The Lufthansa Group of airlines has announced plans to cut capacity by up to half due to a “drastic decline” in bookings and “numerous cancellations” caused by the Covid-19 coronavirus.

German carrier Lufthansa is even considering grounding its entire fleet of Airbus A380 aircraft at Frankfurt and Munich airports.

The reduction in capacity of up to 50% applies across the group which includes not just Lufthansa but Swiss, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines and Eurowings.

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The group has also announced an “extensive” cost-savings programme including a recruitment freeze, part-time working and unpaid leave for staff.

In statement issued late on Friday, Lufthansa said it was in talks with trade unions “to avoid dismissals”.

The group blamed the further reductions in flight capacity on “the exceptional circumstances caused by the spread of Covid-19 and the resulting drastic decline in bookings, as well as numerous flight cancellations”.

Lufthansa announced reductions in capacity of up to 25% across the group earlier this week.

It said: “Taking into consideration the loss in demand, capacity is set to be reduced by up to 50% in the coming weeks. These adjustments apply to all passenger airlines in the Lufthansa Group.

“Additionally, the Lufthansa Group is considering taking the entire Airbus A380 fleet (14 aircraft) temporarily out of service in Frankfurt and Munich.

“These measures are designed to reduce the financial consequences following the decline in demand.

“It complements planned savings in the area of personnel, spanning material costs and project budgets, and other liquidity measures.”

The group repeated its statement earlier this week that: “It is not yet possible to determine the financial burden expected from current developments.”

Lufthansa is due to publish its latest results on March 19.

Speaking at an Airlines for Europe summit in Brussels in Tuesday, Lufthansa Group chief executive Carsten Spohr said: “Long-range traffic is a concern for us. This may not be a long-term thing, but we don’t know.”