Vienna Airport to launch savings programme in response to coronavirus spread

VIENNA, March 2 (Reuters) - Vienna Airport on Monday said it would introduce a savings programme in response to the coronavirus outbreak to ensure it can reach its 2020 earnings target.

The Austrian airport operator said it was still aiming for an increase in 2020 net profit to 180 million euros ($200 million) from 175.7 million euros last year.

Much depended on the further spread of the new virus, which has infected more than 87,000 and killed almost 3,000 people worldwide. The aviation sector is among the hardest hit as businesses around the globe have curbed travel.

However, Vienna Airport said it remained optimistic for the medium and long term.

“As in previous similar situations with SARS, Ebola, 9/11 or during the economic crisis in 2009, aviation will recover quickly from temporary slumps,” Vienna Airport co-chief Julian Jaeger said.

The number of passengers in Vienna rose by 9.8% in the Jan. 1 to Feb. 27 period but declined between 9% and 12% in recent days, the group said. ($1 = 0.9019 euros) (Reporting by Kirsti Knolle Editing by Michelle Martin)