KLM to slash up to 40% of flights, 2,000 jobs over coronavirus; "Crisis of unprecedented magnitude"

KLM and Air France planes at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris
KLM and Air France planes at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Parishzparisien@gmail.comDepositPhotosDeposit Photos

In response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Dutch flag carrier KLM announced it was slashing 25 percent of its schedule in March, and between 30-40 percent of its flights over the following three months. The airline said it would also cut the equivalent of up to two thousand full time jobs, starting on Saturday.

"The impact of the corona virus on aviation and KLM is enormous and the situation is constantly changing and deteriorating. With the latest developments in the US, we have entered a crisis of unprecedented magnitude, and it is clear that KLM must take drastic measures to deal with this exceptional situation," the airline said in a statement.

Cuts to it flight schedule have been persistent since early February, when it first began reducing its flights to Asia. At the time it had said it hoped to return to a normal schedule by April, but then its flight stoppage to and from Asia expanded further and destinations in Italy were added to the list, as well.

The reduction of jobs would affect the equivalent of between 1,500 and 2,000 full time positions. Remaining 2019 bonuses and profit sharing owed to KLM executives, management, and staff will not be paid for at least six months, the airline said in a statement released on Saturday.

It said it was negotiating with its unionized labor to reduce working hours by 30 percent next quarter. It was already expected the airline would ask its workers to schedule their days off sooner rather than later.

KLM is also rapidly phasing out its six remaining Boeing 747 aircraft, which seat over 400 people. The planes will stop flying as of April, eight months faster than previously planned.

These emergency measures are in addition to what it already announced, like a hiring and training freeze, and delaying major IT and commercial real estate. It has also halted most of its company business travel and outside consultancy work.

It will also reduce its investments by up to 400 million euros, and will implement further cost savings of up to 100 million euros, KLM said. It is also launching several initiatives to secure more financing if necessary, it said.

The airline had also significantly reduced its schedule 

The airline has also said it would look to the Dutch and European governments for more assistance if needed.