United Cuts China Flights By A Whopping 66%

As the coronavirus situation worsens, airlines have been reacting swiftly by reducing or completely suspending their services to China. United Airlines is no different, on January 30th the airline announced that it would be cutting its flights by an astounding 66%. In fact, all United services to China out of Chicago O’Hare and Washington Dulles will be suspended beginning on the week of 9 February.

United Airlines 777
United’s daily San Francisco to Beijing service is actually one of the few that will continue. Photo: United Airlines

332 roundtrip cancellations

The cancellations are partially a proactive step in countering the spread of the virus, but they are also a result of plummeting demand due to travel restrictions being placed. United, in particular, services four Chinese cities: Chengdu (CTU), Beijing (PEK), Hong Kong (HKG), and Shanghai (PVG).

“This reduction of service — beginning February 9 and running through March 28 — includes 332 additional roundtrip cancellations, reducing our 12 daily departures from the United States to mainland China and Hong Kong to four daily departures. There are no planned travel reductions to Chengdu (CTU) at this time.” -United Airlines

Below is a list of suspensions and remaining United services between its hub airports and China:

Shanghai (PVG)

Week San Francisco (SFO)
Flight #857/858
Los Angeles (LAX) New York/Newark (EWR) Chicago O’Hare (ORD) San Francisco (SFO)
Flight #891/890
Feb 9 Daily Daily Daily Suspended Suspended
Feb 16 Daily Daily Suspended Suspended Suspended
Feb 23 Daily 3x / week Suspended Suspended Suspended
Mar 1 Daily 3x / week Suspended Suspended Suspended
Mar 8 Daily 3x / week Suspended Suspended Suspended
Mar 15 Daily 3x / week Suspended Suspended Suspended
Mar 22 Daily 3x / week Suspended Suspended Suspended

Beijing (PEK)

Week San Francisco (SFO) New York/Newark (EWR) Chicago O’Hare (ORD) Washington Dulles (IAD)
Feb 9 Daily Daily Suspended Suspended
Feb 16 Daily 5x / week Suspended Suspended
Feb 23 Daily Suspended Suspended Suspended
Mar 1 Daily Suspended Suspended Suspended
Mar 8 Daily Suspended Suspended Suspended
Mar 15 Daily Suspended Suspended Suspended
Mar 22 Daily Suspended Suspended Suspended

Hong Kong (HKG)

Week San Francisco (SFO) Flight #877/862 San Francisco (SFO) Flight #869/878 New York/Newark (EWR)
Feb 9 Daily 3x / week Suspended
Feb 16 Daily 1x / week Suspended
Feb 23 Daily Suspended Suspended
Mar 1 Daily Suspended Suspended
Mar 8 Daily Suspended Suspended
Mar 15 Daily Suspended Suspended
Mar 22 Daily Suspended Suspended
United
By 23 February there will be no United services to China out of its Newark Liberty hub. Photo: United

Westcoast services somewhat intact

Interestingly, United has decided against completely suspending much of its service to China out of San Francisco and Los Angeles. A Pew Research report gives us one explanation why, writing that nearly half (45%) of Asian-Americans live in the West, with almost a third (31%) in California alone.

But it’s not just Asian-Americans traveling between the United States and China during this period of crisis, nor is it just travelers from the West Coast. In fact, keeping at least one daily service to each of the major cities in China allows passengers from the rest of the country – as well as United’s network outside of the U.S., to get to China by connecting through SFO or LAX.

These services continue despite the January 27th CDC (Center for Disease Control) travel guidance for China, recommending that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to all of the country. However, one must assume that there would be a fair share of Chinese-nationals wanting or needing to return to their homes in China- or even government officials and health experts traveling between the two countries.

In fact, the Washington Post reported Tuesday that a top U.S. health official is offering to send a team from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to China to assist with the outbreak. Furthermore, the World Health Organization said that China is now allowing global health experts into the country. Maintaining frequent-enough services is particularly important for these purposes.

Coronavirus, evacuation, quarantine
Airlines around the world are taking action to deal with Coronavirus. Photo: Getty Images

Conclusion

We are continuously reporting-on and staying up-to-date with the latest changes in airline services due to the coronavirus outbreak. A summary of airline responses can be found in our article: Coronavirus Airline & Flight Suspensions: A Complete Guide.

Do you think United should keep its daily services from San Francisco to Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong? Or is it risking the likelihood of the virus spreading? Let us know in the comments.

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