eDreams ODIGEO has reported a 12% drop in bookings across the group since the coronavirus outbreak.

The online travel giant has lowered its profit forecast slightly to the end of March to €130 million from a range of €130-134 million previously.

Reporting its results for the first nine months of the fiscal year, earnings before tax increased 10% to €86.8 million.

Bookings had been on an upward trajectory over this period with December seeing an 11% year-on-year increase.

But the company said after the coronavirus outbreak, it saw a big drop in bookings to Asia and more recently to all destinations, especially Italy.

Chief executive Dana Dunne said: “While the impact of the coronavirus has brought a slowdown to the industry, the underlying fundamentals of online travel are strong, and once the virus is contained, a return to normal trading patterns will resume.

“I find comfort in the resilience of our business model and our strong financial position.”

Meanwhile Aito has called on governments in affected coronavirus countries to work with the UK travel industry amid the ongoing outbreak.

Chairman Derek Moore said it was a “waiting game” as operator members reported a slow down in bookings.

He said most operators were allowing cancellations to affected areas for up to three weeks.

“Following a good level of bookings for 2020 in December and January, bookings have understandably slowed down now that coronavirus is on our screens daily.

“No-one has any idea how soon coronavirus will be brought under control, so it’s a waiting game at present, and all Aito members are using their common sense and, much as with the volcanic ash cloud situation, we are all mucking in to help each other out.

“The situation is changing daily and will doubtless continue to do so over the coming weeks until things stabilise.”

He added: “The travel industry hopes very much for the co-operation and assistance of those governments involved, since they are the ones controlling lock-down zones and overall management of the situation in their destinations.”

In the last 24 hours, Saudi Arabia has banned foreigners from visiting the country’s most holy sites, Mecca and Medina.

Non-religious tourists from virus-affected countries are also barred form entering.

It is not yet known if the Hajj pilgrimage, which takes place in July, will be affected.

The ban comes as the virus spread overnight, with 400 cases in Italy now reported and several new cases in European countries.

Worldwide, more than 80,000 people in 40 countries have contracted coronavirus.

Elsewhere a ban on foreign visitors from China to Australia has also been extended a further week and Delta is to reduce the number of weekly flights between the US and South Korea.

The carrier will pull its service between Minneapolis and Seoul-Incheon from February 29 – April 30.

Delta will also its services Atlanta, Detroit and Seattle and Seoul-Incheon to five times a week.

The carrier’s new service from Incheon to Manila, scheduled to begin on March 29, will now start on May 1.