Flights Are Resuming In China After Corona Virus Hazards
As the severity of the coronavirus epidemic in China starts to stabilize airlines are slowly resuming flights to the country. Although flights to Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus, remain suspended, a few airlines have resumed flights into and out of other major Chinese cities.
Better Days on the Horizon?
First, China’s three biggest carriers have all resumed domestic and international duties, even if it’s only partially at this point. Air China was the first to resume duty, with the first Air China flight post the coronavirus outbreak landing at the German commercial hub of Frankfurt from the southwest of Chengdu on February 28.
It’s worth mentioning that the flight, which usually operates three times a week, wasn’t to capacity. Instead, it began with two smaller A330-200s twice a week. Air China also serves many other international cities from the Chengdu hub but hasn’t restored those services just yet.
China Southern Airlines, meanwhile, resumed international flights on Tuesday 25th, making the first post-coronavirus suspension landing in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. The flight came from Guangzhou and had 239 passengers on board. The airline has also resumed 60% of domestic flights, according to the China Daily.
China Eastern is the other major airline that has resumed domestic and international flights. The airline announced recently that it plans to restart “more than 800” domestic and international flights by the end of April.
Data from aviation intelligence provider CAPA shows that the number of flights from China to Cambodia, France, Germany, Thailand, and the Philippines also increased in the final week of February.
Aside from outbound flights, incoming traffic has also increased considerably in China. EgyptAir, for instance, announced the full resumption of Cairo-Beijing-Guangzhou flights from Wednesday 27th “until further notice.”
It’s Been a Whirlwind for the Aviation Industry
As early as two weeks following the coronavirus outbreak, multiple airlines, especially those using Wuhan routes were canceling and suspending flights. By mid-February, nearly every airline had stopped flights to Wuhan and suspended a few other Chinese destinations as well.
In the US, American Airlines was one of the first to suspend flights to several Chinese destinations. As of January 31, all American Airlines flights to China were suspended. Delta followed suit shortly, officially suspending all flights to China and cutting capacity to neighboring South Korea on February 2. United Airlines announced their suspensions two days later, canceling all flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, and Hong Kong on February 5.
The trend quickly spread throughout the rest of the world, with Air India, Air Seoul, Air Asia, All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific, Mandarin Airlines, and China Airlines all suspending flights to various Chinese cities between January 23 and February 5. In total, 10,000+ daily flights to and from China were canceled in February alone.
These suspensions and cancellations dealt a massive blow to the industry's bottom line. A report released by IATA on February 21 predicts a 13% full-year loss of passenger demand for carriers in the Asia-Pacific region. It also says that the global airline industry could lose up to $30 billion in revenue this year.
Some Hope at Last!
That said, all signs point to a significant improvement in the global situation. The spread of the coronavirus has slowed down drastically, with no new cases reported in 14 of the 34 Chinese provinces and autonomous regions for a few days now. Additionally, fatality rates have reduced significantly globally.
If this positive trend continues, it could only be two or three months before the aviation industry is back to normalcy and flights into and out of China resume fully.