As an outbreak of coronavirus that reportedly originated in Wuhan, China continues to spread, U.S. airlines are beginning to be impacted by travel advisories and a decrease in demand for flights to China.
United Airlines told Gizmodo in a statement by email that it has suspended some flights to multiple hubs in China as a result of the virus, with 24 flights currently impacted during the first week of February. Westbound flights will be impacted beginning February 1, while eastbound flights will be scaled back beginning February 2.
“Due to a significant decline in demand for travel to China, we are suspending some flights between our hub cities and Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai beginning Feb. 1 through Feb. 8,” the airline said. “We will continue to monitor the situation as it develops and will adjust our schedule as needed.”
The airline noted that while it is scaling back the number of flights to and from China, it is still operating out of its hubs. Delta Air Lines told Gizmodo that it’s currently offering a travel waiver to its customers but has not yet made any changes to its schedule. American Airlines, meanwhile, told Gizmodo in a statement that it’s coordinating with border and health officials but has not yet made any flight adjustments. Air Canada said in a statement that it is cancelling “select flights” to China and notifying customers.
“The health and safety of our customers and team members is our top priority,” the airline said. “We are in close contact with the US Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health officials and will coordinate with them on any required health and safety-related measures.”
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday advised that travellers avoid all nonessential travel to China, noting that there have been “thousands” of cases linked to the outbreak in China and five cases reported in the U.S. among travellers who had recently travelled to Wuhan.
As of Tuesday, 32 people had tested negative for the virus while 73 were still pending. A total of 110 people from 26 states have been investigated for the virus as of this week.