Sunday 15 March 2020 5:06 pm

Coronavirus: Scandinavian Airlines puts flights 'on hold' due to 'non-existent' demand

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) today announced that it has put most of its operations “on hold” due to the “non-existent” demand for air travel as a result of coronavirus.

The measures are the most extreme yet taken by an airline and comes amid the grounding of thousands of planes worldwide as countries step up their measures to deal with the outbreak.

In a statement SAS said it would suspend operations starting from tomorrow and would not recommence services “until necessary prerequisites for commercial air traffic returns”.

The airline added: “To support our customers, we will in the next few days do our utmost to uphold a certain level of operation to enable travellers to return from their destinations”.

The firm will temporarily lay off around 90 per cent of its staff and reduce services, with only domestic operations and a few European flights continuing.

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Passengers who will be affected by the measures will be contacted.

The sector has been decimated by the outbreak, with widespread cancellations of services to all parts of the world.

A travel ban on people from the 26 Schengen-zone countries entering the US, which president Donald Trump implemented last week, sent airline stocks plummeting and led to another round of cancelled flights.

Over the weekend Trump extended the ban to cover the UK and Ireland, which will compound the woes of an industry which is becoming increasingly anxious about the potential scale of the devastation the outbreak could cause.

Last week international body IATA warned that the $113bn revenue loss it had previously predicted that the industry would suffer this year would now likely be higher due to the US’ measures.