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AFTA MEMBER ALERT - Airline advice on suspensions and reduced services into China

Following the Member Alert issued yesterday regarding the Coronavirus, we have further information now available.

At this point, it's important to remain calm and offer reassurance to your staff, in particular, those in retail settings should not feel that they are in a position of high risk beyond the general risk of contracting the virus. A letter from the Australian Chief Medical Officer (below) which outlines the situation and we suggest circulating the notice among your staff.

Chief Medical Officer - Letter to industry coronavirus

It is important also to note that the risk of infection remains very low as it requires person to person contact and is generally passed via saliva, so it is extremely unlikely that the virus can be carried via touch or through the air-conditioning.

As the continued risk assessment remains in place by the Australian Government, we will continue to keep you as informed as possible should the situation change or vary.
Airlines suspending or reducing flights to China

Several international airlines have announced plans to suspend or reduce flights to and from mainland China yesterday – this is not specifically related to services outbound Australia.

Update as of 1pm 31st January 2020.

  • Air Canada: Suspended all flights to Beijing and Shanghai from 30 January until 29 February. Air Canada previously operated 33 flights per week.

  • Air India: Suspending Delhi-Shanghai flights, which operate six times a week, from 31 January until February 14.

  • American Airlines: Cancelled flights between Los Angeles and mainland China from 7 February to 26 March.

  • Asiana Airlines: Will temporarily suspend flights to the Chinese cities of Guilin, Changsha and Haikou starting next month.

  • British Airways: Suspended all flights to and from Beijing and Shanghai with immediate effect from the UK until 31 January and has suspended all bookings until 29 February citing the travel advice of the British foreign office.

  • Cathay Pacific Group: Has announced plans to progressively reduce flights to and from mainland China by 50 per cent or more from today until the end of March. Cathay Pacific Group previously operated 480 flights per week to/from mainland China.

  • Delta Airlines: Has announced plans to halve flights between the US and mainland China from 42 flights per week to approximately 21 flights with effect from 6 February to 30 April.

  • Eva Air: Announced a partial cancellation of flights to and from mainland China for two weeks starting on February 2. Also, the airline has stopped providing towels, magazines, table cloths, and is limiting the use of blankets and pillows on its flights.

  • Finnair: Has cancelled its three weekly flights to Beijing and two weekly flights to Nanjing through end-March.

  • Jetstar Asia: Has suspended flights from Singapore to Hefei, Guiyang and Xuzhou from 31 Jan to 31 March. Jetstar has offered optional cancellation/rebooking after 31 March for all Jetstar passengers with flights to, from or via mainland China between 24 Jan and 31 March.

  • Korean Air: Considering grounding some of its flights to mainland China as passenger demand drops. Korean Air had operated four flights a week to the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, before suspending them on Jan. 23.

  • Qantas Airlines: Flights to and from mainland China remain unchanged at this point. It may be the case that services are altered or adjusted, but at this point, services are expected to continue.

  • Lion Air Group and Batik Air: Announced the suspension of all flights to China during the month of February. Lion Air had more than 50 flights per week to China. Batik Air had 10 flights per week.

  • Lufthansa and its Swiss and Austrian subsidiaries: All flights to mainland China would be suspended until at least 8 February 2020.

  • Singapore Airlines: Flights to and from mainland China remain unchanged at this point. It may be the case that services are altered or adjusted, but at this point, services are expected to continue.

  • United Airlines: Has cancelled 24 return flights between 1 to 8 Feb to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong (reduced from 12 flights to 8-9 flights per day) and said more cancellations may follow.

Also, Kazakhstan has announced on 29 January plans to suspend all flights, train and bus traffic and to halt issuing visas to Chinese nationals. Before the Wednesday's suspension, there were 24 flights a week from Kazakhstan to China, including a daily flight to Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang.

Again, if you have any questions or concerns, the AFTA team remain on alert to assist as best we are able at this time.