British Airways has suspended all flights to mainland China until the end of the week as international concern grows over the Coronavirus outbreak. Earlier in the week, the carrier began to offer flight changes and refunds to China-bound passengers.
The impact of the Coronavirus on aviation has slowly been growing as more people become infected with the potentially deadly disease. We’ve already seen a mass screening of passengers from China implemented, in addition to some carriers re-jigging their schedules. Now, following government advice, British Airways has temporarily suspended flights to the country while the situation is fully assessed.
What’s the latest?
The United Kingdom’s government has today updated its advice for British nationals traveling to China. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has now advised against all but essential travel to most parts of mainland China. The only exception is to the province of Hubei where the outbreak originated.
Commenting on the updated advice, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “Due to the increasing travel restrictions and the public health situation, we now advise against all but essential travel to China.”
It is this advice from the government which has prompted the latest action to be taken by British Airways.
What is British Airways doing?
British Airways has suspended all flights to the Chinese mainland until Friday the 31st of January. This is in response to the Government’s advice against traveling to China unless absolutely necessary. The cancellations will affect flights to Nanjing, Shanghai, and Beijing. However, Hong Kong remains unaffected.
British Airways has chosen to take action in order to assess the ongoing Coronavirus situation in China. It is possible that flights will resume on Friday. However, it is also a possibility that the British flag carrier will continue its suspension following government advice.
A British Airways spokesperson told Simple Flying:
We have suspended all flights to and from mainland China with immediate effect following advice from the Foreign Office against all but essential travel. 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
The suspension comes at a time when British Airways is actively trying to increase its ties in China. The carrier recently became the first international airline to make the move to Beijing’s new Daxing Airport.
It also recently commenced a new joint venture with Chinese carrier China Southern. This was intended to bring the two carriers closer together with regards to schedules and frequent flier schemes.
Is the flight suspension an overreaction, or just what is needed? Were you due to fly with British Airways to China this week? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.