As the coronavirus outbreak continues and new cases are reported daily, more airlines continue to re-examine their flight schedules due to falling demand. The latest airline to revise its operations in recent days is Israeli airline El Al. The carrier is reducing its Bangkok and Hong Kong service and extending its Beijing suspension.
“We are continually monitoring the reports from China. We hope that the recent cautious optimism as reported in the global media will indeed continue in the coming days. Nevertheless, we at EL AL have decided to make commercial adjustments to the schedule in the Far East and increase frequencies to North America and Europe with a focus on the upcoming Passover period.” -Gonen Usishkin, CEO of EL AL
The latest updates for El Al flights to Asia
- Beijing – service to the Chinese capital was originally suspended until March 25,2020. However, it has now been extended to April 24, 2020.
- Hong Kong – flights to the city will be suspended until March 20, 2020. Cancellation and change fees are being waived.
- Bangkok – Flights to the Thai capital will continue, but at a reduced frequency, going from twice daily to once per day.
- Tokyo – In preparing for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the airline will continue with the launch of its first Japanese route on March 11, 2020 as originally planned.
The airline adds that it will continue to monitor the situation and reinstate flights ahead of the scheduled dates if conditions improve.
Coronavirus and its impact on commercial air travel
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) recently reported that the cost of the coronavirus outbreak to worldwide airline revenue could top US$5bn.
In fact, the tourism impacts on Chinese travel might hit markets in Japan and Thailand the hardest. In fact, more than a billion dollars in revenue is estimated to be at risk in both countries. Meanwhile, Chinese airlines are rushing to refinance their fleets in order to secure liquidity for their businesses during this difficult time.
On Thursday, Vietnam Airlines said it was losing as much as 250 billion dong (US$10.8 million) in revenue every week as a result of flight suspensions. At the end of January, Vietnam’s Civil Aviation Authority banned all flights to and from China. The airline recently announced that it would be putting some of its aircraft up for lease, saying it will be leasing either its Airbus A321s, its Airbus A350-900s and/or its Boeing 787-9/10s.
Clearly it is unknown how long this outbreak will last and whether conditions will improve or worsen.
Are you one of the travelers affected by El Al’s sudden schedule changes? Let us know in the comments if your travel plans have had to change.