Coronavirus slashes China’s international capacity by two-thirds

February 11, 2020
airlines coronavirus
Photo: China News Service/Wikimedia Commons

Route expert OAG estimates that a whopping two-thirds of international airline capacity to and from China has been canceled due to the new coronavirus.

Further analysis by OAG shows that the number of weekly seats operated from china has fallen by 1.4 million seats since the week starting January 20, with Summer Olympics host Japan particularly hard hit.

READ OAG’s previous report on coronavirus impacts.

It notes that the reduction in capacity is more than all the scheduled international capacity from France this week.

READ: BA 747 sets new NewYork-London subsonic record.

Numerous airlines have suspended services to China as a result of the outbreak, which has now exceeded the 2003 SARS outbreak to top 40,000 cases and more than 900 deaths.

Most of these have been in China but there have been outbreaks of the disease around the world that prompted the World Health Organization to declare a global health emergency.

A number of countries have restricted entry to Chinese nationals and foreigners who have traveled to China during the crisis.

“No single market has been impacted by Coronavirus as much as Japan where scheduled airline capacity has fallen by some 200,000 per week compared to the week of the 20th January; a 60 percent fall in capacity in four weeks,’’ OAG’s John Grant said in a blog.

“Week on week comparison shows some 118,000 scheduled seats dropped from China to Japan.”

The OAG analysis also shows Thailand, which relies heavily on visitors from China, had also been hit with almost 200,000 fewer seats than four weeks ago.

In absolute terms, major country markets such as Indonesia (-92 percent), Singapore (-89 percent), Hong Kong (SAR) China (-80%) and the United States (-86 percent) have all seen dramatic reductions in capacity over the four-week period,’’ Grant said.

“The banning of flights by some countries is also reflected in no capacity to Italy whilst direct air links to other markets such as Hungary, Oman and the Maldives highlight the extent of the impact.”

OAG said China’s three major airlines had cut capacity by more than 500,000 seats compared to four weeks ago.

It noted this made Spring Airlines, which appeared to have cut capacity by just 6 percent, China’s biggest international airline.

The Hong Kong reductions have badly affected local carrier Cathay Pacific, with Cathay Dragon cutting capacity by about 63,000 seats compared to January 20.

US giant American Airlines recently announced it had extended the suspension of flights to Hong Kong from Los Angeles until March 27.

American still plans to resume flying to Hong Kong from Dallas-Fort Worth from February 21.

The virus also proved deadly to Virgin Australia’s Chinese aspirations. The Australian carrier had been struggling on the Hong Kong route and decided earlier this month to pull out permanently from March 2.