British Airways Suspends Flights to China Amid Coronavirus Fears

January 29, 2020 Updated: February 6, 2020
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British Airways (BA) has suspended all direct flights to and from mainland China amid the coronavirus outbreak after the UK foreign office warned against non-essential travel to the country.

The airline’s official website BA.com currently shows no direct flights to mainland China available to book, with a message: “Sorry, there are no direct flights for this route, flights with connections are below.”

“We apologize to customers for the inconvenience, but the safety of our customers and crew is always our priority,” British Airways said in a statement to Reuters on Jan. 28.

The airline usually operates daily flights from London’s Heathrow Airport to Shanghai and Beijing.

Earlier on Wednesday, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advised against “all but essential travel” to mainland China due to the viral outbreak.

“The Chinese government continue to impose further restrictions on movement within China in response to the coronavirus outbreak,” it said. “It may become harder over the coming weeks for those who wish to leave China to do so.”

BA’s move comes after United Airlines suspended some flights to and from China due to a major fall in demand.

UK-based airline Virgin Atlantic said its flights to Shanghai would continue to operate as scheduled.

Taiwan’s China Airlines, Jetstar Asia and IndiGo have also canceled some flights to China. Korean airline Air Seoul suspended all flights to China, while Indonesia’s Lion Air canceled some this month and all flights to China next month.

Several countries, including the United States and Japan, have started evacuating its citizens from the virus epicenter of Wuhan.

The deadly coronavirus outbreak has infected thousands in China and spread to 15 countries overseas, with the United Arab Emirates being the latest to be hit.

Most of the confirmed cases overseas are Chinese visitors, people who visited Wuhan, or family members who had close contact with the infected. In Japan, one of the six confirmed cases was a bus driver who drove tour groups from Wuhan. Germany has confirmed four cases being employees of an auto parts company who contracted the virus after a colleague from Shanghai visited their workplace.

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