Delta and American airlines will cancel all flights between the U.S. and China as the confirmed death toll from the new coronavirus hits 213 and the number of confirmed cases reaches almost 10,000 worldwide, with over 100,000 more patients under medical observation.
American’s flights to China are all cancelled starting today, while Delta’s cancellations will be phased in over the next week. Delta will suspend all air travel to China on February 6 and not resume flights until April 30, according to a new announcement posted to the airline’s website.
“The last China-bound flight departing the U.S. will leave on Monday, Feb. 3 with the last return flight back to the U.S. departing China on Feb. 5,” Delta said in a statement. “The airline will continue to monitor the situation closely and may make additional adjustments as the situation continues to evolve.”
American announced that it would be cancelling all flights based on the U.S. government’s recommendations for travel to the region.
“Based on the U.S. Department of State’s recent increase of the China Travel Advisory to a Level 4 (Do Not Travel), American is suspending its operations to and from the Chinese mainland beginning today through March 27,” a spokesperson for American told Gizmodo via email.
“Our teams are contacting affected customers directly to accommodate their needs. We will continue to evaluate the schedule for March 28 and beyond and make any adjustments as necessary.”
Another U.S.-based carrier that still flies to China, United, announced drastic cutbacks in the number of flights this week but did not respond to Gizmodo’s email inquiries Friday afternoon.
The World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern” on Thursday, and at least five countries have seen human-to-human transmission in people who haven’t visited China, including Germany, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, and a case in Chicago.
The UK announced its first two cases of the virus on Friday, and Russia also announced two cases. Singapore, which has 13 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, announced that it would be banning Chinese nationals from entering the country. Anyone who’s travelled to China within the past 14 days won’t be allowed to enter. Mongolia also announced that it was banning travel from any Chinese nationals.
A handful of international airlines have announced today that they will stop flying to China, including Vietnam’s VietJet, Rwanda’s RwandAir, and Kenya Airways, according to a new report from CNBC. Even some Chinese airlines like Shanghai Airlines announced that they would cut back on a number of flights out of the country to places like Hungary.
There’s a wait-and-watch attitude in much of the world outside Asia, as no one outside of China has yet died from the disease and the spread has been relatively slow. But Delta and American’s decisions to cancel all flights for months is sure to spook people who weren’t quite sure how serious to take this outbreak.
Customers who had flights booked on Delta between now and April 30 are encouraged to log into Delta’s website and click “My Trips” where they can find out more information, including how they can request a refund.