United Airlines is suspending some flights to and from China because of a “significant decline in demand” brought on by the emerging coronavirus outbreak, the company announced on Tuesday. Flights between major US hubs and Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong will be suspended between February 1st and February 8th, CNBC reports.
United offers more flights to and from China than any other US airline. It provides about 12 flights per day between the US and China (and Hong Kong), but that total number will decrease by about “three or four” per day, according to CNBC. Specifically, the company is reducing the number of flights at San Francisco, Newark, Chicago, and Washington Dulles airports.
The virus, which first appeared in Wuhan, China, has killed more than 100 people in that country and infected over 4,000 people worldwide. United says it’s suspending the flights because demand for travel between China and the US has dropped in the days since the outbreak began, rather than as part of any attempt to stop the spread. That’s not totally surprising; both the US State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told people this week to reconsider or avoid nonessential travel to China. The CDC has also expanded enhanced health screenings for the coronavirus to 20 US airports.
Other US airlines, like Delta and American, have announced that they’re waiving fees for people who want to change their scheduled flights through the end of February. But they haven’t suspended any flights yet.
“We have not adjusted our flight schedule at this time,” Curtis Blessing, a spokesperson for American Airlines, said via email. “We are continuing to monitor the situation very closely.” Delta Air Lines similarly said it has not made any changes to its operating schedule.