Coronavirus fears cause drop in travel as students prepare for spring break

Delta: A third of seats could be empty on March flights

ORLANDO, Fla. – With students across Central Florida getting ready for spring break next week, airline companies say coronavirus fears are leading to a dramatic drop in travel demand.

Officials with Delta Airlines said the company expects as many as a third of seats to be empty this month on flights within the U.S.

The drop in bookings has prompted American Airlines to reduce international capacity by 10% while Delta said it’s cutting international flights by as much as 25%.

On Wednesday, travelers at Orlando International Airport said they had discussions about the risk of coronavirus before deciding to board a flight.

“There’s always a concern when you’re flying that you’re going to get sick,” traveler Theresa Maksymow said. “I think if we were flying out of the country, we would have stayed home.”

Stephan Kestler traveled with his family from Germany and said they took extra hygienic precautions to protect themselves.

“A lot of our friends and family, they tried to persuade us to cancel, but we said, ‘No, why? It’s not much more than a flu,’” Kestler said.

On Tuesday, Delta Airlines released a video that showed cleaning efforts being made to keep passengers safe.

The company said it uses a fogging mist that will kill viruses on surfaces inside their jets.

“You have people touching everything on a plane, so I think that’s a good idea,” Maksymow said.

About the Author:

Mark Lehman became a News 6 reporter in July 2014, but he's been a Central Florida journalist and part of the News 6 team for much longer. While most people are fast asleep in their bed, Mark starts his day overnight by searching for news on the streets of Central Florida.