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Cathay Pacific scraps almost all flights as virus stops travel

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Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd will slash passenger capacity by 96 per cent in April and May as the coronavirus shuts down travel across the world.

[NEW DELHI] Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd will slash passenger capacity by 96 per cent in April and May as the coronavirus shuts down travel across the world.

Cathay Pacific will operate three flights per week to 12 destinations: London, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Tokyo, Taipei, New Delhi, Bangkok, Jakarta, Manila, Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore and Sydney. Cathay Dragon will operate three flights a week to Beijing, Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur.

"We need to take difficult but decisive measures as the scale of the challenge facing the global aviation industry is unprecedented," chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam said in a statement. "We have no choice but to significantly reduce our passenger capacity as travel restrictions are making it increasingly difficult for our customers to travel and demand has dropped drastically."

The virus has floored Cathay, which was already reeling from the impact pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong had on visitor numbers for much of last year. The airline has already asked staff to take unpaid leave and warned that it faces substantial losses in the first half of this year, with a HK$2 billion (S$373.3 million) loss in February alone.

Cathay's unit Hong Kong Express said earlier on Friday that it is temporarily shutting down operations to save cash.

BLOOMBERG