EASYJET said the majority of its planes could be grounded, Ryanair did not rule out a full grounding, and British Airways owner IAG revealed that its capacity for April and May would be cut by at least 75 per cent compared with 2019 levels as the country’s biggest airlines prepared against the coronavirus crisis.

IAG’s shares fell by around a quarter, easyJet’s by 21% and Ryanair’s by 18% as the impact of the pandemic started to become more clear. Shares in Tui, which suspended all package holidays, dropped by a third.

Rolls-Royce, which builds aeroplane engines, also lost around a fifth of its value.

READ MORE: EasyJet cancels UK flights to Spain over coronavirus fears

EasyJet earlier became the latest airline to cancel all its flight to and from Spain which followed the decision made by Jet2, where they announced an immediate suspension of flights to and from Mainland Spain, the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands for the next seven days.

EasyJet said on Monday it is introducing “further significant cancellations” as a result of travel restrictions caused by Covid-19.

The airline said in a statement: “Due to the unprecedented level of travel restrictions being imposed by governments in response to the coronavirus pandemic and significantly reduced levels of customer demand, easyJet has undertaken further significant cancellations.

“These actions will continue on a rolling basis for the foreseeable future and could result in the grounding of the majority of the easyJet fleet.

“EasyJet will continue to operate rescue flights for short periods where we can, in order to repatriate customers.”

READ MORE: Jet2 flights to Spain cancelled 

British Airways’ parent company IAG also announced plans to reduce capacity.

It said in a statement: “IAG is implementing further initiatives in response to this challenging market environment.

“Capacity, in terms of available seat kilometres, in the first quarter of 2020 is now expected to be reduced by around 7.5% compared to last year.

“For April and May, the group plans to reduce capacity by at least 75% compared to the same period in 2019. “IAG is also taking actions to reduce operating expenses and improve cash flow.

“These include grounding surplus aircraft, reducing and deferring capital spending, cutting non-essential and non-cyber related IT spend, freezing recruitment and discretionary spending, implementing voluntary leave options, temporarily suspending employment contracts and reducing working hours."

Travel company Tui said: "In this rapidly changing environment the safety and welfare of our guests and employees worldwide remains of paramount importance and thus Tui Group has decided, in line with government guidelines, to suspend the vast majority of all travel operations until further notice, including package travel, cruises and hotel operations."

The company also said: "This temporary suspension is aimed at contributing to global governmental efforts to mitigate the effects of the spread of the Covid-19."