Airlines cut services to Chinese mainland as disease spreads

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/1/30 18:13:40

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Multiple international airlines have suspended or reduced flights to the Chinese mainland amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the country. A Chinese official said the moves represented market conduct due to the declining travel demand brought about by the epidemic.

China's civil aviation system is capable of providing adequate transport services for passengers, Zhu Tao, an official from Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said at a press conference in Beijing on Thursday.

International aviation company Lufthansa Group on Thursday announced it would cancel all flights of its subsidiary Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian Airlines to and from the mainland until February 9 due to concern over the epidemic, according to the company's official account on China's Twitter-like social media platform Weibo.

Flights to and from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region will still be serviced as scheduled, the statement said.

Lufthansa is not the first airline to temporarily cease services to the mainland amid the ongoing battle in China against the novel coronavirus-related pneumonia. Confirmed cases had reached 7,711 with 170 deaths by the end of Wednesday, according to China's National Health Commission.

Due to a significant decline in demand for travel to China, United Airlines is suspending a total of 24 round-trip flights between its hub cities and Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong from Saturday through February 9, said the US airline in a statement sent to the Global Times Wednesday.

"We will continue to monitor the situation as it develops and will adjust our schedule as needed," the airline said.

Other airlines including British Airways, Lion Air and Air Canada have also halted or reduced flights to China.

In addition to flight cuts, several countries or regions have announced they will suspend granting visas to travelers from China or from Wuhan, Central China's Hubei Province, which is alleged to be the origin of the epidemic and is now locked down in order to contain the virus' spread.

According to China's National Immigration Administration, the Philippines has suspended granting visas on arrival to Chinese citizens, and Malaysia temporarily banned the entry of travelers holding Chinese passports who were born in Hubei, or travelers whose passports were issued in Hubei.

Since many Chinese travelers are still stranded overseas, Zhu said CAAC is organizing flights or charter flights to bring the passengers back to China.

Airlines have also strived to help travelers from Wuhan fly back to the locked-down city. Domestic Juneyao Air on Tuesday brought 94 passengers from Osaka in Japan back to Wuhan with the approval of certain departments, according to a statement sent to the Global Times by the airline.


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