Coronavirus: British Airways suspends all Gatwick flights

British Airways will suspend all flights to and from London's Gatwick airport amid a collapse in demand due to the coronavirus.

It follows EasyJet's suspension of flights after the government advised against all but essential travel.

British Airways told staff it was facing a challenging market environment in "unprecedented circumstances", according to an email seen by the BBC.

The airline said it would contact customers to "discuss their options".

"Due to the considerable restrictions and challenging market environment, like many other airlines, we will temporarily suspend our flying schedule at Gatwick," the airline said in a statement.

Shares in IAG, which owns British Airways, have more than halved in value since the beginning of the month. Although its share price rose by 8.4% to 218.7p on Tuesday.

While BA continues to fly from its main hub of Heathrow, it does so on a much reduced timetable as travellers scramble to make it back to the UK.

Yesterday, EasyJet grounded its entire fleet of planes and said it could not give a date for when they will restart.

The international air transport association, IATA, says the crisis in the industry caused by the coronavirus outbreak will "undoubtedly" cause some airlines to collapse, while others will only begin to recover towards the end of the year.

With severe travel restrictions in force in countries around the world, many airlines have had to suspend routes and ground large numbers of aircraft. because little money is coming in, except from cargo services, they are burning through their cash reserves.

IATA expects them to run up collective losses of $39bn in the three months to the end of June, a figure described as devastating.

Among the biggest costs they face is a potential $35bn bill for refunding tickets.