LONDON, 5 February 2020. Governments are stepping up measures to control the spread of the novel coronavirus and increasing security as well as health checks for arriving passengers from China. At the same time, unprecedented flight cancellations are cutting travel from China to a trickle.
That’s this week’s takeaways in OAG’s latest blog that runs the airline flight numbers for the last three weeks and all the scheduled changes.
“The conclusion: “it’s probably the most dramatic change in schedules from one country in such a short period ever,” the blog states.
In short, OAG says over 25,000 flights have been cancelled to and from and within China this week compared to two weeks ago.
The loss of 4.4 million seats is equivalent to the whole of the Indian market (4.2 million seats) stopping all services such is the scale of change.
In percentage terms, Singapore (-38%) and Thailand (-34%) have seen the most substantial reductions in capacity with more than one-third of capacity dropped over the last two weeks with Thailand in absolute terms seeing over 100,000 seats lost week on week.
Domestic Capacity Axed
OAG churns out the totals for China’s domestic market that is down by 3.8 million in capacity. Some 23,000 fewer domestic services are scheduled than last week.
Six of the largest airlines impacted are domiciled in China with China Eastern suffering the most with some 82,000 fewer seats planned this week than two weeks earlier.
“This week’s reductions in capacity are probably the most significant ever seen in one week in response to any pandemic event; SARS was dramatic but more regional whilst Ebola was across a range of smaller markets. The likelihood is that we will see further changes in the next week in response to both the virus but also demand which has naturally been impacted with consumer confidence badly damaged,” OAG forecasts.
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(Source: OAG, author John Grant)