Singapore and SilkAir cut China flights over coronavirus

posted on 31st January 2020 by William Hayes
Singapore and SilkAir cut China flights over coronavirus

Singapore Airlines (SIA) and its subsidiary regional airline SilkAir have axed numerous February routes to mainland China, amid concerns over the rampant spread of the new coronavirus.

Among the services expected to be cut are a number of flights to Beijing, Shanghai Pudong and Guangzhou, while SilkAir will cut services to all four Chinese cities it flies to: Chongqing, Chengdu, Xiamen and Shenzhen.

Separately, SIA’s low-cost subsidiary Scoot announced it will be suspending flights to 11 points on its Chinese network from early February until the end of March. This was due to “weak demand and operational constraints” arising from the coronavirus outbreak in China, Scoot states.

The destinations affected include Harbin, Hangzhou, Shenyang, Xian, Nanning, Zhengzhou, Ningbo, Jinan, Nanchang, Wuxi, as well as Changsha.

Scoot’s flights to Wuhan, which is the epicentre of the outbreak, remains cancelled until 28 March.

The carrier has also reduced frequencies to eight other Chinese cities, including Guangzhou, Kunming, Nanjing, Tianjin as well as Macau.

SIA also said it will be doing away with crew layovers in Beijing and Shanghai, which will now be operated as turnaround flights. “This is a precautionary measure for the safety of our crew,” the airline tells FlightGlobal.

SIA Group’s decision to cut capacity follows similar moves by other carriers in and around the region. Hong Kong-based carriers like the Cathay Pacific group and Hong Kong Airlines have jointly halved capacity into Mainland China.

Air New Zealand also announced that it would be reducing frequencies on its Auckland-Shanghai flights from daily to four times weekly, from 18 February to end March.

Indonesia’s Lion Air Group, as well as Vietnam’s VietJet, will also be cancelling all flights to China from 1 February. Air Astana is suspending all flights to Beijing and Urumqi from 3 February.

European carriers such as British Airways, Lufthansa and Finnair have all scrapped service into China as well. US majors American Airlines, Delta Air LInes and United Airlines have all cut back their capacity, while Air Canada has pulled its mainland China flights altogether.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on 30 January declared the coronavirus outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

WHO says there have been 170 deaths so far from outbreak – which has now has more than 7,800 confirmed cases and more than 12,000 suspected cases.