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Covid-19 air travel cull: Nordic flag carrier SAS to ‘temporarily’ lay off 90% of employees as it halts traffic

Covid-19 air travel cull: Nordic flag carrier SAS to ‘temporarily’ lay off 90% of employees as it halts traffic
Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has decided to halt “most of” its flights, stating that the demand for air travel has effectively fallen to zero. The move comes along with “temporary work reductions,” affecting some 10,000 employees.

“As an effect of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, and the measures that authorities have taken, the demand for international air travel is essentially non-existent,” the flag carrier of Denmark, Norway and Sweden said in a statement Sunday.

Starting on Monday, SAS will “halt most of its traffic” and resume its operations only when “conditions to conduct commercial aviation” arise again. The company will still operate return flights for those desiring to get back to Nordic countries.

“We will be at the disposal of the authorities to on their behalf take home stranded citizens or maintain infrastructure important to society, as far as possible,” SAS said.

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The substantial halt in operations will drastically affect the company’s employees. Some 10,000, effectively 90 percent of its workforce, are set to be temporarily laid off – or to be subject to “temporary work reductions,” as the company put it.

The coronavirus outbreak, classified a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) earlier this week, has taken a heavy toll on air carriers. Fall in demand for travel amid the virus scare, as well as travel restrictions imposed by many nations, have already sent airline stocks into a nosedive.

On Friday, the three largest airlines in the US – Delta, American and United – said that they were in talks with the US government over potential state assistance due to the drop of air traffic. Meanwhile, European carriers are taking a heavy blow as well – for instance, British Airways reportedly told its employees it is to lay off workers both in the short term and “perhaps long term,” while Swiss International is taking half its fleet out of service and reducing working hours.

Also on rt.com Coronavirus pandemic could cost millions of jobs in travel industry

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