EU bans all non-essential travel
The EU has locked down its entire region for travel between EU and a Non-EU nation. Those who can cross the internal border would be diplomats, family members of EU nation and goods. France has announced a total lockdown for 15 days with Germany also locking down its nation. This is along with Italy, Spain, Poland, Austria and Lithuania who have imposed a total lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus. According to this, movement between EU and non-EU country would be suspended. Though UK does not come under EU this ban would not include citizens of UK. This comes days after the US had announced restrictions for travel between US and Europe.
What does it mean for airlines ?
The recent travel ban by US on Europe had affected most of the transatlantic airlines resulting in grounding of their long haul fleet and job cuts. Though the ban only prevented non-American citizens, flights were still being operated by airlines between Europe and the US to bring back American citizens.
This is set to be a bigger setback for airlines. Most of the airlines within Europe had already started grounding their aircraft. British Airways a few days back had said they would be forced to ground their fleet in a manner they hadn’t done so before, Jet2 had turned their planes around mid-air en-route Spain due to their lockdown . Austrian Airlines, Air Baltic, SAS, LOT had already grounded their fleet. Airlines such as KLM, Norwegian had grounded most of their fleet and were cutting capacity. Brussels Airlines had said it would operate until the 21st of March but would start reducing operations until then with fellow airline in the group, Lufthansa and Swiss grounding most of its fleet.
Though UK is not part of the EU their citizens would be allowed to get back to their country. Airlines are in addition keeping a standby aircraft to bring back their citizens like how British Airways had sent three of their B777 to get back their citizens who were stuck on a cruise ship in Havana.
This move potentially would ground all the European Airlines except those airlines who would use standby aircrafts to get their citizens back. We will have to wait and see how airlines are going to cope with grounding of their aircraft and the financial burden for a time period which is unknown.