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Coronavirus: Airlines suspend, reduce China flights

Wednesday January 29 2020

 Lufthansa

A Boeing 747-8 aircraft of the German airline Lufthansa is pictured at the airport in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany on June 12, 2018. Lufthansa has cancelled all flights to and from China on January 29, 2020 amid concerns over the deadly new coronavirus. PHOTO | DANIEL ROLAND| AFP 

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A number of airlines say they are halting or reducing flights to China as the country struggles to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

China has advised its citizens to postpone trips abroad and cancelled overseas group tours, while several countries have urged their citizens to avoid travel to China if possible.

The coronavirus epidemic has killed 132 people, infected nearly 6,000, and spread to some 15 countries.

Airlines that have announced changes:

Air France suspended its three weekly flights to Wuhan on January 24, but as of Wednesday morning said it was maintaining its 23 weekly flights to Beijing and Shanghai.

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HALT FLIGHTS

This Myanmar-based airline has confirmed it will halt flights to the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou from February 1.

American Airlines said it will suspend flights from Los Angeles to Beijing and Shanghai from February 9 through March 27.

Flights from Dallas/Fort Worth to Beijing and Shanghai have been maintained, the US carrier said.

British Airways said it had suspended all flights to and from mainland China. The airline flies daily from London's Heathrow airport to Shanghai and Beijing.

The airline said it had taken the move following UK government advice against all but essential travel to China.

The Hong Kong-based carrier said it would progressively reduce capacity by 50 percent or more on its routes to mainland China from Thursday through to the end of March.

The reduction concerns both Cathay Pacific and its Cathay Dragon subsidiary.

Finnair, which offers many connections between Europe and Asia, said the suspension of group travel from China was leading it to suspend some flights beginning February 5 through most of March.

For the moment it will continue daily flights to Beijing and Shanghai, two daily flights to Hong Kong, and two flights a week to Guangzhou.

 15 CHINESE CITIES

Indonesia's Lion Air Group, Southeast Asia's biggest carrier by fleet size, is halting all flights to and from China owing to the deadly coronavirus, a company spokesman said Wednesday.

The suspension, which affects routes to 15 different Chinese cities, takes effect from February 1 until further notice.

Indonesia attracts more than one million Chinese tourists annually and hosts tens of thousands of guest workers.

German flag carrier Lufthansa is cancelling flights to mainland China until February 9.

The Lufthansa group, one of Europe's largest airline companies, said the decision also applied to flights run by its subsidiaries Swiss and Austrian Airlines.

Each of the carriers will fly to their respective destinations in China "one last time" to give passengers and crew "the opportunity to return to Germany, Switzerland and Austria", the group said in a statement.

The Lufthansa group normally operates 73 connections to and from mainland China a week, mainly to Beijing and Shanghai.

MAI has announced a suspension effective from Friday for charter flights to 10 Chinese cities and was allowing passengers booked on its regular service to Guangzhou to change their travel plans without charge.

MNA has said it will halt flights to Hong Kong and Chengdu from Saturday.

The low-cost Ukrainian airline said it will halt charter services to China's resort island of Hainan until March 28.

UIA said it would halt services to the Chinese resort island of Hainan until February 24.

US carrier United Airlines said it will trim its services to China from the United States in light of a big drop in demand following a call by US health officials to avoid non-essential travel to the country.

OUTBREAK

United said certain flights to Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai beginning February 1 through February 8 from three US cities were affected.

Russia's Urals Airlines, which had already suspended flights to several destinations in China, announced on Wednesday it was cutting some services to Europe popular with Chinese tourists, including Paris and Rome, because of the outbreak.

Kazakhstan says it will halt all transport links with China, beginning with road transport on February 1 and flights from February 3.

Some airlines say that for the moment they are not adjusting their operations to China, including SAS and Virgin Atlantic.