Cathay Pacific today announced it will be offering free ticket alterations and cancellations on all flights to and from mainland China. The move comes as Chinese authorities step up their efforts to contain the spread of Wuhan coronavirus.
The outbreak of a new strain of coronavirus in China’s Hubei Province appears to have picked up speed significantly over the past couple of days. The Chinese authorities have now begun quarantining a number of cities where cases of the new coronavirus strain have cropped up.
Reports suggest that there have been more than 800 confirmed cases in China so far, as well as suspected cases in a number of other countries neighboring China.
Cathay Pacific on the front foot
While the Chinese authorities have already implemented drastic measures to combat the spread of Wuhan coronavirus, Cathay Pacific has become one of the first airlines to offer free flight alterations and refunds to its customers in these unusual circumstances.
Cathay Pacific’s decision comes after the Chinese government asked all airlines to make refunds and flight alterations available to passengers on Thursday evening.
The other airlines which have so far confirmed they will be offering ticket refunds are AirAsia, Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Hainan Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines.
Cathay Dragon had already announced on Thursday that it would be suspending all flights to and from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, as of today.
Cathay Pacific has made refunds and free route changes available for all tickets involving travel in mainland China booked between 21 January and the end of February.
The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak has come at a very bad time, as Chinese people prepare to travel around the country to visit relatives for the Chinese New Year celebrations.
Bad news for Cathay Pacific
While the fee waiver has been implemented at the request of the Chinese government, and other carriers have also done the same, the policy will come as another blow to Cathay Pacific.
As news of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak has spread over the past week, investors have become spooked.
As reported by the South China Morning Post, Cathay Pacific’s shares have fallen by 8 percent. Meanwhile, Air China has been even more badly affected, suffering a 13.8 percent drop in share value.
Cathay Pacific has already suffered a hit in passenger numbers from mainland China as a result of the Hong Kong protests. Currently, it flies to 23 different airports in Mainland China.
While the airline was caught up in the negative publicity of the Hong Kong situation, it likely will not have to reward as many refunds as a result of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak as its mainland competitors.
Simple Flying has reached out to Cathay Pacific for comment on the current situation and will update this article when we receive more information.