**UPDATE: 12/03/2020 @ 09:24 UTC – Cabo Verde Airlines has replied with a statement regarding flight suspensions to Washington. Please find its comment below.**
Whilst the initial focus of the coronavirus had airlines canceling flights to and from China, the travel scene has now shifted. Cabo Verde Airlines has become the first airline in the world to stop flights to the US because of coronavirus fears. The airline will stop flights between Sal and Washington D.C. today (8th March) through to the end of May.
Cabo Verde Airlines suspends Washington flights
Cabo Verde Airlines has become the world’s first airline to exercise caution over flying to the US. The airline, based in Cape Verde, has said that from today there would be no more flights between Sal in Cape Verde and Washington D.C.
The airline has only suspended this service temporarily. It foresees that interest will pique again towards the summer season and on 31st May 2020, the airline will fly the route once again. The reason for the suspension is due to low demand. Most of the aviation industry has been hit with dwindling numbers of passengers willing to travel, and it appears Cabo Verde Airlines is not exempt.
Who will this affect?
Cabo Verde Airlines currently offers flights between Sal and Washington D.C. three times a week. The airline operates the service on a Boeing 757-200 on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Interestingly, the airline has not canceled flights on its other American service. Cabo Verde Airlines will continue to operate its Boston route.
According to a statement obtained by The Points Guy, Cabo Verde Airline said:
“Cabo Verde Airlines considers that Sal Island and the archipelago remains a safe destination for travelers and the airline will continue to serve other destinations in accordance with market demand.”
Cabo Verde Airlines’ news is interesting, not only because it’s unprecedented. The airline is particularly small and so, when thinking about who this schedule alteration will impact, it’s the airline itself as well as its passengers.
Cabo Verde Airlines operates in 14 destinations on seven international and domestic routes. What’s more, it has just five aircraft: four 757-200s and one 757-300. It’s a small airline and it’s going to feel the pinch from those cancelations.
Washington D.C. is not the only destination that the airline has temporarily suspended. Heeding current travel advice, the airline has also suspended its flights to Italy. There it serves two airports: Rome and Milan.
Already, the coronavirus has caused cancelation to nearly 25% of Cabo Verde Airlines’ route network. When it seems so important for this airline to maintain a solid network, I can’t help but ask if it was necessary to cancel the Washington D.C. service?
Cases of coronavirus in the US
Whilst of course like other airlines, Cabo Verde is conscious about keeping its employees and passengers safe, canceling services to Washington D.C. was not a decision that it took predominantly for health reasons. The airline is responding to passenger demand that says its customers are not interested in flying to Washington D.C.
However, Cabo Verde Airlines is the only airline to have cut services to the US as a result of the coronavirus. Why haven’t other airlines seen the same response? Should they follow Cabo Verde’s lead?
Well, at the moment, the US has just 447 confirmed cases of coronavirus. Compared to the scale of Italy’s outbreak, the US does not compare. Cases in the United States count for just 7% of the diagnoses that Italy has had.
In a statement, the airline told Simple Flying:
“Cabo Verde Airlines temporarily suspends its flights to Washington (from 8th March to 31st May 2020) due to significantly reduced customer demand prompted by global health concerns related to COVID-19…Cabo Verde Airlines closely monitors those destinations where the impact of COVID-19 is most pronounced… Until now there are no cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Cape Verde. Cabo Verde Airlines considers that Sal Island and the archipelago remains a safe destination for travelers and the airline will continue to serve other destinations in accordance with market demand.”
Strangely, it doesn’t appear that Cabo Verde’s passenger demand is in direct correlation to cases of the coronavirus. France has more confirmed diagnoses of the coronavirus than the US and yet Cabo Verde Airlines still continues to fly there. We can assume that passenger demand is still high for this route.
For whatever reason, Cabo Verde Airlines certainly can’t be faulted for making a smart operational decision.
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments.