Coronavirus: Airlines operating in Spain cancel 4,400 flights in the second half of March | Economy

An Air Europa plane at Tenerife North airport.
An Air Europa plane at Tenerife North airport.Efe

The airlines are living in an extreme situation due to the negative impact that Covid-19 is having on air transport. Airlines flying in Spain have already canceled 4,400 flights in the second half of March, according to data from the Airline Association (ALA). A figure that can be considerably increased by the order given by the Government of Donald Trump this Thursday to suspend all flights between the United States and Europe.

Faced with this situation, the airlines have asked the Government for a crash plan that includes, among other measures, the postponement of the payment of corporation tax, Social Security contributions and airport taxes charged by Aena.

In addition to fiscal measures, the companies have also requested a series of labor measures, such as the rapid approval of temporary employment regulation files (ERTE), derived from the fall in activity and the temporary duration linked to the period in which the maintain the exceptional existing situation, according to the request made by ALA.

And it is that the airlines prepare massive adjustments of staff, for the moment temporary, before the wave of cancellations. Air Europa has met this Thursday with representatives of all the unions present in the committees of its 22 work centers in Spain to notify them of the opening of an ERTE for exceptional causes due to the effects of the coronavirus covid-19. Within a maximum period of seven days, the negotiating table will be established, which will be followed by the consultation period for 15 days. Although the union representatives indicated that they will try to minimize the impact of the measure, it is estimated that it could affect almost the entire workforce, made up of 3,600 workers, both in flight, with cabin crew and pilots; as ground personnel, mechanics and other auxiliary personnel.

Norwegian, on the brink of collapse

Following the ban on travel to the US from most of Europe and the growing situation caused by the coronavirus, Norwegian has decided to cancel 4,000 flights until the end of May, ground 40% of its long-haul fleet, and reduce by 25% its short-haul flights. Norwegian fell more than 20% on the stock market this Thursday and since the beginning of the year it has lost 85% of its capitalization.

The Nordic low-cost company has already announced that it will apply temporary job suspensions of up to 50% of the workforce that amounts to 11,000 employees, although it does not rule out expanding the adjustment, which will affect all its departments.

For its part, Ryanair has summoned the unions to a meeting in Dublin on March 19 to announce the new cut measures, after those adopted at the beginning of the month, to ask their pilots and cabin crew to request leave without pay due. to the decline in activity.

For its part, Iberia has summoned the unions this Friday to inform them of the concrete measures that it is going to put on the table to face the drop in demand. And other airlines such as easyJet, Vueling or Air Nostrum have also warned staff that they are preparing adjustment measures due to the plummeting air traffic.

“The airlines are reacting quickly, adapting their operational programs to the demand and health recommendations of each region at all times. At the same time, not only the programming is being adjusted, which will make it inevitable to adjust the templates as well, since the airlines are being forced to take extraordinary measures to mitigate the impact of this crisis on both their operations and their results. long-term financial statements, ”assured Javier Gándara, president of ALA.

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