EasyJet cancels flights and sends workers home unpaid as coronavirus takes toll

Budget airline easyJet has warned it has cancelled flights and introduced emergency cost cuts to help mitigate the financial impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

It said the spread of the illness has caused a drop in demand for flights in and out of Italy and across Europe.

The announcement comes just 48 hours after German carrier Lufthansa revealed it is offering all workers unpaid leave in a bid to curb coronavirus losses.

The airline – whose shares have fallen 15% in the past week – has grounded 13 aircraft and cancelled all flights to and from Chinese mainland until March.

In a statement on Friday, easyJet said: "We will be making decisions to cancel some flights, particularly those into and out of Italy, while continuing to monitor the situation and adapting our flying programme to support demand."

The carrier has introduced a pay freeze for workers, with non-mandatory training suspended and unpaid leave offered to staff.

"While it is too early to determine what the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak will be on current year outlook and guidance for both the airline and holidays business, we continue to monitor the situation carefully and will update the market in due course," easyJet said.

  • Coronavirus travel and refund rights – including if you have to cancel your flight

  • Lufthansa places workers on unpaid leave after coronavirus slashes its profits

"EasyJet is working closely with authorities and are following the guidelines provided by the World Health Organisation and EASA to ensure the health and wellbeing of our people and customers," the company added.

EasyJet said it would "reorganise its summer 2020 flights to maximise revenue for when the market recovers."

If you have a flight booked with the airline, you can check for updates and revised schedules on the easyJet website, here. If your flight is cancelled, the company will have to contact you as soon as possible with updates and alternative travel arrangements.

We've got a full guide on your coronavirus travel rights – including refunds – here.

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