Millions of holidays at risk as coronavirus threat sees airlines cancel flights

The coronavirus outbreak has put holiday plans for millions of Brits at risk.

Cases of the deadly virus have been reported in every continent but Antarctica.

And in Europe alone, the number of infected patients has reached 450.

After 12 people died from the virus in Italy, the Foreign Office warned holidaymakers against visiting 10 small towns in Lombardy an Veneto unless the trips are “essential”.

British Airways also cancelled dozens of flights to Milan as fearful tourists cancelled their trips and headed elsewhere instead.

Following the drop in demand, the airline “merged” around 22 return flights between Heathrow and Milan.

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A spokesperson said: “To match reduced demand due to the continuing coronavirus issue, we are merging a small number of flights to and from Milan.

“We will be contacting customers on cancelled flights so we can discuss their travel options including alternative British Airways flights within two hours of their original departure time where possible, full refunds or booking for a later date of travel.

“We understand that some customers flying to/from northern Italy may wish to change their travel plans and have introduced flexible booking options.”

Those who hope to travel to China may also be affected.

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have both suspended flights to the mainland.

As coronavirus cases continue to spring up, there are fears that the travel industry will continue to face problems.

Last week, the International Air Transport Association predicted that airlines could see annual losses of £22 billion because of the virus.

While the possibility of coronavirus impacting millions of holidays seems far-fetched, it would happen if British cities were put on lockdown like have been in China.

It is also something to consider after a secret government report warned that over half a million Brits could be killed in a coronavirus pandemic.

Ministers are braced for 50million people to catch the killer Covid-19 bug – meaning that 80% of the population could be infected.

A memo seen by The Sun says the “reasonable worst-case” would involve infection rates snowballing for three months before killing over 500,000.

The figures are included in a “sensitive” government report called “Covid-19 Reasonable Worst Case Scenario”.

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So what do you do if you have a flight booked?

We’d recommend looking at Foreign Office advice before cancelling your holiday.

Even though there are warnings against visiting China and certain places in Italy, the government body hasn’t told Brits not to travel.

If you are put-off taking a trip, bear in mind that you can’t claim the money back unless health officials have explicitly said not to.

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “People are understandably concerned about how their travel plans will be impacted, and a lack of clear and timely information has left many travellers confused about their options.

“While the government has now updated its advice to cover the Italian locations that have experienced an outbreak, those travelling to nearby cities like Milan or Verona still won’t be able to cancel and claim on travel insurance, nor will those travelling to Tenerife.”

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