Airlines including British Airways and EasyJet are selling tickets for flights in May despite health officials warning a global lockdown could last for months.
BA, which is suspending 30,000 cabin crew on 80 percent pay, is selling a range of tickets from May 1, including £32 flights between Gatwick and Bergamo, Italy.
EasyJet is also selling tickets for May 1 departures to virus-stricken Europe at £34.99 despite grounding its entire fleet amid the coronavirus pandemic.
And tour operator Tui is selling package holidays for April 21 onwards, including a £330 per person break to Alicante, according to The Times.
It comes as countries essentially shut down in a bid to slow the spreading infection, closing their borders and grinding their economies to a halt.
The World Health Organization this week confirmed that over a million people worldwide have contracted the Wuhan coronavirus.
Airlines including British Airways and EasyJet are selling tickets for flights in May despite health officials warnings a global lockdown could last for months (stock photo)
BA, which is suspending 30,000 cabin crew on 80 percent pay, is selling a range of tickets from May 1, including £32 flights between Gatwick and Bergamo, Italy
The news of the airlines selling tickets comes as Heathrow Airport sparked fury after announcing it will keep one of its runways open amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Furious passengers returning to the UK bemoaned the lack of checks and advice upon landing as the spread of the killer bug – that has infected more than one million and killed 53,000 – intensifies.
The London hub will operate its landings and takeoffs from one strip from Monday April 6 to ‘increase resilience and safety for staff, passengers and cargo’.
The airport has two runways and will alternate which one they keep open on a weekly basis.
Home Secretary Priti Patel last month called for the UK borders to be closed to stop people arriving from coronavirus hotspots to prevent its spread.
BA is owned by Madrid-based, International Airlines Group, whose boss Willie Walsh (left) saw his pay jump 5.5 percent to £3.2 million last year – despite tumbling profits
A spokesperson for EasyJet said: ‘At this stage there can be no certainty of the date for restarting commercial flights and we are evaluating continuously based on changing regulations and customer demand.
‘Whilst our crew are furloughed for two months we remain ready to operate within that timeframe if we are able to do so.
‘We have an ongoing rolling cancellation programme in place and are working through these having taken April off sale.’
A Tui spokesperson said: ‘As the advice against all but essential travel is currently in place until 16 April, all holidays departing after this date are still available to book and planned to operate. Should the advice be extended, we will proactively contact affected customers to discuss their options and take holidays off sale.’
The UK’s largely-service economy has been trashed by the coronavirus panic, with British air travel plummeting by nearly 90 percent compared to last year.
Only 832 flights were handled in UK airspace on April 2 compared to 7,240 which were handled on the equivalent flying day last year, the Nats said.
The British Airways check-in area is seen empty at Gatwick airport, as the coronavirus spreads
The billionaire founder of easyJet Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou (pictured) was awarded a £60million dividend from the ailing business. It has grounded all its planes and furloughed staff
EasyJet planes are seen grounded at Edinburgh Airport as all its 1,000-plus routes closed
Military flights, air ambulance, police and goods delivered via air freight are still operational, but commercial air travel has been vastly reduced worldwide.
At the end of March, air traffic volumes in Germany were also down by 80 percent, as well as 82 percent in France, 85 percent in Spain, and 88 percent in Italy.
Nats said it would upload weekly data visualisations to Twitter to show the continuing impact of coronavirus on UK air traffic.
UK airports have responded to the collapse in flight numbers by significantly scaling down their operations. London Gatwick closed one of its two terminals and introduced limited runway hours for scheduled flights on Wednesday.
London City Airport is now closed to commercial and private flights while Southend Airport is only open three days per week.
Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace UK, said: ‘Declining numbers of flights are a good thing for the climate, but the saddening circumstances which have brought about this decline, the Covid-19 pandemic, have caused significant human suffering and are surely the least ideal way to deliver this decline.’
Ryanair expects to carry ‘minimal if any’ traffic this April and May, that the number of passengers it carried in March was 48% lower than the same month last year.
The WHO has confirmed that over one million people have tested positive for the coronavirus
It is currently flying less than 20 daily flights, compared to its usual 2,500.
The International Air Transport Association has estimated that the UK could see 113.5 million fewer passengers travelling through its airports in 2020.
Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund’s managing director today warned that the world’s economy had come to a standstill due to the pandemic.
Kristalina Georgieva described the situation as ‘humanity’s darkest hour’ and that the world was in a recession more severe than the 2008 financial crisis.
She said: ‘This is a crisis like no other, never in the history of the IMF have we witnessed the world economy coming to a standstill.
‘We are now in recession. It is way worse than the global financial crisis. It is a crisis that requires all of us to come together.’
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