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Travel

Why are airlines still flying in and out of US coronavirus hot spots and will they continue?




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Travel

Watch Virgin Australia’s musical farewell to last international service

In a musical showstopper, Virgin Australia’s ground staff have bid farewell to the final scheduled international service as the airline halts operations today.

Through the words of pop power balladeers Journey, ground crew at Brisbane International Airport sang “Don’t stop believin'” as flight VA153 to Auckland set off for the last time.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic Virgin Australia has grounded all international flights as of today until at least June 14.

To mark the final flight, for now, Virgin Australia crew filmed themselves performing a choreographed dance of waves and aeroplane wings on the tarmac and quiet departure halls of the Australian airport.

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Transport

Airlines Eliminate Middle Seats, Reduce Food and Beverage Service

Major U.S. air carriers are making sweeping policy changes to their services and policies in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, implementing measures to minimize flight attendant-to-customer interaction, maximize the distance between passengers and discourage customers congregating by shutting down airport lounge areas.

According to CNN Business, the implementation of several of these strategies is made easier because many of those flights that are still in operation are flying with only 20- to 30-percent of passenger seating filled.

American Airlines, Delta and Southwest have all issued announcements that they’re scaling back food-and-beverage service in an effort to cut costs and reduce the number of items being handled by cabin crew.

American Airlines

American Airlines’ temporary changes come with an assurance that full service will resume once the coronavirus situation has stabilized, and that the company expects to soon make snacks and bottled water available at the gate.

From March 27 through April 30, on flights under 2,200 miles (typically about 4.5 hours):

—No meals will be served in First Class

—No snacks or food will be available for purchase

—No alcohol will be served in the Main Cabin, although it will be available in First Class

—Beverage choices (upon request) will be limited to water, canned beverages or juice

On Flights over 2,200 miles, including transcontinental and Hawaii flights:

—Alcohol will be available in First Class, but not in the Main Cabin (except on long-haul international flights);

—Standard beverage service will continue as usual

—Meals in all cabins will be served on a single tray

—No food or snacks will be available for purchase

In accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) social-distancing guidelines, American is also relaxing its seating policies, blocking off 50 percent of middle seats, instructing gate agents to reassign seats as needed to maximize space between passengers, in some instances, allowing fliers to switch seats within their ticketed cabin.

Effective March 26, all of American’s Admiral’s Club lounge services—including food and beverage offerings, restrooms and shower facilities—will be temporarily suspended and most locations closed entirely. Checked pet service is also being suspended, though carry-on pets and service/support animals are still permitted.

Your safety is important. We’ve made changes to our seat assignments and service offerings to allow for social distancing and less interaction while in flight. pic.twitter.com/NV5iikZDsI

Delta Air Lines

Effective immediately, on all U.S. domestic and short-haul international flights, Delta’s in-flight service has been streamlined to “decrease physical touch points on board”.

—Snack selections have been reduced to two

—Across all cabins, bottled water is the only beverage available

—Plastic cups and ice have been removed

—First Class and Delta One meal service is being replaced with individually pre-packaged Flight Fuel boxes

Across all U.S. domestic and international flights, Delta has already removed glassware and hotel-towel service from First Class and Delta One. Delta’s statement on the subject said that it’s also currently evaluating adjustments to be made to its long-haul international flying protocols. Separately, Delta Sky Club lounges have cut back food-and-beverage options, discontinued shower service and completely closed in many locations.

Southwest Airlines

While Southwest doesn’t operate lounges or first-class cabins, the airline is also making some changes to protect the health of its crew and customers, informed by health officials’ recommendations for limiting close public interactions. It’s temporarily suspending all in-flight snack and beverage services, with the exception of canned water, available upon request.

United Airlines

United hasn’t announced any alterations to its onboard service, as yet. The airline commented to CNN Business that it has no immediate plans to make the types of changes instituted by its competitors, but has adjusted protocols so that its flight attendants wear gloves, beverage cups are no longer being refilled and snacks are being served from a tray, rather than allowing guests to pick their own.

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Cruises

ASTA calling on airlines to shore up agent protections coronavirus

The U.S. airlines are currently seeking $58 billion in
federal relief due to the Covid-19 coronavirus crisis, and ASTA wants airlines to better clarify ticket refund and exchange
procedures as a part of any deal.

The Society has released a list of things it wants to airlines
to do for travel agent bookings:

• Ensuring travelers who have booked through an agency are
advised to contact their advisor to process refunds and exchanges rather than
directly on the carrier’s website.

• Ensuring all tickets are fully refundable and not merely
credited for future travel.

• Permitting travel advisors to process all refunds via ARC.

• Protecting original agency commissions/incentives on air
bookings should the tickets be exchanged or rebooked. 

• Protecting advisor commissions on refunded tickets.

• Confirming and/or clarifying that penalty charges or
change fees will not apply for canceled or rebooked flights during the Covid-19
crisis.

• Ensuring travelers the opportunity to use any credit
issued for unused tickets for a minimum of two years from the original
departure date.

• For those tickets booked on or after March 1, extending
the window for rebooking flights to one year from date of travel with no change
fees.

• Ensuring ancillary fees are fully refunded to the traveler
for any travel booked in 2020 and subsequently canceled.

In a statement, ASTA president and CEO Zane Kerby said he
commended suppliers that have already relaxed rebooking and cancellation
requirements, but that more relief is necessary. 

Kerby also specifically thanked suppliers who are paying
commissions and incentives at the time of booking, not at the time of travel.
He asked airlines to do the same.

“Recognizing the value travel advisors play in the booking
process and the trusted place in advisors by the traveling public will help
ensure the long-term success of the travel industry as it rebounds in a
post-Covid-19 world,” he said.

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Transport

US airlines readjust their capacity cuts

U.S. airlines have made new, far-reaching capacity cuts due
to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Delta now plans to cut capacity 70% systemwide until demand
starts to recover. United will implement a 60% systemwide capacity cut. JetBlue
will make a capacity reduction for April and May of 40%. And Allegiant expects to
do a 35% reduction. 

Delta’s latest update, made in a regulatory filing
Wednesday, accelerates a pullback that the carrier had set at 40% late last
week. Delta now expects March revenue to dip nearly $2 billion from a year
earlier, with worse results to come in April. 

The carrier said its largest cuts will come in international
flying, with a pullback of more than 80% over the next two or three months. New
cuts include the suspension of flying to Aruba, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru and
Panama due to travel restrictions imposed by those governments. 

More than 600 Delta aircraft will be grounded, and the
carrier will accelerate retirements of old aircraft, including McDonnell Douglas
MD-88s and MD-90s as well as Boeing 767s. 

United, meanwhile, upped its planned capacity cut from 50%
in April to 60% and provided more details than other carriers on where the cuts
will be made. 

The carrier will cut international capacity by 85% and
capacity within the U.S. and Canada by 42%. 

On the domestic front, United will implement its cuts while stopping
service to just one destination: ski town Mammoth Lakes, Ca., where the ski
area is already shuttered. 

The carrier is suspending 66 hub-and-spoke routes. The most
cuts will come in San Francisco, where United is suspending 19 routes. At its
Denver hub, United announced just one route suspension, to Eureka, Calif.  

United has generally sought to preserve routes that connect
secondary cities to nearby hubs. For example, the airline will suspend flying
between Chicago and Eugene, Ore., but continue flying to Eugene from Denver,
Los Angeles and San Francisco. 

On the international front, United now plans to operate just
45 daily flights beyond the U.S. and Canada in April.

JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes and president Joanne Geraghty
offered grave financial details while announcing their 40% cut in flying in a
memo to employees Wednesday. The cuts are up from the 5% capacity reduction
JetBlue revealed last week. 

Hayes and Geraghty said that in the last several days,
JetBlue had taken in an average of less than $4 million per day from bookings
and ancillary fees, down from an average of $22 million per day last March. The
cancellation rate has been more than 10 times the norm. 

“If you do the math, $4 million per day does not come
anywhere close to covering our daily expenses. It is hard to predict how long
these conditions will last and how much more challenging the environment may
become,” the memo says. 

To fortify its cash on hand, JetBlue has borrowed $1 billion
from a credit line it recently secured. 

Allegiant had already cut capacity by approximately 15%
during April and May, but additional reductions will raise the figure to
between 30% and 35%. 

Allegiant also said that it will immediately suspend
construction of what will be its first hotel, the Sunseeker Resort Charlotte
Harbor in Port Charlotte on Florida’s southwest coast. Other measures —
including a moratorium on nonessential capital expenditures, a hiring freeze
and the cessation of discretionary expenditures and stock buybacks — will
defer as much as $300 million in cash outlay this year. 

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Transport

American Airlines to Cut 75 Percent of International Capacity

American Airlines said late Saturday night it will cut 75 percent of its international capacity through May 6 to combat the loss of revenue from decreased customer demand due to the coronavirus.

“American Airlines Group Inc. will implement a phased suspension of additional long-haul international flights from the U.S. starting on March 16,” the carrier said in a statement. “This suspension will last through May 6. This change is in response to decreased demand and changes to U.S. government travel restrictions due to coronavirus (COVID-19).”

While other carriers have trimmed flights and grounded planes, this is the largest and most dramatic cutback of any of the U.S. airlines so far.

American said it will reduce international capacity by 75 percent year-over-year from Monday, March 16 to Wednesday, May 6. It will continue to operate one flight daily from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to London Heathrow (LHR), one flight daily from Miami (MIA) to LHR and three flights per week from DFW to Tokyo Narita (NRT).

The carrier will continue short-haul international flying, which includes flights to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and certain markets in the northern part of South America, as scheduled.

In addition to the international changes, the airline anticipates its domestic capacity in April will be reduced by 20 percent compared to last year and May’s domestic capacity will be reduced by 30 percent on a year over year basis.

Given the decrease in demand related to COVID-19, American has requested temporary relief from numerous airports over slot usage, also known as a slot waiver, without having to give up its takeoff and landing slots.

Here are the full changes and route suspensions American plans.

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Travel

Coronavirus update: Airlines suspend more flights, broaden waivers



a plane sitting on the tarmac at an airport

Editor’s note: This post is being continuously updated as new information becomes available. It was originally published on Feb. 29, 2020.

Airlines are being hit hard as the novel coronavirus disease known as COVID-19 spreads across the globe.

Carriers flying to Asia bore the initial brunt of the fallout, but now that the virus has spread to other continents – including Europe and North America – airlines have canceled flights and rolled out change-fee waivers as they’ve tried to keep up with the quickly evolving situation.

American and Delta became the latest U.S. carriers to modify their schedules because of the virus, announcing during the weekend that service to Milan would be curtailed. American is halting all of its service to Milan through April 25.  Delta will end its service between New York-JFK and Milan starting Monday, but its service between Atlanta and Milan will continue to operate — at least for now. Delta’s Milan service from JFK is currently expected to restart May 1.

Here are the latest waivers and cancellations currently in place at U.S. airlines. This post will be regularly updated with new information. (Last update: March 8, 2020)

Flight waivers in place at US carriers

Alaska Airlines

Alaska is waiving change and cancellation fees on all flights in its network for travel booked between Feb. 27 and March 12. All changes must be made by March 12, and passengers will receive credit for future travel, with one year to use it from the date the credit is issued.

Allegiant Air

Allegiant is allowing customers a one-time change to their travel plans without incurring change or cancellation fees. This waiver applies to both new and existing bookings. Allegiant has not specified an end date for the waiver.

American Airlines

On March 5, American extended its blanket waiver. The new policy does away with change fees for any travel booked between March 5 and March 31. Those who booked between March 1 and March 4 are covered by the previous policy, which waives fees on travel so long as changes are made no later than 14 days prior to travel. In addition, the following waivers remain in effect:

Italy: You may be eligible for a one-time fee-free trip change or cancellation. The waiver covers flights booked by Feb. 27, for travel from Feb. 27 through March 15. Altered travel must be booked by March 15 and completed within one year of the original ticket dates.

China (Beijing and Shanghai): You may be eligible for a one-time fee-free trip change or cancellation. The waiver covers flights booked by Jan. 24, for travel from Jan. 24 through April 24. Altered travel must be booked by April 24 and completed within one year of the original ticket dates. Passengers to or from Beijing and Shanghai can also change their destination or origin to Tokyo.

China (Wuhan): Your trip is eligible for no-fee cancellation if you bought your ticket before Jan. 23 and you’re scheduled to travel between Jan. 23 and March 31.

Hong Kong: You may be eligible for a one-time fee-free trip change or cancellation. The waiver covers flights booked by Jan. 28, for travel from Jan. 28 through April 24. Altered travel must be booked by April 24 and completed within one year of the original ticket dates. Passengers to or from Hong Kong can also change their destination or origin to Tokyo.

South Korea: You may be eligible for a one-time fee-free trip change or cancellation. The waiver covers flights booked by Feb. 24, for travel from Feb. 24 through April 24. Altered travel must be booked by April 24 and completed within one year of the original ticket dates. Passengers to or from Seoul can also change their destination or origin to Tokyo.

More information about American’s location-specific coronavirus waivers is available on its website.

Delta Air Lines

Delta issued a blanket waiver for all tickets, allowing passengers who booked travel between March 1 and March 31 change their itinerary one time for no fee. Any travel between March 1, 2020 and Feb. 25, 2021 is covered by the waiver, so long as it was booked in the specified date range. Rebooked tickets must be issued by Feb. 28, 2021 and travel must begin by that date. The following location-specific waivers also remain in effect:

Italy: You may be eligible for a one-time fee-free trip change or cancellation. The waiver covers travel on flights from Feb. 25 through March 15. Altered travel must be booked by March 15 and must begin by April 3.

China and South Korea: You may be eligible for a one-time fee-free trip change or cancellation. The waiver covers travel on flights from Jan. 24 through April 30. Altered travel must be booked and begin by May 31.

More information about Delta’s waivers is available on its website.

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian has issued a blanket waiver, allowing all travelers who book flights between March 1 and March 31 to change the itineraries one time for no fee.

More information about Hawaiian’s coronavirus waivers for Japan, South Korea and China is available on its website. The airline’s waiver policies for those countries are each slightly different.

JetBlue

JetBlue is waiving change and cancellation fees on new flights booked between Feb. 27 and March 11. Customers who cancel their flights will be issued a credit.

United Airlines

United will waive change fees on all new bookings made between March 3 and March 31. The updated itinerary must take place within 12 months of the originally booked travel dates, and passengers will be responsible to pay any fare differences. Those who decide to cancel their travel will be issued a voucher for the original value of the tickets, valid for 12 months from the original ticket issue date. The following location-specific waivers are also in effect:

Italy: You may be eligible for a one-time fee-free trip change if you are traveling to or from cities in northern Italy. The waiver covers flights booked by Feb. 26, for travel from Feb. 27 through April 30. Altered travel must completed within one year of the original ticket dates.

China (Beijing, Chengdu and Shanghai): You may be eligible for a one-time fee-free trip change or cancellation. The waiver covers flights booked by Feb. 12, for travel from Jan. 24 through April 30. Wholly rescheduled travel must completed within one year of the original ticket dates. Un-flown flights can be refunded.

China (Wuhan): Un-flown segments of your trip are eligible for no-fee cancellation if you bought your ticket by Jan. 21 and you’re scheduled to travel between Jan. 22 and March 29.

Hong Kong: You may be eligible for a one-time fee-free trip change or cancellation. The waiver covers flights booked by Feb. 12, for travel from Jan. 28 through April 30. Wholly rescheduled travel must completed within one year of the original ticket dates. Un-flown flights can be refunded.

South Korea: You may be eligible for a one-time fee-free trip change or cancellation. The waiver covers flights booked by Feb. 23, for travel from Feb. 24 through June 30. Wholly rescheduled travel must be completed within one year of the original ticket dates. Un-flown flights can be refunded.

More information about United’s coronavirus waivers is available on its website.

Flight suspensions and cancellations made by US carriers because of coronavirus

American Airlines

South Korea: Beginning March 4, flights between DFW and Seoul will be suspended until April 25. AA only serves Seoul from DFW, so the airline is effectively ending flights to that airport until the service resumes.

China: Flights between DFW/LAX and mainland China are suspended through April 24.

Hong Kong: Flights between DFW and Hong Kong (HKG) are suspended through April 23, and through April 24 for those to and from LAX.

Italy: American has suspended its service between New York-JFK and Milan (MXP) from March 1 until April 25.

More information about American’s coronavirus-related flight cancellations is available on the airline’s website.

Delta Air Lines

Japan: Delta is reducing its schedule between a number of U.S. cities and destinations in Japan. Daily flights between Tokyo and Detroit, Los Angeles, Honolulu and Seattle maintain their schedule, but the following reductions are in effect on other routes:

  • Tokyo-Portland goes to 3x weekly
  • Tokyo-Atlanta goes to 5x weekly
  • Tokyo-Minneapolis goes to 5x weekly
  • Nagoya-Detroit goes to 3x weekly
  • Nagoya-Honolulu goes to 3x weekly
  • Osaka-Seattle seasonal summer service is suspended for 2020
  • Osaka-Honolulu goes to 3x weekly

Tokyo-Manila service will also end on March 27 as part of Delta’s planned consolidation at Haneda airport. Delta will begin service between Manila and Seoul on May 1 (previously scheduled for March 29).

Italy: Delta has severely limited its schedule between March 11 and April 30, suspending all routes between the U.S. and Italy during that period except for a five-times weekly service between New York-JFK and Rome. The airline has also delayed its seasonal service between JFK and Venice, which will now begin on May 1 instead of April 1. Similarly, seasonal service between Detroit and Rome was also set to begin April 1 and has been delayed until May 1.

China: Suspended until April 30.

South Korea: Minneapolis/St. Paul flights suspended through April 30; flights between Seoul and Atlanta, Detroit and Seattle are reduced to five times weekly through April 30.

United Airlines

The airline announced on March 4 that it would cut 20% of its international flights and 10% of its domestic flights. The following route changes also remain in effect:

China (Beijing, Chengdu and Shanghai): Suspended through April 30.

Hong Kong: Suspended through April 30.

Japan: Flights between Tokyo-Narita and Los Angeles and Houston are canceled March 8 through April 24. Flights between Chicago and Narita are canceled March 8 through March 27. (Chicago flights will serve Tokyo-Haneda beginning March 28.) Flights between Narita and Newark are reduced to five-times weekly in April. Flights between San Francisco and Kansai are reduced to five-times weekly in April.

Singapore: Flights from San Francisco reduced to once daily March 8-April 24.

South Korea: Flights between San Francisco and Seoul are reduced to three-times weekly March 8 through April 30.

Hawaiian Airlines

South Korea: Flights between Honolulu and Seoul suspended between March 2 and April 30.

Japan: Hawaiian is consolidating its Japan schedule beginning March 28. Service between Kona and Tokyo-Haneda will be suspended from that date until May 1. The airline’s Tokyo service will be moved entirely to a daily service to and from Honolulu, on a slightly adjusted schedule.

JetBlue

The airline announced it would cut capacity on some routes, including many within the U.S. Details of the cuts will be posted when they’re revealed.

Additional reporting by Benji Stawski.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.

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Travel

Airlines running ghost flights to keep airport slots amid sales slump

Airlines are running ‘ghost flights’ to hold on to valuable ‘use them or lose them’ airport slots amid coronavirus crisis sales slump

  • Carriers told to use 80% of their slot allocation or risk having them removed
  • Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic, says rules were relaxed ‘in aftermath of 9/11’
  • Rob Burgess, editor of headforpoints.com, said ghost flights are a ‘dirty secret’

A slump in passenger numbers as a result of coronavirus has led to an increase in airlines running ‘ghost’ flights to hold on to valuable take-off and landing slots at British airports.

The slots are run by the independent slot coordinator ACL on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis, with carriers told to use 80 per cent of their allocation or risk having them removed. The drop in ticket sales has led to some planes being flown empty, it has been reported.

Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered airlines, argues that this rule, in the current circumstances – airlines are facing an £87bn loss in revenue because of coronavirus – doesn’t make sense.

A slump in passenger numbers as a result of coronavirus has led to an increase in airlines running ‘ghost’ flights to hold on to valuable take-off and landing slots

He said in a statement: ‘The “use it or lose it” rule on airport slots – an airline’s right to take-off from a certain airport at a certain time – means that carriers are being forced to fly half-empty planes or risk losing that take-off slot in future, seriously affecting their ability to plan ahead.

‘It makes no sense whatsoever under these unique and challenging circumstances to force airlines to fly empty aircraft, wasting money and fuel and creating carbon emissions. We urgently need a temporary suspension of the rule – as happened during the financial crisis – to allow airlines to respond to demand and use their aircraft efficiently.’

Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic, is in agreement, pointing out that ‘in the aftermath of 9/11 and following the outbreak of Sars, slot rules were quickly relaxed’.

Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK, argues that the use it or lose it rule in the current circumstances – airlines are facing an £87bn loss in revenue because of coronavirus – doesn’t make sense

MAJOR CARRIERS SLASH SERVICES IN RESPONSE TO CORONAVIRUS CRISIS 

The coronavirus outbreak has led to airlines drastically cutting back services. Here’s a breakdown:

BRITISH AIRWAYS

171 short-haul flights cancelled from London Heathrow to countries including Italy, France, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Ireland and Switzerland between March 17 and 28.

26 short-haul flights cancelled from London City to Berlin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich, Venice, Rome, Milan and Florence between March 17 and 28.

58 flights to Shanghai and Beijing cancelled until March 31.

29 flights to Hong Kong cancelled until March 31.

12 flights cancelled from Heathrow to JFK between March 17 and 28.

7 short-haul flights cancelled from Gatwick to Italy, France and Albania between March 16 and 25.

6 flights cancelled from London Heathrow to Singapore every other day starting from March 15 (cancelled flights on March 15, 17, 19, 21, 23 and 25) and flights cancelled from London Heathrow to Seoul every other day from March 13-28.

VIRGIN ATLANTIC

48 Heathrow to Shanghai flights cancelled until April 19 and nine fewer Virgin Atlantic rotations between Heathrow and Hong Kong during March.

EASYJET

500 flights cancelled to Turin, Milan, Verona, Venice, Pisa, Florence, Ancona, Rome, Naples, Bari, Brindisi, Catania and Palermo between March 13 and 31, at least.

RYANAIR

Reducing number of short haul flights to and from Italy, from across Europe, by up to 25 per over three weeks from March 17 to April 9. 

He added: ‘Today, where the demand impact is greater, we only see short-term alleviation on slots used to fly to China and Hong Kong. Given the almost unprecedented impact on global passenger demand, the UK slot coordinator and the European Commission need to urgently relax the rules for the whole Summer. Common sense must prevail.’

A Heathrow spokesperson, meanwhile, called upon the ACL to take ‘an evidence-based approach, ensuring that the slot rules are sensible for the situation and safeguard the global connectivity that will be required to restart economies once we overcome the immediate threat of coronavirus’.

It’s understood that Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has written to the ACL, calling for the slot rule to be relaxed.

Rob Burgess, editor of frequent flyer website headforpoints.com, explained that slots are like gold dust for airlines.

He told MailOnline Travel: ‘Ghost flights are one of the airline industry’s dirty little secrets. They have been going on forever at Heathrow, but usually only in small volumes.

‘Because Heathrow slots are so valuable, they are rarely given up. If one won’t be used for some time, they are sold or leased – British Airways bought a five-year lease on one of the two South African Airways slot pairs last year, for example, when SAA dropped a flight.

‘You also get “slot sitting”, with airlines letting their partners borrow slots short-term rather than lose them. Some of the Flybe services at Heathrow, for example, were using spare Air France, KLM, Delta and Virgin Atlantic slots. Etihad had slots on loan to Air Serbia recently.

‘Running “ghost planes” is very much a last resort, because any revenue is better than no revenue. It is more likely that, with BA, it will ground long haul planes and add additional short-haul flights – with tickets sold – to use the slots. For Virgin Atlantic, if it grounds long-haul routes, it is possible that it may have to lease a short-haul plane and fly it from Heathrow to a domestic airport, empty, and then back again the next day.

‘It isn’t environmentally friendly, of course, but with Oman Air paying $75million for a Heathrow slot pair a few years ago, they are clearly too valuable to lose.’

From March 17 British Airways is cutting 171 short-haul flights, 12 flights to JFK, with 58 flights to Shanghai and Beijing cancelled until March 31

Regarding whether the rules should be relaxed, Mr Burgess argues that it might be better for global connectivity if they weren’t.

He added: ‘Arguably the rules could be relaxed, but is this fair? If BA is not willing to fly daily to, say, Bangkok but Thai Airways would be willing to pick up the route, shouldn’t it be allowed to? There are airlines desperate to get into Heathrow and they would start flights tomorrow given the slots – shouldn’t we let them?’

The coronavirus outbreak has led to several major British airlines slashing services.

From March 17 British Airways is cutting 171 short-haul flights, 12 flights to JFK, with 58 flights to Shanghai and Beijing cancelled until March 31.

The crisis is thought to have been one of many factors that led to the collapse of Flybe. 

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