British Airways (BA) has extended its suspension of flights to China until after Easter, the airline announced, after increased fears over the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
BA, which had previously said it would cancel all flights to and from Beijing and Shanghai until 1 April, has now said it is extending the ban for over two more weeks until 17 April.
The decision is the third time that the airline has decided to extend the suspension as the outbreak of the disease continues to worsen.
Yesterday BA’s owner IAG saw its market cap fall 9.2 per cent as airline stocks dragged the FTSE 100 to its worst day in three years.
Spooked customers and rattled airlines saw London’s premier index fall 3.3 per cent in total, with Easyjet falling 16.7 per cent to lead the descent.
The plunge came after Italy reported a surge in the number of recorded cases, with 152 confirmed cases and four deaths.
Tour operator Tui and budget airline Wizz Air fell 9.8 per cent and 11.3 per cent respectively as it became clear that the outbreak, which has now infected nearly 80,000, would hit all aspects of the business.
The fall comes after global aviation body the International Air Transport Association (IATA) last week said that the outbreak will cost the world’s airlines a combined $29.3bn in revenue, a reduction of five per cent on December’s estimates.
The vast majority of the cost – $27.8bn – will be borne by carriers based in the Asia-Pacific, with Chinese domestic airlines losing $12.8bn alone.
BA’s restrictions are far from the most severe, with airlines such as Iberia and Delta suspending flights until the end of April.