The effects of the coronavirus continue to be felt across much of the travel industry as the growing pandemic stokes travelers’ fears, and forces tour cancellations, cruise itinerary changes and airline service suspension.
Major airlines worldwide have been forced to suspend flights or modify service in response to the coronavirus outbreak. And likewise, major tour operators have had to cancel scheduled tours and suspend travel to several Asian countries, as the outbreak continues to gain momentum.
Tour operators impacted:
Several major tour operators — including Trafalgar, Globus, and Abercrombie & Kent — have canceled or suspended tours taking place in or around mainland China until Apr. 30.
Tauck has also canceled four of its China tours scheduled for early April, and will allow guests to change their travel plans to a later date or to a different itinerary for those scheduled for the operator’s late April and May trips.
Additionally, Hong Kong-based tour operators — including Hong Thai Travel, Big Line Holiday, and Wing On Travel — have canceled all trips to China until the end of March, impacting the travel plans of more than 3,200 tourists. Similarly, EGL Tours, another Hong Kong tour company, announced it would cancel all tours departing for South Korea through Mar. 31.
Tour companies in other countries across Asia have also been severely impacted by reduced interest in travel due to the coronavirus.
According to a report by Reuters, tour operators in India said more than 50,000 Chinese tourists were expected to visit during January and February, and most of these bookings were now canceled. India, like other countries, has blocked the entry of people from China and Hong Kong.
“We fear immediate loss of up to $500 million as the coronavirus outbreak has hit the arrival of tourists from China, Hong Kong and neighboring countries,” said Pronab Sarkar, national president, Indian Tour Operators Association.
Sarkar also said losses for domestic tour operators would be much higher, as many outgoing local tourists to China and other countries were also canceling bookings after the outbreak.
In response to the continued drop in demand for travel to China, and due to the U.S. Department of State's decision to raise its China travel advisory to a Level 4, United is suspending operations between its hub airport cities and Beijing, Chengdu and Shanghai until Apr. 23.
Due to growing concerns regarding the coronavirus, American has suspended flights to and from mainland China and Hong Kong from its DFW and LAX hub until Apr. 24.
“We will continue to evaluate this schedule and make any adjustments as necessary,” American said in a statement.
Delta Air Lines
Delta has decided to temporarily suspend all U.S.-to-China travel until Apr. 30. Customers whose travel plans are affected will have the option to ask a full refund or request new accommodations after Apr. 30.
The airline will continue to monitor the situation closely and may make additional adjustments as the situation continues to evolve.
Air Canada temporarily suspended all direct flights to Shanghai and Beijing from Canada until Mar. 27, and from China until Mar. 28. It also suspended its Toronto to Hong Kong flights from Mar. 1-27, but its Vancouver to Hong Kong route remains active.
The carrier has extended its goodwill policy, allowing customers who are unable to travel due to new government-imposed entry requirements to be able to rebook their travel or be eligible for a refund later. Travelers will have the option to rebook their flights free of charge if they travel by June 15, 2020.
Customers traveling to, from or via Beijing, Shanghai or Wuhan will also have the option of canceling their flight for a full refund.
British Airways canceled all flights to Beijing and Shanghai until Apr. 1. Flights to and from Hong Kong remain unaffected.
Customers flying to and from Hong Kong up until Apr. 1 will have the option to rebook on to another flight operated by British Airways to the same destination at a later date, or request a refund.
“This situation will remain under review and we will continue to provide regular updates. If you have a booking with us, please make sure we have your contact details,” the airline said in a statement.
“We have suspended our two direct services between mainland China and Australia (Sydney-Beijing and Sydney-Shanghai) from Feb. 9 until Mar. 29, 2020, due to the entry restrictions imposed by countries including Singapore and the United States,” Qantas said in a statement.
There are no changes to our services between Australia and Hong Kong, as it is exempt from current travel restrictions.
Customers with tickets issued on or before Jan. 24 who no longer wish to travel have the option to rebook their flight, cancel their ticket for credit, or cancel their flights for a full refund. Change and cancellation fees will not be charged to these customers.
Originally, Air France had announced it was suspending service to Shanghai and Beijing until Feb. 9, but following a reassessment, the carrier decided to extend the suspension until Mar. 28.
Additionally, normal flight service should resume to and from Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, on Mar. 29.
Cathay Pacific Airways
Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong’s flagship carrier, has been forced to make some drastic cutbacks as the coronavirus continues to negatively affect global tourism.
The carrier announced earlier this month that it will stop hiring new staff; has ceased all non-critical spending; and plans to cut a third of its capacity over the next two months, including 90% of flights to mainland China. The company has also encouraged its 27,000 employees to take three weeks of unpaid leave in a bid to preserve cash.