Skies cleared as more flights are grounded by growing Covid-19 curbs

Pretoria News - - WORLD - |

WIDEN­ING curbs on travel to con­tain the spread of the coron­avirus led air­lines to ramp up flight can­cel­la­tions yes­ter­day, with new re­stric­tions span­ning Aus­tralia, New Zealand, the United Arab Emi­rates (UAE), Hong Kong, Sin­ga­pore and Tai­wan.

Glob­ally the num­ber of sched­uled flights last week was down more than 12%, flight data provider OAG said, with many air­lines hav­ing an­nounced further cuts to come.

In­dia’s gov­ern­ment or­dered com­mer­cial air­lines to shut down do­mes­tic op­er­a­tions from mid­night to­day on top of a ban on in­ter­na­tional flights to try and con­tain the coron­avirus.

Aus­tralia and New Zealand both warned against non-es­sen­tial do­mes­tic travel, while the UAE halted flights and Hong Kong, Sin­ga­pore and Tai­wan took steps to ban for­eign tran­sit pas­sen­gers. “We have to take care of the in­sti­tu­tions and peo­ple’s liveli­hoods, the soft cap­i­tal, so that we can restart in a timely way” the As­so­ci­a­tion of Asia Pa­cific Air­lines said.

The UAE, home to ma­jor car­ri­ers Emi­rates and Eti­had Air­ways, said it would sus­pend all pas­sen­ger flights and air­port tran­sit for two weeks to help rein in the virus. Sin­ga­pore Air­lines had been plan­ning to halve its in­ter­na­tional ca­pac­ity be­fore the Asian city-state banned en­try or tran­sit by short-term vis­i­tors on Sun­day. Tai­wan an­nounced sim­i­lar curbs that will hit China Air­lines and EVA Air­ways, which have mar­keted Taipei as a con­ve­nient and af­ford­able tran­sit air­port. In Hong Kong, Cathay Pa­cific Air­ways has cut its pas­sen­ger ca­pac­ity by 96%.

The im­pact on plane mak­ers has been deep and sud­den and yes­ter­day Air­bus an­nounced new steps to bol­ster its fi­nan­cial po­si­tion, in­clud­ing the sign­ing of a credit fa­cil­ity for $16.1 bil­lion (R285bn).

In the south­ern hemi­sphere, Qan­tas Air­ways, Vir­gin Aus­tralia Hold­ings and Air New Zealand were re-ex­am­in­ing sched­ules after their gov­ern­ments ad­vised against non-es­sen­tial do­mes­tic travel. In Hawaii, which or­dered 14 days in quar­an­tine for all ar­rivals from Thurs­day, Hawai­ian Air­lines said it would sus­pend most long-haul pas­sen­ger ser­vices ex­cept for a daily flight from Honolulu to Los An­ge­les and a weekly flight to Amer­i­can Samoa.

In main­land China, do­mes­tic ca­pac­ity has been ris­ing as some in­ter­nal curbs are eased, but there are con­cerns that pas­sen­gers on in­ter­na­tional flights could re-im­port the virus.

| Bloomberg

DR NNAE­MEKA Ndodo, right, and col­leagues work in the lab in Abuja, Nige­ria.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.