British Airways and Ryanair cancel hundreds of flights over coronavirus outbreak

Ryanair and British Airways have cancelled flights.
Ryanair and British Airways have cancelled flights.

Airline operators British Airways and Ryanair have cancelled hundreds of flights due to the global coronavirus outbreak.

The firms have axed a number of flights between the UK and parts of Europe and the US due to ongoing fears over the virus.

The BA cancellations include journeys between Heathrow and Italy, France, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Ireland and Switzerland - plus New York's JFK.

The airline has also cancelled flights between Gatwick and Italy, France and Albania - and London City flights to and from Italy and Germany - after another spike in COVID-19 cases in the UK.

BA said the changes to its timetable as a result of the coronavirus outbreak would see "a number of flights merged between 16 March and 28 March".

A spokesman for the airline said: "We will be contacting customers on cancelled flights so we can discuss their travel options, including re-booking on to other carriers where possible, full refunds or booking with BA for a later date of travel.

Meanwhile, Ryanair is reducing frequencies on some routes by up to 25%, particularly affecting flights to and from Italy.

The Dublin-based carrier said it would operate a reduced schedule between 17 March and 8 April because of a "significant drop in bookings" over the period caused by concern over COVID-19.

Other measures being introduced by Ryanair include "rolling schedule cuts" allocating leave or paid leave to pilots and cabin crew, working with suppliers to cut costs, and freezing recruitment, promotion and pay.

BA said it is cancelling 12 round-trips from Heathrow to JFK from 17 March to 28 March.

It is also scrapping 171 short-haul roundtrip flights from Heathrow to countries including Italy, France, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland over the same dates.

More than 89,000 confirmed and suspected cases of COVID-19 have been recorded globally and there have been more than 3,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking the outbreak.

There could be a "very significant expansion" of the number of cases of coronavirus in the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned.

It comes as the number of cases in the UK rose to 39 on Monday.