Coronavirus: 10,000 Flights Cancelled In 6 Days


Airlines across the globe have canceled or reduced flights to China as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Major European airlines like British Airways and Lufthansa led the way in terms of flight suspension to mainland China. In total, nearly 10,000 flights from, to, and within China have been canceled since January 23rd.

Lufthansa plane sunset getty images
Lufthansa was one of the airlines that first announced flight suspensions to China. Photo: Getty Images

Coronavirus outbreak leads to thousands of flight cancellations

Data from Cirium indicates that nearly 10,000 flights have been canceled since January 23rd through January 28th. This includes flights to and from mainland China in addition to flights operating within China.

British Airways has temporarily suspended all flights to mainland China. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

The data gets even more staggering on a regional level. Between January 23rd and January 28th, 92% of scheduled flights in and out of Wuhan were canceled. In total, out of 2,606 scheduled flights to and from Wuhan, 2,406 did not fly. This is not counting the rescue flights which are unscheduled charters for evacuating specific citizens.


The data was a little better for China as a whole. Between January 23rd and 28th, 10.8% of scheduled flights to and from China did not fly. Or, in raw numbers, only 9,807 out of 90,607 flights did not take off.

The impact on Chinese airlines

Unsurprisingly, coronavirus flight cancellations have hit Chinese airlines the hardest. China Eastern canceled 1,591 flights across its domestic and international network. 1,529 of those were domestic services and 62 were international.

China Eastern
China Eastern saw 1,591 of its flights affected as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Just after China Eastern comes China Southern, but only by a hair. China Southern still canceled 1,510 flights. 1,425 of those were domestic while 85 were international flights. In fact, a China Southern Airbus A319 recently had to turn back from Myanmar due to concerns about an infected passenger. Moreover, Wuhan is an important city for China Southern with some high profile international routes to places like New York, Rome, San Francisco, and London. Currently, China Southern expects to resume major international service from Wuhan in March.

China Southern
China Southern also saw significant operational disruption as a result of this outbreak. Photo: Jay Singh – Simple Flying

Other highly affected airlines include Xiamen Airlines with 837 canceled services.

Airports did not leave unscathed

Domestic services have also taken some severe hits. While Wuhan was hit the hardest, Beijing’s Capital Airport saw about 10% of its flights canceled – 920 out of 9,113 flights. Meanwhile, Guangzhou also saw about 10% of scheduled flights canceled – 829 out of 8,236.

Wuhan Coronavirus
Concern over the spread of the coronavirus is leading to a reduction in air services to and from China. Photo: Getty Images


Simple Flying has closely monitored flight cancellations as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. You can find all the information at this post. Ultimately, the coronavirus has hugely disrupted one of the largest and most important air markets in the world. Airlines will be looking toward governments and health agencies around the world for guidance when it comes to restoring services to China. For now, however, governments are discouraging travel to China. And, flying into China is getting harder with flight cancellations.


Did you have plans to fly to China? Were your flights canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak? Let us know in the comments!


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Virginia Wilson

I am scheduled to return to Sydney with china Eastern from rome via shanghai on 12 Feb.All departures from Rome to China from 31 Jan to 29 April cancelled. Australia today announced that Austalian citizens returning or transitting through mainland China will need to self quarantine for 14 days. I now need to book an alternative flight and claim a tefund.

M. Angst

We have booked tickets with China Southern Airlines from London to SanYa (Feb. 27), from SanYa to WuHan (Mar. 7) and from WuHan back to London (Mar. 13) to join a wedding online over the British webpage of CSA. We were told to communicate via email for cancelation. No response since one week. For cancelation via web page there is a form that has to be filled in with the comment “We only process refund application for bookings made from this site”. However, when trying to send this form there comes a notice, that sending is not possible. Also on the home page there is no information about the coronavirus situation and how things are handled by CSA.
Does anyone know how to cancel flights and get refund with CSA?


Currently scheduled to fly LHR – BKK via Shanghai on China Eastern, end of Feb. Gatwick flights all cancelled, now moved to the LHR flight. Little unsure if that will still go ahead … fingers crossed.


Booked, Dec. 2019, 2x return flights Vancouver-Shanghai-Chiang Mai leaving Feb 18 through
I decided to cancel, yesterday Feb.4 2020 because of risk of virus. Exploretrip is asking a $300 fee for each ticket (my cost $650 each) , then they tried with a second offer of $200 per ticket. I refused to cancel for the moment. Tried to reach the airline China Eastern, impossible by phone as some telephone numbers are cancelled or not available at the moment. No info on China Eastern website about ticket refund because of virus on flights from Canada to China.
I will wait a few days and change my flight departing in 2-3 months if possible with no fee.
DO NOT book flights with Exploretrip, very bad customer service and not reliable if chanhes needed.
P.S. A friend cancelled the same trip, with layover in Beijing, at Air China with no fee applied for cancellation.

Barry Stephenson

We have flights via ghanzou to Bangkok booked for 6th april on china southern. There guidance is poor to say the least

Rodger Grant

My flight to Bangkok on Cathay Pacific for 02/15 was cancelled