Facing ‘unprecedented’ crisis, airlines urge governments to help

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Airlines made unprecedented cuts to flights, costs and staffing on Monday, stepping up calls for emergency aid as coronavirus lockdowns and new travel restrictions hit more important routes.

Already battered shares in British Airways parent company International Airlines Group (IAG), easyJet and Air France-KLM plunged again as they scrapped most flights for the coming weeks, joining other large carriers that are all but halting operations in the face of the pandemic.

“It is now clear that the coronavirus is by far the biggest crisis in the history of aviation,” Finnair Chief Executive Topi Manner said as the carrier announced a 90 percent capacity reduction and its second profit warning in three weeks.

The outlook darkened further after Spain declared a state of emergency and the United States extended travel curbs to the United Kingdom, while Australia and New Zealand began requiring all travellers to self-isolate. Germany advised citizens against non-essential trips abroad.