Turkish Airlines Cuts New York Flights Due To Virus Worries

Turkish Airlines has canceled its flights to New York, effective from midnight local time tonight. The airline’s CEO Bilal Eksi confirmed in a tweet that the suspension was in motion. This leaves Turkish with only five international routes to just four countries.

Turkish airlines
Turkish is left flying to just five international destinations. Photo: Getty

New York canceled after today

The CEO of Turkish Airlines, Bilal Eksi, has confirmed today that the airline will cease flying to New York. In a brief message posted to Twitter, he announced that all Turkish Airlines flights to the city have now been canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The translation of the tweet reads,

“As of 27 March 2020 at 23.59 (local time), only limited international flights will continue until 17 April 2020 … Accordingly, the route to New York is cancelled.”

Turkish Airlines will continue to fly to two other US destinations – Chicago and Washington – as well as Hong Kong, Moscow and Addis Ababa.

The dropping of New York flights comes as the US reports a huge rise in coronavirus infections. Reports today suggest more than 86,000 people are confirmed to have the virus, eclipsing the number reported in hard-hit locations including China and Italy.

New York is becoming the epicenter

Out of the 86,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US, almost 40,000 are in the New York state area. The next highest occurrence is in New Jersey, where just less than 7,000 people are confirmed to be infected. 461 people have so far died of the virus in New York area, the highest tally by far in any part of the US.

The situation in Turkey is far less severe so far. Just 3,629 people are confirmed to have contracted COVID-19, leading to a total of just 75 deaths. As Turkey moves to minimize the spread of the virus within the nation, it makes sense for its airline to cut off flights to one of the worst-hit areas on the planet.

Turkish airlines coronavirus
New York is now one of the hardest-hit regions in the world. Photo: Getty

While Turkish will still fly to Washington and Chicago, those areas are currently maintaining relatively low levels of infection. Washington DC has reported just 267 confirmed cases, while Illinois is higher at 2,539.

Just four countries served

Once the most well-connected airline on the planet, Turkish Airlines has been paring back flights for over a month now. Thousands of flights have been canceled, and Turkish’s once extensive network of 121 countries has been reduced to just four.

Airlines around the world have been crying out for support from governments to get through the current crisis. Turkey owns almost half of Turkish Airlines, and President Erdogan has declared support will be available for the carrier. The exact mechanism and shape that support will take remains to be seen.

Turkish cargo
Turkish Cargo is using some passenger planes for additional cargo capacity. Photo: Getty

In the meantime, not all Turkish Airlines aircraft are parked up. The Daily Sabah reports that Turkish Cargo has commandeered some passenger planes to use in shipping goods and medical supplies around the world, adding 14,500 tons of extra capacity to and from Turkey along with 167 additional freighter flights.

What do you make of Turkish canceling New York flights? A good move, or too little too late? Let us know in the comments.