Around the world, airlines are suspending their flights to mainland China because of the coronavirus epidemic ravaging the country. The World Health Organization’s has declared the outbreak a global health emergency. The U.S. State Department has recommended that Americans avoid traveling to China and White House officials have mentioned that they are considering a China travel ban.
The coronavirus is a potentially fatal respiratory disease. The disease first emerged in Wuhan, China in early December. The outbreak has since spread across China and appeared in some other countries, including the United States, Japan, and India. As of the end of last week, the outbreak had infected nearly 10,000 people, most of them in China. To date, more than 200 of the infected have died. All of the deaths have been in China.
Fears over the spread of the disease has forced both U.S. and global carriers to amend their schedules as demand for China travel declines. Delta, American, and United have all announced they will temporarily cancel all of their mainland China flights. United was the first domestic carrier to adjust its China flights. Delta and American announced their initial schedule changes a day later. All three domestic airlines have already issued flight waivers for travelers, allowing them to postpone or cancel plans without the usual penalty.
Delta announced that it would suspend its U.S.-China flights from Feb. 6 through April 30. Delta says affected customers can request a refund, rebook their flight after the suspension lifts or speak with an agent for other options. Delta usually operates 42 flights a week between its U.S. hubs and China.
United is suspending operations between its U.S. hub and three mainland China cities from Feb. 6 until March 28. United is also suspending operations to Hong Kong from Feb. 8 to Feb. 20 because of a drop in demand.