Airlines cancel flights to China

Airlines worldwide are suspending flights to China amid a deadly coronavirus outbreak.

British Airways this morning suspended all direct flights to and from mainland China as concerns grew about the outbreak of the virus.

Air Canada, Finnair, Jetstar Asia, Lion Air, Cathay Pacific and United are among those who have cut services to mainland China.

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The move comes after the UK government warned against all but essential travel to the country, where at least 132 people have been killed by the rapidly spreading disease.

BA’s website shows no direct flights to mainland China available in January or February. The UK’s flag carrier usually operates daily flights from Heathrow Airport to Shanghai and Beijing.

“We apologise to customers for the inconvenience, but the safety of our customers and crew is always our priority,” the airline in a statement on Wednesday. “Customers due to travel to or from China in the coming days can find more information on BA.com.”

Jetstar Asia, a Singapore-based no-frills carrier, has suspended its services to the Chinese cities of Hefei, Guiyang and Xuzhou until 31 March 2020. The last flights to these cities will operate tomorrow, 30 January.

Indonesia’s Lion Air and South Korea’s Air Seoul have also cut all services to mainland China.

American carrier United, which operates around 33 flights a week from the US to China, said it is cancelling dozens of China flights due to a drop in demand. Cancellations start from 1 February.

Air Canada and Finnair are also suspending select services to China, while Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong’s flag carrier, has suspended around 50 per cent of services to the mainland.

Air France has cancelled its three-times-weekly flight from Paris CDG to Wuhan, the city at the centre of the scare.

Most carriers who are still flying to China have offered travellers the chance to change their flights free of charge.

Meanwhile, several major cruise lines including Royal Caribbean and MSC Cruises have cancelled sailings from China this week.

MSC Cruises cancelled the MSC Splendida voyage, which was due to leave Shanghai on 28 January for a four-day tour of Japan. Guests can choose either a refund or an alternative sailing.

“At the time of writing, MSC Splendida is planned to remain in port for the duration of the cruise from 28 January until 1 February,” a spokesperson told The Independent.

“We will continue to closely monitor the public health and safety situation in China and are consulting with international and local health authorities, as well as the Ministry of Transport of the People’s Republic of China, and strictly follow their advice and recommendations.”

In addition, Royal Caribbean has cancelled two Spectrum of the Seas sailings, which were due to leave Shanghai on 27 and 31 January.

Tour operator Abercrombie & Kent, which runs trips to destinations across China, said it was “monitoring this situation closely”.

Kerry Golds, managing director of A&K UK said: “Given this is the low travel season for inbound travel to China we are hopeful that the issue can be can resolved before the spring travel season begins.

“For clients with immediate departures to China we’re offering them the opportunity to postpone, cancel or rebook to a new destination free of charge. For guests departing in the coming months we will discuss options with them as the situation evolves.”

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