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Wizz Air latest airline to cut flights due to coronavirus

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
A Wizz Air plane in Budapest, Hungary. December 4, 2019. (Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Low cost airline Wizz Air (WIZZ.L) has become the latest carrier to warn on the impact of coronavirus on its business and cut back on flights.

Hungarian-based Wizz Air said on Wednesday demand for flights in Europe had been hit by the COVID-19 outbreak. As a result, it has “made adjustments” to its schedule, including cutting back on flights to Italy.

Wizz Air follows British Airways (IAG.L), easyJet (EZJ.L), and Ryanair (RYA.L) in reducing service in recent weeks. The rapid spread of coronavirus around the world has led to slumping demand for flights.

Wizz Air said it could cut flight capacity by as much as 10% in the first quarter if coronavirus continues to put people off flying.

Read more: Ryanair and BA cancel hundreds of flights due to coronavirus outbreak

The company has also established a “multi-disciplinary task force to maintain a highly efficient operation and drive further savings to address the financial implications of COVID-19”. The company has paused recruitment and non-essential travel, and is cutting spending across the business.

Wizz Air said it was too difficult to predict the eventual financial impact of the epidemic on its business, given the fast-evolving nature of the coronavirus outbreak.

“Our ever-disciplined attitude to cost enables Wizz Air to partly offset some of the headwinds due to the COVID-19 outbreak, which have driven a temporary decline in demand and an increase in the cost of disruption as we put the well-being of passengers and crew first,” said Wizz Air chief executive József Váradi.

“Wizz Air's ultra-low cost business model and our strong balance sheet and liquidity provide a solid foundation and a significant competitive advantage in the current challenging environment for airlines, making us a structural winner in the aviation sector in the long term.”

Shares in Wizz Air slipped 0.4%.