First major Chinese airliner suspends flights to the United States over coronavirus outbreak

China Eastern has become the first major Chinese carrier to suspend flights to and from the United States because of the escalating Wuhan coronavirus outbreak. A plane from Chinese airline China Eastern departs from Hongqiaou Airport in Shanghai in front of the skyline on February 8, 2015.

China Eastern has become the first major Chinese carrier to suspend flights to and from the United States because of the escalating Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.

The virus has killed 361 people and sickened more than 17,000 in China so far, with nearly 180 cases confirmed in countries such as the United States, Germany and Japan. One man has died in the Philippines.

Due to "the recent public health incident," China Eastern is canceling flights from Shanghai (PVG) to Los Angeles and New York (JFK) from February 2 through February 10, according to a notice circulated to travel agents and seen by CNN Business. Flights to the major US hubs were unavailable to book on China Eastern's website until March 29, however.

China Eastern did not respond to a request for comment.

China Eastern is also canceling flights from Shanghai (PVG) to San Francisco on February 6 and February 9, to Chicago on February 8 and to Honolulu from February 3 until March 27, according to the notice.

Several flights to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver, Canada, that originate in Chengdu or Kunming with layovers in Nanjing or Qingdao have also been canceled this week.

"In the days to come, China Eastern will pay close attention to the epidemic, and may further adjust the arrangements of flights," the notice said.

China's two other major carriers, Air China and China Southern, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Direct flights to the United States were still available to book on Air China and China Southern's websites on Monday.

Shares in all three companies fell by about 10% — the daily maximum limit — in Shanghai on Monday, the first day of trading following the extended Lunar New Year holiday. The wider market closed down 8%.

Major international airlines such Air Canada, American Airlines, British Airways, Delta, Lufthansa and Qatar Airways have already suspended all flights to and from mainland China until the end of February or longer.

United Airlines said Friday it was suspending flights from its US hub cities and Beijing, Chengdu and Shanghai from February 6 to March 28. This week, the carrier will "operate select flights to help ensure our US-based employees, as well as customers, have options to return home," it said in a statement.

A growing number of countries, including the United States, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea, have begun barring entry to all foreigners who have traveled to mainland China, with Italy and Israel stopping all incoming air traffic from the country. Many more countries have told their citizens not to travel to mainland China.

Beijing officials said on Sunday that the outbreak has nearly wiped out all inbound travel to China's capital city.

Train and flight bookings to Beijing in the coming days has plunged more than 70% compared to a year earlier, Rong Jun, deputy commissioner of the Beijing Transportation Commission, told reporters on Sunday. He did not specify a time frame.

Travel to and from Beijing also fell more than 60% during the Lunar New Year period, China's peak travel season, Rong added.

-- Alexandra Lin contributed to this report.

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