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  • By Jeffrey Teruel

Wuhan coronavirus fears affecting global travel


As the world's observes the ongoing Wuhan Coronavirus spread, the global aviation industry is taking note and making changes to help mitigate the spread of the virus. So far, we've seen the closure of all travel to/from the city of Wuhan and airlines suspending flights to the city during what would otherwise be a regular mass travel period that is the Chinese New Year holiday.

Since the first cases and initial reports came out, there have been nearly 3,000 cases reported throughout the world with around 80 confirmed deaths as health officials continue to study the strain of virus and treat those who have been affected.

Among the hardest hit areas has been the city of Wuhan in China's Hubei Province. With a population of 11 million people, Chinese officials have suspended all travel options to/from the city which resulted in the suspension of majority of flights to/from the Wuhan Tianhe Airport.

In 2018, Wuhan's airport handled over 24 million passengers and serves as a key hub for Chinese-based carriers China Southern and China Eastern. With a large selection of domestic destinations, the airport also has non-stop flights to cities within the Asia-Pacific region as well as Europe and North America. Among the major routes include flights from Wuhan to Tokyo, Hong Kong, Paris, London, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

As a result of the flight cancellations, Chinese officials have ordered airlines to waive cancellation fees amid the ongoing coronavirus scare.

With the disruption of travel plans and flight suspensions, other nearby Asian countries have seen their airlines suspend flight operations to Wuhan. Among the prominent airlines that have done so include Cathay Pacific and Singapore's Scoot.

In addition to the flight disruptions, airports have worked with airline officials to implement health screenings of passengers arriving from at-risk destinations. Governments of several countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom have advised against non-essential travel to the affected areas.

Some cities and countries such as the Hong Kong SAR has banned the entry of travelers from Wuhan and the Hebei province area.

Several airlines are now reducing or cancelling trans-continental flights to/from China.

Among the most prominent airlines include British Airways, which will suspend all flights between England and mainland China as the United Kingdom government issued a warning to its citizens to avoid non-essential travel to the country.

Another prominent carrier was Chicago-based United Airlines, which will suspend 24 round-trip flights that have been scheduled between February 1-8 between the United States and China. The move will affect flights operated by United from Shanghai-Pudong and Beijing-Capital to its stateside hubs San Francisco, Newark, Chicago, and Washington-Dulles. The reductions will also affect its flights from San Francisco to the Hong Kong SAR.

Along with United, American Airlines will also cancel flights between Los Angeles to both Shanghai and Beijing between February 9 to March 27. The Dallas-based airline will still continue flights to Hong Kong from its Los Angeles and Dallas-Fort Worth hubs.

Joining the US and British based airlines in cancelling all flights to China is Indonesia's Lion Air affecting 15 of the airlines routes to the country. The cancellations will take to effect on February 1 and according to a statement from the airline there is no timetable for the resumptions.

The news follows the move by Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific which announced it would cut its total number of flights to/from China by half - from 480 to 240 flights per week. (Flights in Asia)

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