Airlines see nothing but bad news with outbreak

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Airlines see nothing but bad news with outbreak

Korean airlines are seeing little light at the end of the tunnel as demand for tickets crashes with the coronavirus outbreak.

As it becomes evident that the coronavirus outbreak will continue for months, some local airlines are adjusting flight operations while others are entering emergency management mode.

Korean Air Lines said Wednesday that it has begun reducing the number of flights to Southeast Asian cities because of lowered demand from Korean customers.

The country’s largest airline by sales is also extending suspensions of flights to China by a month, or through April 25. Korean Air Lines is also reportedly in discussions to use smaller planes on routes to Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York City next month, which also reflect the general decline in demand for travel.

One of its flight attendants was diagnosed with the virus Tuesday after working on some international routes.

Asiana Airlines is also halting flights to Asian countries until mid-April. It reduced the number of flights to China from 204 on 26 routes per week to 53 on 14 routes.

The company told all of its 10,500 employees to take turns in taking 10 days of unpaid leave starting last week. Asiana executives and managers voluntarily accepted pay cuts of up to 40 percent until the outbreak calms down.

The outbreak is even worse for budget airlines that were more dependent on routes to cities in China and Southeast Asia.

Air Seoul announced Tuesday that it entered emergency management mode. All executives are accepting salary cuts of up to 30 percent for February and will foreswear their salaries for March. All employees are being ordered to take unpaid leave for more than a month starting next month.

The low-cost carrier affiliate of Asiana Airlines suspended some flights to China late last month and is expanding the suspension of routes to Japanese and Southeast Asian cities. Ticket demand has fallen more than 70 percent due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Jeju Air announced earlier this month that it also entered emergency management mode and was cutting executive salaries by more than 30 percent and demanding unpaid leave from employees. Around 15 percent of revenue for the low-cost carrier came from routes to China last year.

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