March 3, 2020 / 9:22 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Wizz Air flies more passengers in Feb even as coronavirus hits global travel

(Adds shares, Ryanair’s passengers, background)

March 3 (Reuters) - Hungarian low-cost airline Wizz Air on Tuesday reported a 26% jump in the number of passengers for February, even as the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak disrupted air travel.

The company said it flew 3 million passengers last month, up from 2.5 million a year earlier.

The virus, which emerged in China, has sent demand for travel tumbling in recent weeks as the outbreak spreads around the world, raising fears of a pandemic that could plunge the global economy into recession.

Wizz Air said last month it would decrease the frequency of its Romania, Poland, Italy and Israel routes, cutting two-thirds of all flights on affected routes over three weeks between March 11 and April 2.

The company’s shares were up 3% at 3,425 pence at 0848 GMT. They have fallen more than 16% so far this year, through Monday’s close.

Meanwhile, rival Ryanair said it flew 10.5 million passengers last month, a 9% jump from a year earlier.

The Irish airline has said it would cut capacity in and out of Italy, its largest market, by 25% for three weeks due to a significant drop off in bookings since the outbreak. (Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Sriraj Kalluvila)

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