Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 19 September 2020

Coronavirus: the airlines and countries restricting travel to China

About 10,000 flights were cancelled between January 23 to 28 as authorities grapple with the outbreak

Dozens of airlines from Asia, Europe, and the Middle East suspended flights to China as more countries restricted the entry of travellers from the country to limit the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

About 10,000 scheduled flights within, to and from mainland China have been cancelled since the outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan until January 28, according to a report from travel research company Cirium.

"While the industry is playing its part to help prevent the spread of the virus, the outbreak will inevitably cause significant disruption of schedules and travel patterns in the short and medium term," said Peter Morris, chief economist at Ascend by Cirium.

Graphic by The National 
Graphic by The National 

Death toll from the coronavirus rose to 361 in China, surpassing the 349 fatalities in the country from the Sars outbreak in 2002 and 2003, with confirmed cases in the country now at 17,205. Countries are banning the entry of visitors with a recent travel history to China and suspending flights, increasingly isolating the country with a population of more than 1.3 billion people.

The World Health Organisation has declared the coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern, but added that trade and travel restrictions are not necessary.

However, constraints on travelling to and from China have widened amid fear of the virus spreading, with countries barring entry and halting flights, contrary to the WHO advice.

The Philippines, US, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand and Vietnam are among the countries that have denied entry to foreign nationals who have recently been to China. Qatar Airways became the first Middle East airline to stop flights to China on Saturday and was later followed by Oman Air, Saudi Arabian Airlines and UAE airlines.

The General Civil Aviation Authority said on Monday it was suspending all flights from China, with the exception of the country's capital, Beijing, which will remain unaffected.

The GCAA said the suspension would come into force on February 5 until further notice, with the decision part of the UAE's precautionary measures to confront the outbreak.

Here is a list of other countries and airlines that have placed travel limitations for China:

Australia

Australia will deny entry to anyone arriving from mainland China, except for its citizens, residents or their family members and crew. It has also warned travellers against going to China.

Australia’s largest airline Qantas Airways will suspend services to China from February 9, according to Bloomberg.

Canada

Canada advised citizens to avoid non-essential travel to China. Air Canada has halted flights to Beijing and Shanghai. The suspension is expected to last until February 29.

Egypt

Egypt Air suspended flights to China "until the situation stabilises", according to its website. The airline connects to Hangzhou, Beijing and Guangzhou. Hangzhou flights have been suspended since February 1 and Beijing and Guangzhou will be put on hold from February 4.

Finland

Finnair will cancel all flights to and from mainland China between February 6 and February 29

France

France urged citizens not to travel to China. Air France will stay out of China until February 9.

Germany

Lufthansa suspended services to China until February 9.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong has barred entry to residents of China’s Hubei province, where the outbreak is centred. Cathay Pacific will cut the capacity of its flights to China by 50 per cent or more until the end of March.

Indonesia

Indonesia is temporarily banning flights to and from China from February 3 and will not allow those who have been there in recent weeks to enter or transit. The government has suspended free visa and visa-on-arrival services for Chinese citizens living in the mainland and called on Indonesians to temporarily stop travelling there. Indonesia has five domestic airlines flying to China: PT Garuda Indonesia, PT Citilink Indonesia, PT Lion Mentari Airlines, PT Sriwijaya Air and PT Batik Air Indonesia. The temporary flight ban applies to foreign airlines flying from China to Indonesia, including for transit.

India

India said Chinese passport holders and those living in China, who have electronic visas to India, will not be allowed to enter. Air India and IndiGo have suspended flights between some Indian cities and China.

Italy

Italy has suspended all flights from China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan until April 28.

Japan

Japan has urged its citizens not to travel to China and barred entry to people with symptoms of the coronavirus.

Kenya

Kenya Airways suspended flights to and from Guangzhou until further notice.

A traveller arriving from Beijing wears a protective mask at Schiphol Airport, the Netherlands. The World Health Organisation has declared the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency. EPA
A traveller arriving from Beijing wears a protective mask at Schiphol Airport, the Netherlands. The World Health Organisation has declared the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency. EPA

Mongolia

Mongolia has closed its border with China until March 2.

Morocco

Royal Air Maroc has suspended direct flights to China until February 29.

Myanmar

Myanmar said it will suspend the issuance of visas-on-arrival for travellers from China.

New Zealand

New Zealand will deny entry to foreigners travelling from China. The ban, effective from February 3, covers anyone who is travelling from or has transited through China, and will last up to 14 days. It has also raised its travel advice about all of mainland China to “do not travel” – the highest level. Air New Zealand will cut its Shanghai service from daily to four times a week from February 18 until March 31

Netherlands

KLM suspended direct flights to some Chinese cities and reduced the number of weekly flights to Shanghai.

North Korea

North Korea shut its borders to visitors from China on January 22.

A Pakistani student wearing protective facemask hugs a relative upon his arrival with other students from China at the Islamabad International Airport in Islamabad on February 3. Pakistan resumed flight operations with China, days after it had suspended all direct flights. AFP
A Pakistani student wearing protective facemask hugs a relative upon his arrival with other students from China at the Islamabad International Airport in Islamabad on February 3. Pakistan resumed flight operations with China, days after it had suspended all direct flights. AFP

Oman

Oman’s aviation authority suspended all its flights to China.

Pakistan

Pakistan stopped flights to Wuhan and Hubei, but reopened other routes in mainland China on February 3. It delayed opening its northern border with China, while Karachi Port Trust, operator of the nation’s largest port, asked immigration authorities not to allow crew on foreign vessels to disembark.

Philippines

The Philippines widened a travel ban previously imposed on visitors from Hubei province to all of China, including Hong Kong and Macau, while prohibiting Filipinos from travelling to those areas.

Qatar

Qatar Airways is suspending flights to China starting from February 3 until further notice.

A Singapore Airlines employee at LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal in the US. The United States has declared a public health emergency with foreign nationals who have been in China in the last two weeks and are not immediate family members of US citizens or permanent residents barred from entering. Getty Images/AFP
A Singapore Airlines employee at LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal in the US. The United States has declared a public health emergency with foreign nationals who have been in China in the last two weeks and are not immediate family members of US citizens or permanent residents barred from entering. Getty Images/AFP

Russia

Russia has suspended visa-free tourist travel to China and temporarily blocked Chinese citizens from reaching Russia over the Mongolian border. It will also stop processing documents for Chinese nationals to enter Russia for jobs, along with permits to hire workers from China. Visa-free travel was part of an agreement the two nations worked out in 2018.

Rwanda

Rwand Air has halted flights to and from China and will review the decision this month.

Singapore

Singapore has blocked entry and transit of people who have travelled to mainland China in the previous 14 days. The visas of Chinese citizens to visit Singapore have been suspended, including those already issued.

Singapore Airlines and Silk Air said they would reduce their frequency of service to mainland China in February due to the entry restrictions issued by the local authorities.

People wear medical masks at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York out of concern over the coronavirus. Getty Images/AFP
People wear medical masks at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York out of concern over the coronavirus. Getty Images/AFP

South Korea

From February 4, South Korea will temporarily ban foreigners who have visited or stayed in Hubei within 14 days of entering. Seoul will also suspend its no-visa favour for Chinese tourists to Jeju Island for now. South Korea is also suspending tourism to China. Korean Air is stopping flights to Wuhan until February 22 and will reduce services on other mainland China routes. Air Seoul suspended flights indefinitely between Incheon and the Chinese cities of Zhangjiajie and Linyi.

Spain

Iberia Airways suspended its flight to Shanghai, the only route it operates to China, through February.

Taiwan

Taiwan imposed an entry ban to residents of Hubei as well as those from the southern Guangdong province. It won’t rule out extending the ban to more Chinese provinces if necessary. Mandarin Airlines suspended flights from Taiwan to Wuhan until the end of February.

Tanzania

Air Tanzania postponed its maiden February flights to China from Dar es Salaam.

Turkey

Turkish Airlines suspended flights to Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Xi’an until February 9.

UK

British Airways halted daily routes to Beijing and Shanghai. Virgin Atlantic ceased flights to Shanghai for 14 days from February 1

US

The US is temporarily barring entry to foreign nationals who have visited China and pose a risk of spreading the illness, unless they are immediate relatives of US citizens or permanent residents. Flights from China are now funnelled through seven US airports. The State Department issued its highest level do-not-travel advisory for China. Delta Air Lines and American Airlines have suspended all flights to China to the end of April. United Airlines will suspend services to Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu from February 6.

Updated: February 3, 2020 06:43 PM

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