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Budget airlines to suspend more flights on Chinese routes amid coronavirus scare

All News 18:57 February 05, 2020

SEOUL, Feb. 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's low-cost carriers will suspend more flights on Chinese routes to avoid fallout from the fast-spreading new coronavirus, industry sources said Wednesday.

Jeju Air Co., the country's biggest budget carrier, which recently suspended six out of 17 routes to mainland China, will halt another route beginning Friday, a company spokesman said.

Five out of 17 Chinese routes had been already suspended due to lower travel demand to the neighboring country during the low-demand winter season, he said.

In addition, Jeju Air said it will temporarily suspend the Incheon-Macao route from Friday and the Jeju Island-Hong Kong route from Feb. 19, while planning to reduce the number of flights on the Incheon-Weihai route from Monday.

The budget carrier serves 13 routes to Hong Kong and Macao.

This photo taken on Feb. 3, 2020, and provided by Jeju Air shows airport personnel preparing quarantine work for passengers on an arriving airplane at Jeju International Airport. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Other low-cost carriers are joining Jeju Air to reorganize their flights to respond to the worsening virus outbreak.

Jin Air Co. and Air Busan Inc. already suspended most of their flights to China early this year.

Jin Air plans to keep the Jeju-Xian and Jeju-Shanghai routes on hold until the end of March, while planning to halt the Incheon-Macao route from Friday through the end of February, a company spokesman said.

Air Busan said it will maintain the suspension of its Chinese routes until the end of March, an extension from its originally scheduled end-February.

Eastar Jet said it will gradually suspend seven routes to China and three routes to Macao and Hong Kong by Monday, while leaving the Jeju-Hong Kong route available to customers.

South Korea has two full-service carriers -- Korean Air and Asiana Airlines Inc. -- and seven low-cost carriers (LCCs) -- Jeju Air, Jin Air, Air Busan Co., Air Seoul Inc., Eastar Jet, T'way and Fly Gangwon.

Two more LCCs -- Air Premia Co. and Aero K Airlines Co. -- are expected to enter the market this year, bringing the country's total number of LCCs to nine.

Local budget carriers are expected to further suspend flights in coming weeks if the coronavirus continues to spread without showing signs of slowing.

The new coronavirus first appeared in Wuhan, the central Chinese city of 11 million people at the center of the outbreak, late last year and has killed at least 490 and infected more than 20,000 people in China as of Wednesday. Cases have reached 24 countries, including as far away as the United States.

South Korea has reported 18 confirmed cases as of Wednesday.

Last month, Korean Air Lines Co. and Asiana Airlines Inc., the country's two full-service carriers, already took steps to reorganize their flight schedules on Chinese routes from February.

Budget airlines to suspend more flights on Chinese routes amid coronavirus scare - 2

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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