American, European airlines reduce transatlantic flights following US directive

Photo: © Phillip Rohmberger / IFN

Airlines from Europe and the United States are temporarily cancelling many transatlantic flights following a US directive restricting entry for travelers from Europe due to the ongoing Coronavirus crisis.

A number of major airlines have announced significant cuts to their Europe-US route networks.

The directive, announced on Wednesday evening by US President Trump, will deny entry to all non-US nationals and non-residents who have traveled to Europe’s ‘Schengen’ zone within the past 14 days. Included in this ban are 23 nations from the European Union, as well as Switzerland, Norway and Iceland. Not included are the United Kingdom and Ireland. The directive will go into effect on Friday at midnight and last for 30 days.

On Thursday evening, the Lufthansa Group, Europe’s largest airline group, announced severe changes to its US network. Effective Friday, Lufthansa will cancel all flights to the United States, except for Frankfurt to Newark and Chicago. All flights from Munich to the US have been suspended. Canada remains unaffected until further notice. Subsidiaries Swiss, Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines are also scaling back US operations. Swiss will only keep flights to Newark and Chicago, Austrian Airlines to Chicago only, while Brussels Airlines will only serve Washington DC. German low-cost carrier Eurowings is suspending all flights to the United States.

Air France, a partner of Delta Air Lines, is likely to cancel its flights to Boston, Miami and Houston. Meanwhile, Delta initially suspended all its Europe connections from the airports Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Orlando, Portland, Raleigh/Durham and Salt Lake City, as these are not entry points approved by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

Competitor American Airlines is forced to suspend all Europe routes from Charlotte, Philadelphia and Raleigh/Durham for the same reason. Many other EU services will also be suspended from March 19 until at least May 7. Most London Heathrow flights continue to operate, but at lower frequencies. The start of several seasonal routes is being postponed to early May or later.

Furthermore, American Airlines is retiring the Boeing 767 and Boeing 757 aircraft types one year earlier than originally planned.

On Friday, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said that the airline is suspending all Europe flights for 30 days, except for British capital London.

Struggling low-cost carrier Norwegian Air stated on Thursday that it will cancel 40 percent of its long-haul flights, including services to the United States from its hubs in Oslo, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Paris, Madrid and Barcelona, starting on Friday. Furthermore, Rome-US flights remain cancelled until the end of May. Its transatlantic flights to and from London Gatwick Airport will continue to operate normally.

Helsinki-based Finnair will temporarily suspend all US flight from March 19th.

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