Updated Mar 16, 2020 - Health

United Airlines to cut capacity by 50% over the coronavirus

A United Airlines plane lands at San Francisco International Airport on March 6 in Burlingame, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

United Airlines said in a statement Sunday it will cut capacity by about 50% for April and May from Monday, as the airline sees a drop in demand because of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The big picture: The announcement comes after Delta Airlines announced Friday it would reduce its flight capacity by 40% for the next four months over the outbreak. United said even with the cuts it announced, "we're expecting load factors to drop into the 20–30% range — and that's if things don't get worse."

Go deeper: Coronavirus rattles travelers — and airlines

Editor's note: This article has been updated with more comment from United and context.

Go deeper

United CEO: Coronavirus impact for airlines "much worse" than 9/11 aftermath

United CEO Oscar Munoz. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz said in a letter sent Monday to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and congressional leaders that the coronavirus outbreak's financial impact on airlines is "much worse than the stark downturn that we saw in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks," as first reported by Politico.

Why it matters: Munoz asked government leaders "to please act quickly — this week — to protect our livelihoods" and projected that the company's revenue this month will be $1.5 billion lower than March 2019.

Delta cuts capacity deeper than post-9/11 levels due to coronavirus

Photo: George Frey/Getty Images

Delta Airlines announced Friday it will reduce its flight capacity by 40% for the next four months due to the coronavirus outbreak, a dramatic increase from its original 15% reduction.

The big picture: It's a deeper cut to capacity than Delta instituted after the Sept. 11 attacks. The airline industry has had to curb flights as it grapples with lack of demand, as Americans are advised to avoid nonessential travel. Delta CEO Ed Bastian will also forgo his entire salary for the year.

Trump vows to help airlines slammed by the coronavirus outbreak

A United Airlines plane sits parked at a gate at San Francisco International Airport. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President Trump on Monday vowed to "backstop" airlines that have been hurt by the rapid plunge in air travel bookings amid the coronavirus outbreak, saying, "It's not their fault."

The big picture: U.S. airlines are in talks with the government on a variety of financial assistance measures, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing people briefed on the discussions.

Go deeperArrowMar 16, 2020 - Health