Norwegian to cancel 3,000 flights worldwide due to coronavirus

Norwegian has announced plans to cancel 3,000 flights between mid-March and mid-June due to the fast-spreading coronavirus.

The airline said it will cancel 15% of scheduled flights over this period as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

The company has also put several other measures in place, including temporary layoffs of a significant share of its workforce.

In the past week, Norwegian said it has experienced reduced demand on future bookings.

Affected customers will receive information about the cancellations changes as soon as they take place.

"This is a critical time for the aviation industry, including us at Norwegian," chief executive, Jacob Schram said.

"We encourage the authorities to immediately implement measures to imminently reduce the financial burden on the airlines in order to protect crucial infrastructure and jobs.

"Unfortunately, cancellations will affect a significant share of our colleagues at Norwegian. We have initiated formal consultations with our unions regarding temporary layoffs for flying crew members as well as employees on the ground and in the offices. We will continue to engage in constructive dialogue with unions and employees to work through this difficult situation together," a statement added.

On Tuesday, British Airways cancelled all flights to and from Italy after the country put itself in lock down in a desperate bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Wizz Air and Norwegian were among the airlines who had already halted flights to and from Italy, where the lockdown has affected some 60million people.

EasyJet was still operating flights to destinations such as Milan, Venice and Bologna, although there were some cancellations, and Ryanair was telling customers whose flights are running that "the no cancellation and no refund policy remains".

A spokeswoman for BA, which operates 60 flights between the UK and Italy every day, said: "In light of the Italian Government's announcement and the UK Government's official travel advice, we have contacted all customers who are due to travel today.

"We have updated our policy to give customers more options and flexibility.

"Any travellers due to fly to or from Italy between now and April 4 can rebook to a later date up until the end of May, move their destination to Geneva or Zurich or receive a full refund.

"We recommend that any travellers continue to check their booking on for the latest information and ensure their contact details are up-to-date in the Manage My Booking section of the website."

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An easyJet spokesman said: "Following the latest decree issued 9 March by the Italian authorities implementing further restrictions for the whole of Italy, easyJet is currently reviewing its scheduled programme between 10 March and 3 April 2020.

“The majority of flights to and from Milan Malpensa, Milan Linate, Venice and Verona have been cancelled for the coming days and affected customers are being advised of their options by email and SMS which include rebooking and refunding. 

Anyone who has booked flights or accommodation directly should contact their airline and accommodation provider to see what flexibility they are offering.

They should also check their travel insurance as it may cover non-refundable cancellation costs for trips to areas where the FCO is advising against all but essential travel.

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: "The decision by the FCO to swiftly issue an advisory against all but essential travel to Italy in response to the latest measures provides much needed clarity for travellers.

“It means that those with travel insurance will now be able to cancel their trip and claim their money back.

“Airlines flying to Italy must do the right thing and allow passengers, who will understandably not want to travel, to cancel for a refund, or rebook at a later date or on a different flight.”

Approximately three million British nationals visit Italy every year.

We've got a full guide on your coronavirus travel rights – including refunds – here.

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