Airlines begin canceling Italy flights amid coronavirus outbreak

International air carriers have begun canceling flights to and from Italian destinations based on a reduction in demand after the novel coronavirus outbreak.

On Friday, discount air carrier easyJet said it was canceling flights to northern Italy, where the majority of the 600-plus coronavirus cases have been located. The announcement came a day after London-based British Airways and Wizz Air, another discount carrier, made similar announcements.

All three airlines said their decisions were based on “softening demand” from would-be travelers.

“We have seen a significant softening of demand and load factors into and out of our northern Italian bases,” easyJet said in a statement Friday.

Both easyJet and British Airways said their flight schedules to northern Italian airports would remain suspended for the foreseeable future. Wizz Air said it will suspend around two-thirds of its flights to Italy for three weeks starting March 11.

Other airlines, including Belgium’s Brussels Airlines and Spain’s Iberia, said they were also cutting back on flight schedules.

On Thursday, Israel’s El Al became the first major airline to cancel all flights to Italy, citing the coronavirus outbreak.