Nearly 10,000 Chinese flights suspended as coronavirus outbreak escalates, Cirium says


Global travel and data analytics company Cirium says nearly 10,000 flights have been suspended since the outbreak of the coronavirus in China. The thousands of cancellations in the last week, come as authorities in China, and around the world, grapple with the spread of the virus. Cirium statistics show that 9,807 scheduled flights within, to and from mainland China did not fly from January 23. The data spans the period from the day before the first reported flight cancellation to 28 January – the latest day for which figures are available. A growing number of international carriers are suspending scheduled flights to mainland China, including UK airlines. Flag carrier British Airways has cancelled all of its 129 flights that were scheduled to fly to Beijing and Shanghai from London Heathrow, from January 29 until February 29, affecting up to 24,000 passengers*. Similarly, Virgin Atlantic has today announced it will be suspending its flights to and from China, as of February 2, until further notice. According to Cirium data, the decision could affect 56 of the British carrier’s scheduled flights and as many as 11,500 passengers to the end of February. Cirium analysis reveals 92% of all scheduled flights to and from Wuhan – the city at the epicentre of the latest outbreak – did not fly between January 23 and 28. Of the 2,606 flights that were set to fly in and out of the city, which is home to 11 million people, a total of 2,406 services did not take place over this period. Peter Morris, Chief Economist at Ascend by Cirium, said: “Cirium data clearly shows the dramatic impact that coronavirus is having, with nearly 10,000 scheduled flights to, from and within China being suspended between January 23 and 28. “While the industry is playing its part to help prevent the spread of the virus, the outbreak will inevitably cause significant disruption of schedules and travel patterns in the short and medium term. “The precedent of the SARS outbreak indicates to us that the underlying demand for travel driven by GDP growth will in time produce a robust recovery. Cirium is closely monitoring the flights and traffic data to keep the market fully informed on developments.” According to Cirium, a total of 90,607 domestic and international flights were scheduled to operate across mainland China over the six-day period, between January 23 and January 28, out of which 9,807 did not fly. This represents a sizeable 10.8% of the country’s overall scheduled flights. Cirium’s data also shows that during this period Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines was the most heavily affected carrier by total number flights that did not operate. A total of 1,591 of its services were affected including 1,529 domestic and 62 international. This was closely followed by China Southern Airlines with 1,510 flights, including 1,425 domestic and 85 international, which did not take off. Xiamen Airlines suffered 837 unoperated flights, including 828 domestic and nine international services. In terms of percentage of flights that did not operate, the airline 9 Air – a subsidiary of Juneyao Airlines – was also hit hard. Approximately 77% (46 in total) of all the carrier’s planned international flights did not fly, in addition to 27% (140 in total) of its domestic services between January 23 and January 28. The airports that experienced the highest number of scheduled flights that did not operate were, as expected, Wuhan (2,406 out of 2,606), as well as Beijing Capital (920 out of 9,113) and Guangzhou (829 out of 8,236), followed by Shanghai Hongqiao and Xi’an to a lesser extent. The routes with the largest number of unoperated flights were all domestic, with the Beijing to Shanghai service topping the list. This was closely followed by routes to and from Wuhan, particularly the highly-popular Wuhan to Beijing route. Cirium’s dedicated team of expert data analysts are continuing to assess the impact of the coronavirus on the domestic and international air travel industry in and out of China. Its insights are based on data from the Cirium Core – the number one aviation and air travel data analytics source. 


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