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Airlines temporarily suspend flights to China

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British Airways is suspending all direct flights to and from mainland China due to the Wuhan Coronavirus, making it one of the biggest international carriers to do so so far. The suspension comes after Britain warned against all but essential travel to the China on Tuesday.

BA.com, the airline’s website, shows no direct flights to China are available through February.

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

Thai Airways is spray-disinfecting passenger cabins and cockpits on all flights returning from China and high-risk destinations.

“Because we have in-flight entertainment, the LCD screens are being touched all the time, so we deep cleanse every flight before departure.”

A video from Thai Airways showing staff in hazmat suits spraying down a cabin garnered praise on social media for carrier’s effort, although some were alarmed by it. South Korean budget carrier Air Seoul also announced it’s suspending all flights to China due to travellers’ concerns. United Airlines too is suspending 24 US flights to Beijing; Hong Kong and Shanghai until February 8.

Low-cost airline Thai Lion Air announced yesterday it has suspended all flights between Thailand and Chengdu in southern China until February 10. Other carriers, including Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific are allowing crew to wear masks on China flights. While American Airlines provides hand sanitiser wipes for flight attendants to use on all departures to China.

Meanwhile, passengers on some airlines still flying to and from China will have to make do without hot meals, blankets and newspapers.

Taiwan’s China Airlines said it’s encouraging passengers to bring their own beverage bottles and would limit reusable items by replacing them with disposables. The airline and its regional arm Mandarin Airlines stopped serving hot meals from Monday and replaced tablecloths and napkins with paper towels on Hong Kong flights. They’ve stopped providing blankets, pillows, towels, magazines and newspapers. Beverages and disposable headphones are supplied only on request.

“The seat back pocket will only contain the aircraft safety card and sick bag,” said Tigerair Taiwan, also a member of China Airline group, adding that duty-free sales will not be available.

Thailand, the top destination for Chinese holidaymakers, had 11 million Chinese visitors last year. But with 14 coronavirus cases, it is the second-worst hit country outside of China. The economic hit on Thai tourism is expected to be high.

Source: Reuters

 

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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