Curtis Tate, Dawn Gilbertson and Hannah Yasharoff
Published 5:43 PM EST Jan 29, 2020
Delta Air Lines on Wednesday joined domestic competitors American and United in scaling back flights between the U.S. and China in response to a growing and deadly coronavirus outbreak.
The coronavirus has sickened more than 6,000 and killed at least 132 in China.
The airline said it would cut its weekly flights in half between the two countries, from 42 to 21, beginning Feb. 6 and lasting through April 30. That period lasts longer than American’s and United’s.
American’s suspension, announced earlier Wednesday, lasts nearly seven weeks. On Tuesday, United said it would cut 24 flights between the U.S. and China for the first week of February.
Delta’s cuts include service between Beijing and Detroit and Seattle; as well as between Shanghai and Los Angeles, Seattle, Detroit and Atlanta. Rather than operate daily, those flights will operate three to four times a week, the airline said.
“Delta will continue to monitor the situation and may make additional adjustments as the situation continues to evolve,” it said in a statement.
The airline said the changes would be reflected in its schedules starting Saturday. The airline also said it is in contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is following its guidance.
All three domestic airlines serving China already have issued flight waivers for travelers who don’t want to travel there, allowing them to postpone or cancel plans without the usual penalty.
American, United also cut China flights
Delta’s move follows American Airlines’ earlier Wednesday to curtail China flights.
American will suspend flights from Los Angeles to Shanghai and Beijing from Feb. 9 through March 27, according to spokesman Curtis Blessing. He said the airline’s reservations team would contact affected travelers directly by email or phone.
American will continue its flight schedules from Dallas-Fort Worth to Shanghai and Beijing, as well as from Los Angeles and Dallas-Fort Worth to Hong Kong, Blessing said. The airline operates 10 flights daily to and from Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing.
“We will continue to review our flight schedules to ensure we can accommodate the needs of our customers and will make updates as needed,” he said in a statement.
Coronavirus spurs flight cancellations: United becomes first US airline to scrap some China flights amid coronavirus travel warnings
United said it usually operates 12 flights per day from the U.S. to mainland China and Hong Kong. Its planned reduction will mean three or four fewer flights per day.
“Due to a significant decline in demand for travel to China, we are suspending some flights between our hub cities and Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai beginning Feb. 1 through Feb. 8,” United said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor the situation as it develops and will adjust our schedule as needed.”
The affected U.S. hubs include San Francisco International, Newark Liberty International, Chicago O’Hare International and Washington Dulles International.
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Foreign carriers cut service
British Airways and Asian budget carriers Lion Air and Seoul Air also are suspending all flights to China as fears spread about the outbreak, which has killed more than 130 people and infected more than 6,000 in mainland China and abroad.
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Several other airlines including Finnair, Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific and Singapore-based Jetstar Asia are reducing the number of flights to the country as demand for travel drops because of the outbreak.
British Airways said Wednesday it is immediately suspending all flights to and from mainland China after the U.K. government warned against unnecessary travel to the country amid a virus outbreak.
The airline operates daily flights from London’s Heathrow Airport to Shanghai and Beijing. It took the measure a day after Britain’s Foreign Office updated its travel advice on China, warning against “all but essential travel” to the mainland, not including Hong Kong and Macao.
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Air Seoul, a budget airline, became the first South Korean airline to suspend its fights to mainland Chinese destinations other than Wuhan, stopping its flights to the cities of Zhangjiajie and Linyi.
Lion Air said it has canceled more than 50 flights to China well into February. The flights are from five international airports in Denpasar, Manado, Surabaya, Jakarta and Batam to 15 airports in China.
Lion Group spokesman Danang Mandala Prihantoro said the suspension would be phased in gradually and would continue until further notice.
The epicenter of the outbreak is Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, but during their Tuesday press conference, CDC and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services officials said there were 60 cases in 13 other countries outside of China, including five in the U.S.
China has cut off access to Wuhan and 16 other cities to prevent people from leaving and spreading the virus further.
The White House is considering a ban on flights between the United States and China, Trump administration officials said Tuesday.
More: White House considers ban on flights to China amid coronavirus outbreak
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Contributing: Julia Thompson, John Bacon, USA TODAY; The Associated Press.
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