United Airlines, the third largest airline in the world, is officially the first US airline to suspend some flights to Asia out of coronavirus concerns. This is bad news for travelers who want to risk trips to outbreak regions — United offers more service to Asia than any other US airline, potentially forcing customers to seek flights with other services. The changes will take place over the next couple of months, with the specifics varying based on airport.
Though United will still conduct some flights to Asia, it has greatly reduced the number it will send to Japan and South Korea. As expected, demand for flights to China is nearly non-existent, according to the company, which reports that demand for trips to other Asia-Pacific countries has dropped by 75-percent.
In light of these changes, as well as the ongoing outbreaks, United says it will reduce the number of flights it will conduct from the US to Seoul in South Korea, as well as Osaka and Tokyo in Japan. As well, the airline is extending the date for its suspended flight to China and Hong Kong — it now sits at April 30, though it’s yet to be seen whether another extension ends up bumping that date farther into the future.
Overall, United’s flights from the US to Seoul will be reduced by around two-thirds, and the airline’s flights from the US to Japan will be reduced by around one-third. Trips to Singapore will likewise be reduced, in that case to around 40-percent. For some routes that will continue being supported, United will switch to smaller aircraft, presumably due to the lower number of travelers.
The news comes amid a growing number of cancellations and adjustments made in light of coronavirus. Yesterday, it was announced that GDC 2020 has been postponed until some time later this summer after several major companies withdrew their intent to participate in the event. As well, Mobile World Congress was canceled earlier this month and Facebook just recently announced the cancelation of its own developer conference.