Brussels Airlines has reported a plunge in booking activity amid the epidemic of the new coronavirus, with Europeans bracing for the sickness as the number of confirmed cases throughout the continent rises.
The airline said that it has registered a change in the booking behaviour of costumers and that it will take steps to assess the impact of the situation, spokesperson Kim Daenen told Bruzz.
The news comes as several carriers in Europe ground flights to and from China and namely to the city of Wuhan after it was identified as the epicentre of the outbreak.
While Brussels Airlines does not operate direct flights to China, its parent company Lufthansa has said that it was already rolling out measures to soften the economic blow of the epidemic.
All of Lufthansa’s China-bound flights have been cancelled until the end of March, with the airline group also grounding flights from its subsidiaries Swiss Air and Austrian Airlines.
The company has grounded 19 airplanes in total and is expected to release a report on the degree of the economic impact in a report expected by mid-March.
The news comes as staff at Belgian airports undergo training following a fast-paced outbreak in Italy, where a surge in confirmed cases and deaths related to the new coronavirus surged in the space of a weekend.
As the outbreak in Italy —the largest in Europe so far—escalated, with new cases confirmed in Switzerland and Spain since the start of the week, Belgium’s health minister, Maggie De Block, said closing down the borders was of “no use” since “viruses do not respect borders.”