Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon will cut 90% of its mainland China flights over the next two months, citing a “consequential significant drop” in market demand owing to the coronavirus outbreak.

The two carriers add that there will be “significant reductions” across the rest of their respective networks for the same period. About 30% of capacity is expected to be cut, depending on market conditions, the carriers state.

“These reductions are temporary for now and are driven by the commercial and operational realities at the current time, as well as projections in short-term demand,” Cathay adds. It stresses that its financial position “remains strong”.

In late January, Cathay, along with other Hong Kong-based carriers, jointly announced they would be halving capacity into mainland China, in a bid by the Hong Kong government to stem the spread of the virus.

The outbreak is believed to have begun in Wuhan, which has since been placed on an indefinite lockdown.

Cathay’s latest round of cuts comes months after it said it would be cutting seat capacity by 1.4% year-on-year for 2020. The move reversed an earlier plan which indicated the carrier was looking at growing capacity by 3.3% this year.

Cathay was hard hit in the latter half of 2019 by the territory’s ongoing political unrest. The airline reported consecutive months of falling passenger traffic, and warned that its earnings for the second half of 2019 would be “significantly below” the first half.