RYANAIR is cancelling up to 25 per cent of its Italian short haul flights between March 17 and April 8.
The airline made the decision to reduce the number because of the spread of coronavirus, which has affected northern Italy particularly badly.
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According to the company, they have received a significant drop in bookings over that late March/early April period, in response to the Covid-19 Virus.
They also revealed that there had been an increasing number of passenger no-shows on flights, particularly from and within Italy.
The CEO Michael O’Leary said: “Our focus at this time is on minimising any risk to our people and our passengers.
“While we are heavily booked over the next two weeks, there has been a notable drop in forward bookings towards the end of March into early April.
“It makes sense to selectively prune our schedule to and from those airports where travel has been most affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.
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“This is a time for calm. We will make sensible cuts to our schedules over the comings weeks to reflect weaker bookings, and changing travel patterns.
“All affected customers will be advised of any schedule changes at least 14 days in advance.
“We will continue to comply fully with guidelines from National Governments, the WHO and EASA as they are updated on a regular basis.”
Any passengers affected by the cancellations will be contacted by email today and the airline is also allocating annual leave and/or unpaid leave to pilots and cabin crew.
The airline’s decision to cancel flights follows British Airways, easyJet and Wizz Air.
British Airways has cancelled hundreds of flights between the UK and Europe, including, Italy, France, Germany and Ireland, as well as to and from New York.
The airline explained that it was due to a “reduced demand due to the continuing coronavirus issue” with flights affected between March 16 and March 28.
On Friday, easyJet also announced that it was cancelling some flights in and out of Italy due to a softening of demand thanks to the virus.
Affected passengers will be contacted and put on alternative flights, or issued full refunds.
The UK government has advised against “all but essential travel” to 10 towns in the north of Italy, primarily in the Lombardy region.
More than 1,600 people are now infected in the country and 34 people have been killed.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told BBC Breakfast that tourists who have travelled to the regions mentioned in the FCO advice already should “self-isolate whether or not they have symptoms”.
Images of Milan show the city almost deserted with tourists cancelling hotels and flights to Italy amid fears of the virus.
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