Internet Travel With Context
February 1-February 14, 2020
Read all about it! The spread of the Coronavirus is still mostly affecting mainland China, but Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan are losing flights and visitors, too. But as Chinese tourists stay home, the travel industry learns how much they mean to airline traffic, cruise ships and hotels. Here's how it's happening. New items are at the top; read up from the bottom for full context.

Coronavirus Update for February 14, 2020

Needless to say, it isn't a happy Valentine's Day on the Coronavirus front. Blatant racism against Asian travelers is beginning to pick up. Here are today's sobering developments:
        London/Heathrow briefly detained a number of aircraft this morning after a United Airlines flight from San Francisco arrived with a passenger feeling unwell.
        KLM was forced to apologize after crewmembers on a flight to Seoul from Amsterdam posted a sign making the lavatory off-limits due to Coronavirus fears. But the sign was only in Korean, sparking the logical conclusion that the crew was attempting to keep Asians out of the lavs.
        Wyndham Hotels was forced to apologize after two of its Indiana hotels denied rooms to Asian customers. Once again, the staff claimed the selective activity was due to Coronavirus fears.
        Finnair and SAS Scandinavian have extended through March the suspension of most flights to China and Hong Kong.

Coronavirus Update for February 13, 2020

China says it is getting the Coronavirus under control, but the death toll and infection rate have spiked. And other nations are beginning to realize that the virus will be with them for quite some time. Here are today's developments:
        Hilton says it has closed 150 hotels in China. USA Today has details.
        Cathay Pacific is closing three of its five premium class lounges at its Hong Kong airport hub. The South China Morning Post has the story.
        Chinese airlines are not paying foreign pilots and cancelling employment contracts without notice because flights have been grounded.
        British Airways has cancelled one of its two daily London-Hong Kong runs. The suspension lasts until at least late April. BA already dumped its flights to Beijing and Shanghai.
        Tokyo's Olympics will go on, the organizers insist. But questions are being raised now, says the Associated Press.
        Rail traffic in China has collapsed since the Chinese government has quarantined huge parts of the country and told virtually everyone to stay home and avoid crowds.

Coronavirus Update for February 12, 2020

The death toll from the virus has now exceeded 1,300 and it has infected more than 60,000 worldwide. The vast majority of cases continues to be in China. Meanwhile, a Holland America cruise ship with no recorded cases of the illness has been turned away from five countries. It is currently anchored off the coast of Cambodia. Officials there say passengers and crew will be allowed to disembark tomorrow. Here are today's other developments:
        United Airlines now says it is extending the closure of its China routes, including Hong Kong, until late April.
        Singapore Airlines, which flies nonstop to Hong Kong from San Francisco, has cancelled that route through March. The carrier is also halving its service between its Changi hub and Hong Kong beginning next week.
        Mobile World Congress Barcelona, the largest mobile-phone show, has been cancelled. It was scheduled for February 24-27, but many major exhibitors were withdrawing as the Coronavirus spread. As recently as Sunday, show sponsors insisted the event would be held as scheduled.
        Vietnamese airlines have lost more than US$400 million in revenue due to Coronavirus. The reason? Much like the Vietnamese economy, the carriers depend on tourism from China, which has disappeared. Reuters has the details.

Coronavirus Update for February 11, 2020

As China continues to clamp down on information, it is clear the Chinese economy has ground to a halt. Businesses are mostly closed, employees are still at home and the Chinese government is still urging the nation to shelter in place. Meanwhile, that situation means an increasing number of airlines are extending their own China quarantines. Here are the latest developments:
        American Airlines now says it is extending the closure of its China routes, including Hong Kong, until late April.
        China Airlines and Mandarin Airlines, carriers based in Taiwan, have slashed their schedules through April 29. Many routes are completely cancelled and service to major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai have been reduced to skeletal schedules.
        The superspreader, British businessman Steve Walsh, says he is cured. "Whilst I have fully recovered, my thoughts are with others who have contracted coronavirus," he said. Fox News has details.
        The Coronavirus now has an official moniker: COVID-19. NBC News explains its genesis.

Coronavirus Update for February 10, 2020

Doesn't matter if the Coronavirus infection rate is slowing down. The business just isn't there for airlines and the dominos keep falling.
        Air Canada has cancelled its China flights until at least March 27.
        Air France and KLM have extended their route curtailments and cancellations until March 15. Schedules are currently expected to return to normal--whatever that is--on March 29. Don't bet on it.
        British Airways has extended its China flight cancellations through March 31.

Coronavirus Update for February 9, 2020

Are you familiar with the concept of "superspreader?" That's a person who infects an outsized number of people with a disease, in this case the Coronavirus. If The Wall Street Journal is accurate, a British businessman attending a January conference at the Grand Hyatt in Singapore can be considered a Coronavirus superspreader. Stay tuned.

Coronavirus Update for February 8, 2020

The death toll from the Coronavirus in China (811) has now surpassed the number of deaths from the SARS virus more than a decade ago. The small silver lining? The mortality rate from Coronavirus is substantially lower than the SARS strain. Meanwhile, here's what's new today:
        Cathay Pacific has cancelled 52 percent of its February schedule. The cancellations in March are even higher: 57 percent or about 835 weekly flights across the main airline and its Cathay Dragon regional subsidiary. The heaviest cuts are from Hong Kong to China, where about 90 percent of flights have been dumped. One stunning example: Cathay had been running 91 weekly flights between Hong Kong and Shanghai. Now it is down to just seven. The figures were uncovered in a schedule analysis conducted by the South China Morning Post.
        Cruise lines have begun barring passage to travelers holding passports issued by China, Hong Kong or Macao.

Coronavirus Update for February 7, 2020

If the Chinese government is to be believed--Yeah, I know, what are the odds?--the Coronavirus is slowing down. What's not slowing down? It's crushing impact on travel. Here's what's new today:
        Canton Fair, China's preeminent trade venue, has cancelled shows until further notice. Dozens of other shows in Asia have been cancelled, too. Reuters has some of the details.
        Cruise lines continue to be virtual petri dishes for the Coronavirus. There are now more than 60 cases of the virus aboard the Princess Cruises ship quarantined off Yokohama, Japan. And both Guam and Japan have denied port to a Holland America ship that previously stopped in Hong Kong. USA Today has the story.
        Virgin Australia permanently cancelled its flights to Hong Kong. The airline's final Melbourne flight is Monday (February 10). Sydney service ends March 1. The cancellations are not directly related to the Coronavirus, however. Australia's second-largest carrier never established its Hong Kong flights and traffic has collapsed since democracy demonstrations began last year.

Coronavirus Update for February 6, 2020

Coronavirus events continue to overwhelm the travel industry, which has basically walled off travel to/from China. Here's what's new today:
        American Airlines has extended its suspension of LAX-Hong Kong service through March 27. Dallas/Fort Worth-Hong Kong flights are now suspended through February 20.
        KLM and Air France have extended flight cancellations to mainland China cities until March 15. The current plan is to resume flights to Beijing and Shanghai on alternate days from both Amsterdam and Paris/CDG hubs. Resumption of flights to other cities is not yet under consideration.
        World Dream, a cruise ship carrying 3,600 passengers and crew, is quarantined at Hong Kong's Kai Tak cruise port. Why? Three people onboard between January 19 and January 24 have contracted the Coronavirus.

Coronavirus Update for February 5, 2020

China says it is making progress slowing down the spread of the Coronavirus, but traffic is plummeting as travelers avoid China and nearby areas. Here's what's new today:
        United Airlines now says its flights to Hong Kong will end February 8 for at least two weeks.
        Turkish Airlines, a Star Alliance carrier, has cancelled all flights from its Istanbul hub to China. The suspension lasts at least through February. The carrier had been cancelling flights on select days.
        Cathay Pacific has again slashed flights to China from its Hong Kong hub and continued to reduce service to international destinations. Meanwhile, it is asking staff to take three-week unpaid holidays. Details here
        MedJetAssist, the on-demand evacuation operation, says it cannot now offer evacuations or other services from China, Taiwan, Macao and Hong Kong.
        Diamond Princess, a cruise ship with more than 2,500 passengers and 1,000 crew members, was quarantined today off the coast of Japan. Passengers are confined to their cabins after 20 cases of Coronavirus were detected.
        Bali is suffering now that Indonesia has banned flights--and thus tourist business--from China. But at least 5,000 Chinese tourists are stranded in Bali because they were not able to leave Indonesia before the flight ban was imposed.

Coronavirus Update for February 4, 2020

All fall down. That is the only way to describe what's happening now. Major airlines have basically abandoned flying to/from/within China. Hotels and railroads are closed or nearly empty. And things will get worse. Here are today's developments.
        American Airlines has now cancelled its flights to/from Hong Kong. The service suspension of those Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles routes will continue through at least late February.
        Cathay Pacific was already flailing because its traffic cratered as democracy demonstrations made Hong Kong a dicey visitor attraction. Now the city's flag carrier is dropping tranches of flights serving the mainland and pulling down regional and long-haul runs, too, as the Coronavirus devastates traffic. The South China Morning Post has the depressing details. In short, Cathay is cutting 30 percent of its global capacity and about 90 percent of its flights between Hong Kong and mainland China cities. As the paper notes, Cathay cut nearly half its global schedule during the 2003 SARS virus.
        Air China, a Star Alliance carrier, has told the U.S. Transportation Department that it is paring down to "critical ... essential" service. That means only a Beijing-LAX-San Francisco run and a Beijing-New York/JFK-Washington/Dulles route. It is asking DOT--U.S.-China routes remain relatively heavily regulated--for permission to fly this reduced service for 180 days.
        Macao hotels are half-empty, according to a report in the Macau News. Just a few weeks ago, the autonomous city was boasting hotel occupancy above 90 percent. And the Macao government has now ordered all of the city's casinos closed for at least two weeks. The government is urging residents to stay home except for grocery shopping.
        Railroads in the region are ending China links as well. Vietnam has closed its Hanoi-Nanning train and Russian railroads have ended all train service to China.

Coronavirus Update for February 3, 2020

As flights to and from mainland China continue to fall, what is also clear is that businesses are falling, too. Meanwhile, the few remaining travelers are being asked to jump through incredible hoops.
        OAG Aviation Worldwide, the airline-industry schedulekeeper, says there are 25,000 fewer flights to/from/within China this week compared to two weeks ago. Deep-dive numbers are gruesome.
        United Arab Emirates has ordered national airlines Emirates and Etihad to cut service to and from China. That has led both carriers to cut flights to Guangzhou and Shanghai beginning Wednesday (February 5). Beijing flights continue, but travelers are being asked to arrive at the airport eight hours before departure for additional screening and medical checks.
        Hainan Airlines, a putatively independent Chinese airline, says it has ended all North American routes. Hainan has pioneered flying to cities beyond Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou and operates Boeing 787 Dreamliner nonstops to cities such as Chengdu, Chongqing and Changsha.
        Hong Kong hotels, which depend on tourism from China, are in crisis. After taking a pounding during the democracy demonstrations, which kept mainland Chinese visitors away, the Coronavirus is delivering another blow. According to the South China Morning Post, four in ten hotel workers could lose their jobs.
        Pattaya hotels are suffering, too. The Bangkok Post says hotel occupancy has fallen as low as 10 percent now that Chinese guests are not coming.
        Cruise lines will deny boarding to anyone who has traveled from or through mainland China in the previous 14 days. The announcement was made by the Cruise Lines International Association, the trade group of 50 cruise firms.

Coronavirus Update for February 2, 2020

It looks like the Great Chinese Flight Wall is beginning to crumble in the face of plummeting traffic due to the Coronavirus.
        China Southern and Air China have filed immediate schedule changes that drop many flights to/from the United States, Canada, Australia, Britain, and Eastern Europe. China Eastern suspended all nonstops to the United States. Expect more cancellations as traffic continues to evaporate. Chinese carriers probably won't end service completely--the Chinese government isn't likely to allow such a drastic measure--but logic dictates there'll be few flights still running by the end of the week.
        Emirates Airline, one of the few non-Chinese carriers running its full schedule into China, is now bowing to reality. Some frequencies into Beijing and Shanghai have been dropped and other routes and flights are getting smaller aircraft (usually a Boeing 777) to replace the Airbus A380.
        Department of Homeland Security has now slapped substantial on passengers who have visited China in recent weeks. For U.S. citizens it boils down to being prepared: If you have been in China recently, expect to be tested and possibly quarantined. And if you are not a U.S. citizen, be prepared to be denied entry if you've visited China lately. Full details are here.

Coronavirus Update for February 1, 2020

Every day brings more flight cancellations into China as traffic disappears. Here are today's updates:
        Delta Air Lines now says China flights will end tomorrow (February 2) rather than later in the week as originally announced.
        Qatar Airways says it will end its China flights on Monday (February 3) due to the "significant operational challenges caused by entry restrictions imposed by several countries." In other words, the seats are empty and no one is going to China now.