Citing the Coronavirus, El Al Halts All Flights to China
The company intends to reopen its route to Beijing on March 25
A flight from Beijing scheduled to land Thursday in Tel Aviv is the last flight before the company’s termination takes effect, the company said in its statement. El Al’s decision to halt its flights follows new recommendations made by Israel’s Ministry of Health Wednesday, even though the World Health Organization (WHO) advised against restricting international traffic because of the virus the same day.
El Al is not the first airline to stop flights to China because of the coronavirus. German flagship airline Lufthansa announced Wednesday it would suspend all of its flights to Mainland China until February 9, including flights operated by its subsidiaries Swiss Airlines and Austrian Airlines.
Lufthansa, SWISS and Austrian Airlines will be flying to their respective destinations in China for one last time today. This is intended to give our guests the opportunity to take their planned flight and our crews to return to Germany, Switzerland and Austria.— Austrian Airlines (@_austrian) January 29, 2020
British Airways has also suspended its flights to China, while other airlines, including Air Canada and Delta Airlines, have announced they will be suspending flights to certain cities in the Asian nation.
The coronavirus came to public awareness on December 31, 2019, when China informed the World Health Organization (WHO) it has detected several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, a port city in the Hubei province with a population of some 11 million. On January 7, WHO experts identified it as a member of the coronavirus family, a group of respiratory infections. China has responded by quarantining the major cities in Hubei, putting some 56 million people under lockdown, though some experts have doubted the effectiveness of this measure. Other countries have implemented security measures such as screening for symptoms at airports and restricting air travel to China.