British Airways and other airlines cancel all flights to China due to coronavirus

29.01.2020 at 15:09

Travel news

International businesses from airlines and carmakers to tech and consumer groups have drastically curbed their China operations as the corporate impact of the coronavirus crisis worsens.

British Airways on Wednesday suspended all flights to and from mainland China, while Starbucks shuttered 2,000 outlets and retailers such as Uniqlo and H&M closed dozens of stores.

Chinese officials said the death toll from the outbreak had risen to 132, with confirmed cases in the country climbing to 5,974.

Evacuations are under way to take foreign nationals out of the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the heart of the outbreak in Hubei province, with Japanese and US flights departing on Wednesday morning.

Big airlines have been among companies worst affected by the crisis, as concerns mount over the impact on global travel.

The share price of BA parent IAG has slid more than 10 per cent since mid-January, while European rivals Air France-KLM and Lufthansa have also been hit.

BA, which flies to Beijing and Shanghai, said its flight suspensions followed Foreign Office advice that UK nationals avoid all but essential travel to mainland China.

“We apologise to customers for the inconvenience, but the safety of our customers and crew is always our priority,” the airline said. It has blocked out sales until the beginning of March.

India’s largest private airline IndiGo announced on Wednesday it was suspending its routes to Chengdu and Hong Kong but would continue flying to Guangzhou.

United Airlines has suspended some flights to China and Hong Kong.

Wednesday’s moves followed a decision by Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific to halve the number of its flights to and from mainland China after the territory’s chief executive Carrie Lam pledged to scale back transport links with the mainland to prevent the spread of the virus.

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