Airlines are increasingly taking precautions with the Wuhan coronavirus. First we saw airlines introduce travel waivers for flights to Wuhan, then we saw them introduce travel waivers for all flights to China, then we saw some airlines reduce capacity to China, and now one airline is taking it much further. I suspect other airlines will follow.
Governments now advise against all but essential travel to China
Yesterday the Centers For Disease Control and the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, among other authorities, advised against all but essential travel to China, given the development of the Wuhan coronavirus. This is a pretty serious warning.
British Airways suspends all flights to mainland China
With immediate effect, British Airways has canceled all flights to mainland China through the end of February 2020.
While we’ve already seen airlines reduce service to China in the past few days (just yesterday United updated their schedule to reflect reduced service to Beijing, Hong Kong, and Shanghai over the next week), a major international airline cutting service to mainland China for an entire month is drastic. I suspect British Airways is only the first of many airlines to do so.
The British Airways planes currently enroute to Beijing and Shanghai will operate their return flights, and that will be the end of mainland China flying for British Airways for now:
- Those crews operating flights to Beijing and Shanghai will turn right around as passengers (talk about a long day!)
- Those British Airways crews based in Beijing and Shanghai who are currently in London will have arrangements made to get them back home to China
This is a significant move on British Airways’ part. It’s one thing to reduce capacity due to a lack of demand, but it’s a whole different story to cancel service for an entire month for the safety of crews.
Not to be too cynical, but I do think this drastic decision may go beyond just safety, though that’s a convenient reason to give:
- Many airlines bleed money on China flights in winter, and this current situation only makes it worse
- British Airways is definitely erring on the side of caution with the crew safety argument, though at the same time I’m sure this is the right move financially as well
What do you make of British Airways- decision to suspend Beijing & Shanghai flights, and do you think some/most other airlines will follow their lead?