JetBlue, travel and hotel companies pull forecasts due to coronavirus

(Reuters) - U.S. budget carrier JetBlue Airways Corp JBLU.O, online travel agency Booking Holdings Inc BKNG.O and at least two hotel owners abandoned their financial outlook on Monday as travel demand takes a hit from the coronavirus outbreak.

FILE PHOTO: The JetBlue Airways logo is seen on a revolving door entering John F. Kennedy Airport in the Queens borough of New York U.S., January 24, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The coronavirus, which emerged in the Chinese central province of Hubei late last year, has wrecked havoc to airline and travel stocks.

An industry body last week estimated that the outbreak could lower passenger revenue globally for airlines by as much as $113 billion this year.

JetBlue, which pulled its first-quarter and 2020 earnings forecast, said it was adjusting schedules between March and early May and was considering more flight cancellations.

Booking said that travel demand across Europe and North America has deteriorated since its forecast in February, forcing it to withdraw its first-quarter outlook. The company said it was unable quantify the impact of the outbreak on its future financial results.

Host Hotels and Resorts Inc HST.N, one of the largest owners of luxury and upper-upscale hotels in the United States, as well as smaller peer Sotherly Hotels Inc SOHO.O also retracted their 2020 financial outlook amid a number of corporate group cancellations.

JetBlue said the outbreak is expected to make at least a six percentage-point dent in its total revenue per available seat mile in the first quarter.

The carrier was considering voluntary time-off programs for employees, delaying some hiring and increasing the frequency with which it cleans aircraft.

JetBlue's U.S. rival Southwest Airlines Co LUV.N said last week it expected a hit of up to $300 million to its first-quarter operating revenue.

Another U.S. carrier Hawaiian Airlines Inc HA.O withdrew its outlook for unit revenue, a key profitability measure, citing "considerable uncertainty" about the virus impact.

On Sunday, Air New Zealand AIR.NZ also retired its full-year earnings outlook, while implementing a hiring freeze and offering unpaid leave to staff.

Reporting by Rachit Vats, Uday Sampath and Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Arun Koyyur