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Finnair announces temporary layoffs for all staff in Finland over novel coronavirus

The airline said it also plans to take similar personnel measures in countries outside Finland.

Finnairin Airbus A319 -lentokone lensi Dublinista Helsinki-Vantaalle 22. helmikuuta.
Finnair Airbus A319 at Helsinki Airport. Image: Timo Jaakonaho / EPA

Finnish national airline Finnair announced on Wednesday it is planning temporary layoffs for its entire staff based in Finland, due to the economic impact that novel coronavirus has had on its business. The measure will affect more than 6,000 of its employees.

In a profit warning issued last week the firm warned that the spread of the virus has caused a decrease in demand on crucial Asian routes which could cause the airline to temporarily lay off employees.

Novel coronavirus causes a disease officially known as Covid-19, a respiratory tract infection that has spread from where it started in China to other countries and continents in recent months.

The situation has prompted mass quarantines in parts of Asia parts of Europe and caused many around the world to postpone or cancel their travel plans. Organisers have also pulled the plug on major public events and shut down some tourist attractions.

Furloughs to last 14 to 30 days

In a release issued Wednesday, Finnair said it will start negotiations with employee representatives next week concerning short-term layoffs that would affect all of its personnel based in Finland.

The airline said that according to its current estimate, the possible layoffs would be implemented so that all employees covered by the co-determination talks would be temporarily laid off for a 14-30 day period.

"The negotiations will start on 12 March and are expected to last for two weeks," it said in a statement. The airline said it also plans to take similar personnel measures in other countries.

However, the firm said it was offering customers with Finnair bookings to travel in March the "possibility to change their travel date to the same destination until the end of June 2020, if they so wish."

Finnair cancels more flights

The airline announced - or extended - cancellations of flights on Wednesday, as well.

Finnair said it was cancelling all flights to mainland China (Guangzhou, Nanjing, Beijing Capital, Beijing Daxing, Shanghai, Xi´an) until 30 April. Additionally, the airline is reducing travel on its route to Hong Kong to once per day, instead of the normal twice-daily flights.

It is also cancelling twice-weekly routes to Osaka, Japan (from 29 March - 24 October) and will fly to the Japanese city during the summer 10 times a week instead of 12.

Flights to Seoul, South Korea are cancelled from 9 March - April 16, and the airline said it is postponing the opening of a new route to Busan, South Korea until 1 July instead of at the end of March.

Following a travel advisory issued by the Finnish foreign ministry on Tuesday, the airline said it is also shutting down flights from Helsinki to Milan, Italy from 9 March - 7 April.

"Finnair will continue to follow the impacts of the coronavirus situation in demand for flights and will communicate further changes to its flights in due course," the airline's statement read.

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