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Wizz Air to cut 10% of flights as coronavirus hits demand

The coronavirus outbreak has dragged down the travel sector in Europe

Wizz Air Holdings -

Wizz Air Holdings PLC (LON:WIZZ) is to cut 10% of network capacity in the quarter to June.

Following the coronavirus outbreak, the airline has been cancelling flights between 11 March and 2 April, mostly to Italy, as demand is plummeting.

READ: Coronavirus disruption pushes HSBC to trim targets for easyJet, Ryanair, IAG and Wizz Air

To save money, the FTSE 250-listed firm has made “significant” reductions in spending as well as pausing new hires and non-essential travel.

Management added it is too early to define the impact on the financial year starting on 1 April.

Ryanair and IAG bosses warn of worse to come

Wizz’s move follows a similar decision announced on Monday by Ryanair Holdings plc (LON:RYA) that it is planning to cancel up to a quarter of its flights to Italy for three weeks in response to a coronavirus outbreak in the north of the country.

The airline said the cancellations were in response to a “significant drop in bookings” and large numbers of passenger no-shows on Italian flights, an occurrence which was blamed on media “hysteria” by boss Michael O'Leary.

READ: Ryanair CEO slams “hysteria” and “irrational panic” over coronavirus

However, speaking at an industry conference in Brussels on Wednesday, O’Leary said he was expecting a “very deflated” booking environment over the next two to three weeks.

The assessment was echoed by Willie Walsh, the outgoing chief executive of British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (LON:IAG), who said that there had been “a very significant fall-off in demand”, according to reports from City AM.

BA has already announced plans to cut over 200 flights between 16-28 March in response to tumbling demand.

Despite the somewhat bleak outlook, shares in Wizz Air were 5.1% higher at 3,555p in late-morning trading on Wednesday while Ryanair was up 0.6% at €11.9 and IAG fell 1.5% to 457.6p.

--Adds airline boss comments and updates share prices--

Quick facts: Wizz Air Holdings

Price: 3280 GBX

AIM:WIZZ
Market: AIM
Market Cap: £3.37 billion
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