Lufthansa to ground 150 planes over coronavirus

FRANKFURT AM MAIN, Germany – German airline giant Lufthansa said Wednesday, March 4, it would ground 150 of its more than 750 planes worldwide, days after announcing a slimmed-down timetable over the effects of the novel coronavirus.

"25 long-haul aircraft and 125 short- and medium-haul aircraft" will no longer fly, a spokesman for the group also including carriers Eurowings, Austrian, and Swiss told Agence France-Presse.

Shares in Lufthansa have plunged in recent days as the likely impact of the COVID-19 disease on the aviation sector in particular has become clearer.

The stock was up slightly in afternoon trading in Frankfurt, adding 0.6% to trade at 11.98 euros ($13.29) just after 3:30 pm (1430 GMT) but slightly underperforming the DAX blue-chip index.

It remains around 27% lower than at the start of the year.

On Monday, March 2, Lufthansa said it would slash its flight plan by 25%, especially on short- and medium-haul routes including to virus-hit areas of Italy but also within Germany.

The group has suspended routes to other virus hotspots, including China and Iran, to late April.

Lufthansa has also suspended new hires as part of its measures to cushion the business impact of the virus, which it said Monday was "not yet possible to estimate."

The International Civil Aviation Organization has said that the virus outbreak could mean a $4-billion to $5-billion drop in worldwide airline revenue– Rappler.com