MIAMI – LATAM Airlines Group (LA) and its subsidiaries announced today an approximate 30% reduction in international flights due to lower demand and government travel restrictions in what is yet another airline’s attempt to grapple with the fallout of COVID-19.

The measure will apply principally to flights from South America to Europe and the US between April 1 and May 31. 2020.

LATAM’s action has become a prevailing strategy for a slew of airlines worldwide, as COVID-19 (coronavirus) has officially been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).

LATAM customers can reschedule flights without penalty

To provide greater peace of mind for travelers, LATAM will continue to offer flexibility to reschedule flights without penalty, offering the possibility of changing the date and destination without a fine for international flights.

Customers who make new reservations between March 6 and 22 will have exchange flexibility for international flights until December 31, 2020.

“We understand the concern that our clients may have about taking an international trip at this time. That is why we want to provide them with the opportunity to book international flights, knowing that they can change them if they wish,” said Yanina Manassa, Director of Customer Service, LATAM Airlines Group.

As stated on the airline’s website. for new purchases made between today and March 22, 2020, LATAM Airlines will enable its customers, with international flights until December 31, 2020, to schedule their trips with the option of making a date change and/or destination later.

A change per ticket is allowed, without a fine, up to 14 days before the departure of the outbound flight, subject to fare differences.

Capacity reductions across the board

United Airlines (UA) was the first US carrier to announce on March 5 that it would cut domestic flights by 10% and international routes by 20% in April due to the COVID-19.

airBaltic (BT) immediately suspended all flights to/from Milan and Verona on March 8 until the end of April, after the carrier was notified of a passenger who was diagnosed with the Covid-19 coronavirus on flight BT630 from Milan the day before.

Lufthansa (LH) also canceled flights for the months of March and June, and now until April 23, 2020, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, with 7,100 domestic and Italy-bound flights canceled, amounting to 25% of its capacity, and a total of 23,000 flights canceled for all passenger airlines in the Group.

Ryanair (FR) followed suit, swiftly cutting its offer to and from Italy.

Norweigan (DY) announced on March 10 it plans to cancel around 3000 flights in the mid-March to mid-June period. The decrease represents an approximate 15% reduction in overall capacity across DY’s network.

Qantas (QF) on its part announced on the same day that it was reducing its international scheduled flights by 23% until mid-September 2020. The reductions are focussed on Asia, down 31% compared with the same period last year; on the U.S., down 19%; on the U.K., down 17%; and on Trans-Tasman, down 10%.

However, according to the airline, rather than axing routes altogether, QF will use smaller aircraft and reduce the frequency of flights to maintain overall connectivity.

Korean Air (KE) then announced it was cutting 44 routes from its schedule this week, bringing its total capacity down 76% since the start of February, this according to Alas, KE has grounded its entire fleet of Airbus A380s due to low passenger demand as the COVID-19 crisis continues.

Air France (AF) also announced on March 10 that it would cancel 3,600 flights to Europe in March following the gravity of coronavirus spread in the region.

The reduction of flights to the continent represents 13% of the long-haul capacity of the carrier and a 50% cut in routes to and from Italy, according to the owner group, Air France-KLM.

In addition, the group stated that its sister airline, KLM (KL), would reduce long-haul routes in a similar percentage due to the low demand registered in February. For that month, AF’s passenger count went down 6 million from all flights canceled.

Cathay Pacific (CX) announced on March 11 a reduction of capacity to diminish the financial impact of the spread of the coronavirus, registering a drop from 90,000 passengers to 16,000 for Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon in the current period. 

As a result of the COVIF-19 fallout, CX lowered its passenger capacity by 82% just in the month of February.

Article written by Helwing Villamizar