China Southern Airlines is slashing flights to a wide range of destinations throughout February and March 2020. The service cutbacks are in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
China Southern is Asia’s largest airline and normally has over 2,000 flights a day to some 200 destinations.
Chinese airlines bear economic brunt of virus outbreak
Information published yesterday in indicates China Southern Airlines is making significant cuts. Flights to some destinations are being suspended while flights to other destinations are being scaled back in frequency.
The number of flights China Southern Airlines is either suspending or scaling back is extensive. They can be viewed in full at Routesonline. There are several service suspensions from Urumqi. The majority of these suspensions will impact on South and Central Asian destinations.
Suspensions and service reductions to many destinations
By way of example, has suspended its thrice–weekly service between Urumqi and Bangkok between 12 February 2020 and 28 March 2020. The airline has suspended its four times a week service between Urumqi and Dubai between 2 February 2020 and 28 March 2020. The twice–weekly China Southern service between Urumqi and Baku is also suspended over these dates.
There are reductions in frequencies for services between Urumqi and Bishkek and Urumqi and Islamabad.
But it is China Southern’s hub at Guangzhou that is going to feel the pinch from service suspensions and cutbacks. Throughout much of February and March 2020, flights from Guangzhou to Adelaide, , Frankfurt, Male, Nairobi, Melbourne, and Perth have been suspended.
It should be noted that China Southern flies to some of these destinations more than once daily. Melbourne is an example. The airline may have canceled one series of flights to a destination but other flights to the same destination are still operating.
This is potentially confusing as it is really a service reduction, but China Southern isn’t listing them as so.
Examples of service reductions throughout February and March include China Southern’s thrice–daily service between and Sydney dropping to once a day. Flights between Shenzhen and Sydney are suspended.
Flights between Guangzhou and Dubai will drop to four times a week by mid-February. Flights between Guangzhou and New York will drop to three times a week by mid-February.
The fifth freedom flight between Vancouver and Mexico City will decrease to five times a week.
Airlines expected to bounce back from the outbreak
Incidents like the have been described as an economic sledgehammer for airlines. The SARS outbreak in 2003 was said to have caused an 8% drop in revenue per passenger kilometer across Asian airlines in 2003. SARS remains a common benchmark against which the current virus is being measured.
The Avian Flu outbreak in 2005 saw revenue per passenger kilometer decrease 2% across Asian airlines in that year.
More recently, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome outbreak in 2015 saw a 12% drop in revenue per passenger kilometer in South Korea that year.
These viral outbreaks generally lead to short sharp economic shock for airlines like China Southern. But there is also plenty of evidence that airlines . Previous outbreaks suggest it is not the mortality rate that adversely impacts on an airline’s bottom line, rather the size of the infected population.
While the 2005 Avian flu outbreak infected only 116 people, its mortality rate was 52%. But it didn’t spread. It’s argued because of that, the economic impact on regional airlines was minimized.
In contrast, coronavirus is killing relatively few people. The concern is the . That’s why China is imposing lockdowns and quarantines. That’s why countries are closing their borders to non-citizens who’ve recently been to mainland China. That’s why airlines like China Southern are scaling back and reducing services.
The schedule information in this article was originally published by Routesonline.