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.
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:
|Week||San Francisco (SFO)
|Los Angeles (LAX)||New York/Newark (EWR)||Chicago O’Hare (ORD)||San Francisco (SFO)
|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|
|Week||San Francisco (SFO)||New York/Newark (EWR)||Chicago O’Hare (ORD)||Washington Dulles (IAD)|
|Feb 16||Daily||5x / week||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|
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.
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.