Flight schedules have been slashed by the UK’s busiest airlines due to coronavirus.
EasyJet, Ryanair and British Airways have all reduced flights amid travel restrictions and a huge drop in demand.
“Further significant cancellations” were announced by easyJet, which warned the “majority” of its planes could be grounded in the future.
Ryanair announced that most of its aircraft will stop flying in the next seven to ten days and “a full grounding of the fleet cannot be ruled out”.
British Airways’ parent company IAG revealed that its capacity for April and May would be cut by “at least 75%” compared with the same period in 2019.
EasyJet said in a statement there is “no guarantee” that European airlines “will survive what could be a long-term travel freeze and the risks of a slow recovery”.
The airline went on to say it is taking “every action to remove cost and non-critical expenditure from the business at every level”, adding that grounding aircraft “will remove significant levels of variable costs”.
EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said: “European aviation faces a precarious future and it is clear that co-ordinated government backing will be required to ensure the industry survives and is able to continue to operate when the crisis is over.”
IAG announced that chief executive Willie Walsh – who was due to step down from the role next week – has agreed to delay his retirement “for a short period” to provide stability.
The group said it is taking actions to reduce operating expenses and improve cash flow, including “temporarily suspending employment contracts and reducing working hours”, grounding aircraft, reducing capital spending and cutting “non-essential” IT spend.
Mr Walsh said: “We have seen a substantial decline in bookings across our airlines and global network over the past few weeks and we expect demand to remain weak until well into the summer.
“We are therefore making significant reductions to our flying schedules. We will continue to monitor demand levels and we have the flexibility to make further cuts if necessary.
“We are also taking actions to reduce operating expenses and improve cash flow at each of our airlines. IAG is resilient with a strong balance sheet and substantial cash liquidity.”