Wizz Air could cut 10% of capacity due to coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: A Wizz Air Airbus 321-231HA-LXJ aircraft taxis to runway at the Chopin International Airport in Warsaw, Poland January 8, 2018. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

LONDON (Reuters) - Wizz Air could cut capacity by 10% from next month due to the drop in demand caused by the coronavirus epidemic, it said on Wednesday, extending measures that have already seen the low-cost carrier axe two-thirds of flights to Italy.

“Subject to further impact on demand from COVID-19 (the virus), we are considering further adjusting network capacity in the magnitude of 10% in the first quarter of financial year 2021,” it said.

The Central and Eastern Europe-focused airline said it was difficult to predict the extent and duration of the outbreak and its impact on its new financial year, which begins next month.

Chief Executive Jozsef Varadi said: “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.”

Airlines have been suspending flights and modifying services in response to the virus outbreak.

Cancellations were initially focused on mainland China - the source of the outbreak - but have since been extended to other regions that have seen clusters of cases, including Italy.

Wizz Air’s rivals easyJet and Ryanair have also cancelled flights into and out of Italy.

Shares in the London-listed carrier, which have fallen 23% in the last two weeks, were flat in early deals.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Jan Harvey and Mark Potter