Federal health officials have told older people and people with chronic, underlying health conditions to avoid non-essential air travel.

JetBlue's president, Joanna Geraghty, wants to reassure everyone else that they can still fly.

"If you’re outside of the high-risk category," she told USA TODAY by phone Wednesday, "it’s as safe as anything else in your life." 

To be sure, JetBlue and other airlines are seeing a steep drop in demand.

The airline, which is waiving cancel or change fees for flights booked through April 30 for travel through Oct. 24, is looking to cut its capacity by 5% in the coming months, and Geraghty said the airline will look at further cuts as needed.

"We’re looking on a month by month basis," she said. "We’ll take additional capacity cuts as needed."

Geraghty echoed fellow industry leaders who have noted that the drop in demand due to the coronavirus is not unlike the downturn airlines experienced after 9/11.

Geraghty said that so far, it looks even worse.

Still, she said, the airline industry recovered from 9/11, and it's in a stronger position today.

"JetBlue and airline industry is better prepared from a bottom-line standpoint," she said. "We're nimble."

Still, the next few months will be challenging. The World Health Organization officially declared a global coronavirus pandemic Wednesday. Even before then, companies were canceling conferences and telling employees to avoid nonessential travel.

Austin scrapped its banner South by Southwest festival. The NCAA is closing off men's and women's college basketball tournament games this month to the public. Cities and entire states are banning large gatherings of people and even canceling St. Patrick's Day parades. Travel demand will continue to fall.

Geraghty declined to say how much demand has fallen for JetBlue. To put it into perspective, an email Amtrak sent to its employees on Wednesday showed a 50% decline in bookings and a 300% increase in cancellations. 

Geraghty said JetBlue is deep-cleaning "every piece" of its aircrafts, including walls, ceilings, shades and lavatories. It is reducing the number of touch points and providing passengers with disinfectant wipes.

"We’ve increased the rigor of our cleaning," she said. "We’re really trying to drive home good hygiene."

She said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will notify the carrier if any passenger has tested positive for the coronavirus, and will notify other passengers who were on the same flight.

She said the airline will also notify any employees, either on the aircraft or the terminal, if they might have come in contact with a passenger who tests positive.

The CDC categorizes air travel as medium-risk for exposure to the coronavirus and advises older people and people with serious underlying health issues to avoid flying. For everyone else, Geraghty said it's no different from going to the movies or the grocery store.

"Our view is it’s just as safe," she said.