Lufthansa Group is implementing a hiring freeze and offering staff unpaid leave as part of cost-cutting measures amid the impact on air travel demand from the coronavirus outbreak.

While the airline group says it is too early to estimate the earnings impact of the coronavirus outbreak, its network operators Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian have cancelled all flights to mainland China until the end of March and adjusted capacity to Hong Kong. Lufthansa says this is the equivalent of having 13 aircraft grounded.

”In order to counteract the economic impact of the coronavirus at an early stage, Lufthansa is implementing several measures to lower costs,” the group says.

“Among other things, all new hires planned for the airline with the crane will be reassessed, suspended or deferred to a later date. Lufthansa is also offering employees unpaid leave effective immediately.

”An expansion of part-time work options in the context of collective bargaining agreements is currently being examined.

It adds that in the administrative areas, the core brand Lufthansa will reduce its project volume by 10 percent and the budget for material costs by 20 percent.

The group says it will provide more details on the expected impact of the coronavirus outbreak at its full-year results briefing on 19 March.