By Chinedu Eze
Seven airlines have announced that they are halting or reducing flights to China as the country struggles to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
The airlines are Air France, British Airways, United Airlines, Lion Air, Finnair, Cathay Pacific and Urals Airlines
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.
AFP reported that British Airways, which flies daily from London’s Heathrow airport to Shanghai and Beijing, said it had suspended all its flights to and from mainland China.
Indonesia’s Lion Air Group, Southeast Asia’s biggest carrier by fleet size, is halting all its flights to and from China owing to the deadly coronavirus, a company spokesman said Wednesday.
Hong Kong-based carrier, Cathay Pacific, said it would progressively reduce capacity by 50 per cent or more on its routes to mainland China from Thursday through to the end of March, adding that the reduction concerns both Cathay Pacific and its Cathay Dragon subsidiary.
Also, Finnair said that the suspension of group travel from China was leading it to suspend some flights beginning February 5 through most of March.
US carrier United Airlines said it would trim its service 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.
Russia’s Urals Airlines, which had already suspended flights to several destinations in China, also announced on Wednesday that it was cutting some services to Europe popular with Chinese tourists, including Paris and Rome, because of the outbreak.
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.