Hong Kong Airlines has announced that it will stop offering in-flight services such as food, drinks and blankets to minimise the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19).

South China Morning Post stated that it laid off 170 employees, most of which are flight attendants and said that Wednesday 19 February was their last day of work.

Business Class passengers will receive one bottle of water, and a cup of water will be provided to economy class passengers.

This is said to be temporary as the airline hopes to reduce the risk of the virus spread to the passengers and flight crew.

Passengers will also only receive newspapers and reading material stored inside the seat pocket.

The situation will be monitored by the airline and plans to make adjustments according to the situation.

Hong Kong Airlines’ Club Autus lounge at the Hong Kong International Airport has also been closed ‘until further notice’.

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South China Morning Post added that the layoff of employees is to cut costs as the airline was ‘on the brink of collapse at the beginning of the year’, citing sources. It also recently announced that it would lay off 400 staff.

In a separate development, Hong Kong’s flagship carrier Cathay Pacific Airways stated that it expects a decrease in profits after it cancelled two flights for every five in February and March due to the Covid-19 outbreak.