JetBlue abandons 2020 forecast amid virus outbreak

JetBlue Airways on Monday withdrew its first-quarter and full-year earnings forecast and said it was considering voluntary time-off programs for employees, as the coronavirus outbreak wreaks havoc on the global travel industry.

JetBlue said it is adjusting schedules between March and early May due to falling demand, and is evaluating further flight cancellations as the situation around the epidemic develops. The company also said it was delaying some hiring and increasing the frequency with which it cleans aircraft.

An industry body last week estimated the outbreak could lower passenger revenue globally for airlines by as much as $113 billion this year, as demand collapses.

On Sunday, Air New Zealand also withdrew its full-year earnings outlook, while implementing a hiring freeze and offering unpaid leave to staff.

JetBlue's U.S. rival Southwest Airlines said last week it expected a hit of up to $300 million to its first-quarter operating revenue.

JetBlue said the outbreak is expected to make at least a 6 percentage-point dent in its total revenue per available seat mile in the first quarter, although trends were worsening.