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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Asian tourists cancelling flights, staying home



PHOTO: Flights are being cancelled across the region - File photo

Scores of flights to Asian destinations are being cancelled after South Korea advised its citizens to delay trips to countries where the COVID-19 coronavirus has been found. Especially hard-hit are  Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan.

South Korea remains largely free of the virus, though one of its citizens tested positive for the virus after returning from Thailand. Korean media report that the virus is rampant in North Korea, which shares a “porous” border with China.

Thai Airways this week reported a 30% drop in its bookings for return flights between Bangkok and Seoul, and said it’s dropping four weekly flights as a result, from February 26 until March 28. Twenty-one Thai Airlines flights a week on that route will remain on schedule.

Thai says it might cancel some flights to Japan because people there are showing reluctance to visit Thailand. Korean carriers Eastar Jet, Jeju Air, Asiana Airlines and Korean Air have also reduced flights to Thailand.

The general manager of Bangkok’s  Suvarnabhumi International Airport says Thailand’s premier air hub is seeing far fewer tourists because of the virus outbreak.

“We’re getting 140,000 people a day this month, 60,000 fewer than last year, which represents a 30% decrease.”

“People in China, South Korea and Japan have begun postponing plans to travel elsewhere in Asia, especially in Japan now, where a death from the virus has caused alarm.”

He says if the crisis persists into April, the airport expects passenger volume will grow by just 3%, far less than the annual average before the outbreak.

“Airports of Thailand says that because of the virus, airlines cancelled 2,762 flights through Suvarnabhumi Airport from January 24 to February 13, which averages out to 132 flights a day.”

SOURCE: The Nation


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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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