Coronavirus: Germany's Lufthansa to cancel up to 25 per cent of flights

A 2018 photo shows a Lufthansa plane at Frankfurt am Main airport in western Germany.
A 2018 photo shows a Lufthansa plane at Frankfurt am Main airport in western Germany.PHOTO: AFP

BERLIN (AFP) - German airline Lufthansa on Friday (Feb 28) announced that it expects to reduce its flights by up to 25 per cent in the coming weeks due to the increasing spread of the new coronavirus.

Due to the "accelerated spread of the coronavirus" the company said it would have to cut the numbers of its short- and medium-haul flights by up to a quarter and ground 23 of its long-haul planes.

Lufthansa, like other carriers has been hit by the virus which is deterring travellers and hitting the industry's bottom line.

On Wednesday Lufthansa said it would freeze new hires and use unpaid leave and additional short-time work to cut costs to help cushion the economic impact of the novel coronavirus.

Last month, German airline giant Lufthansa said it would prolong its suspension of flights to the Chinese mainland until March 28 over the novel coronavirus Covid-19.

Lufthansa's share price plummeted by close to 21 per cent on the Frankfurt stock exchange this week as investors panicked over the effects of the virus.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation has said that the virus outbreak could mean a US$4-5 billion (S$5-7 billion) drop in worldwide airline revenue.

Worldwide the virus has hit over 83,000 people in 56 countries and territories.

Over 2,800 people have died.