The Real Reason Airlines Canceled Flights to China Earlier During the Coronavirus May Surprise You.

Every so often the universe throws us a curve ball. Just when you think everything is going great – the economy is roaring, the weather is beautiful, the birds are chirping and SURPRISE— a new virus is born. Hello Coronavirus (Covid-19)! This latest virus started in Wuhan, China and it is has reared its head in many places around the world.

The Coronavirus is no joke. Many people have been infected globally and some have died. Understandably, China took measures to quarantine part of their population. Some countries around the world instituted measures to protect their citizens by preventing anyone coming from China, whether Chinese or other, to enter their country. As a result we saw airlines cancel flights to and from mainland China and Hong Kong. But the real reason for the cancelations caught me by surprise. 

Basically, most airlines seized the opportunity to cancel flights so that they would not otherwise lose money flying half-empty planes. You see, the US is asking US citizens not to go to China right now. But this is a request, not a demand. You can still fly to China. On the other hand, the US is restricting who can come in to the US from China. The thing is, the airlines also need passengers that are flying to the US, and if Chinese cannot enter the US then the airlines lose lots of money flying empty planes. In the case of American Airlines the pilots refused to fly to China. So, since we haven’t gotten to the point where airplanes can fly themselves without a pilot for an entire flight, American Airlines had no choice but to cancel flights. 

Some airlines canceled flights for the safety of their crews and the liability that can cause them. It was partially a business decision not to get sued by the unions. In the case of Qatar Airways their crews are so international and fluid that if a flight attendant flies to Beijing, they cannot then fly to other destinations if they have been in China. So Qatar Airways did not want to see mass disruption to their crew operations. It was an operational consideration. 

So the airlines may not always be canceling flights based on their determination on the severity of the Coronavirus, but rather because their operations have been affected by the immigration restrictions instituted as a result of the virus.  Obviously this adds to the perception of an out-of-control virus. While I wholeheartedly agree that the Coronavirus is no joke and has to be taken seriously, the best prevention against contagion are the same that existed before the outbreak. 

I just returned from Thailand where I was leading a Zoom group and it was encouraging to see how much everything was business as usual. Other than the ubiquitous Chinese groups which were not present at all the sites, hotels, restaurants, and flights, etc were very busy. The novel Coronavirus is not going to bring international tourism to a screeching halt unless we let it. I’ll write about that next month. In the meantime, let’s use the already established rules for staying safe at home and while traveling abroad. 

Rather than repeat what has been clearly discussed already by Bryan Herb, please click on this link to read about how to Stay Healthy with These Eleven Essentials for Your Travel Bag.

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