Finnair's latest response to the outbreak shows how quickly things can change and how difficult it is for a company to quantify the impact of a fast-changing external event. Only a month ago, the CEO was saying that coronavirus would have a "relatively limited" impact on the airline.
Finnair is cancelling flights to mainland China, South Korea and Milan because of the coronavirus outbreak and will open talks with unions next week about temporary staff layoffs, the airline said on Wednesday.
Airlines around the globe have cancelled flights to regions worst hit by coronavirus, suspended other routes as bookings dry up and warned that profits will suffer this year because of the health crisis.
Finnair is cancelling all flights to mainland China until April 30, to Milan in northern Italy from March 9 to April 7, and to Seoul in South Korea from March 9 until April 16. It is also postponing its new Korean route to Busan by three months to July 1 and is reducing services to Hong Kong and Osaka in Japan.
The carrier warned on Feb. 28 of a significant fall in profit this year due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Negotiations with labour unions in Finland will start on March 12 and last for two weeks. Employees could face layoffs lasting between 14 and 30 days, the airline said.
“Similar personnel measures will also be taken in countries outside Finland,” it said. “As announced on Feb. 28, Finnair is also adjusting its other costs globally, such as sales and marketing activities and other external spend.”
Shares in Finnair were down 0.4% at 4.67 euros by 1022 GMT.
(Reporting by Gwladys Fouche in Oslo and Tarmo Virki in Tallinn; Editing by Terje Solsvik and David Clarke)
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Photo credit: A Finnair jet. The airline considering temporary layoffs. Phil Noble / Reuters