- 1 SienceMag: The United States leads in coronavirus cases, but not pandemic response
- 2 USA Today: Why are airlines still flying in and out of US coronavirus hot spots and will they continue?
- 3 Business Insider: 64 global airlines have completely stopped flying scheduled flights due to travel bans, airspace closures, and low demand for travel — see the full list
By Science News Staff Apr. 1, 2020 , 12:00 PM
Science’s COVID-19 reporting is supported by the Pulitzer Center.
America is first, and not in a good way. Last week, the United States set a grim record, surpassing all other nations in the reported number of people infected with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. As of this morning, officials have documented nearly 190,000; the death toll neared 4100. Even President Donald Trump—who just 1 month ago claimed the virus was “very much under control”—has warned that the pandemic is about to get much worse.
To limit the damage, Trump announced on 29 March that federal recommendations to practice physical distancing would remain in place at least through the end of April, dropping his much-criticized push for a faster return to business as usual. In the meantime, officials across the nation are scrambling to find enough ventilators, protective gear, and supplies for hospitals overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients—or about to be. Many state governors ratcheted up restrictions intended to slow the pandemic, imposing stay-at-home orders that some said could last into June.
Despite such actions, the U.S. pandemic response remains a work in progress—fragmented, chaotic, and plagued by contradictory messaging from political leaders. “We don’t have a national plan,” says epidemiologist Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. “We are going from press conference to press conference and crisis to crisis … trying to understand our response.”
The United States is “in a reactive mode,” says Jeremy Konyndyk, a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development who headed the U.S. Agency for International Development’s disaster response efforts under former President Barack Obama. “This is a virus that punishes delay. … We’re still chasing the virus.”
To catch up, Osterholm and other researchers have released a flurry of battle plans in the past week. Many officials have welcomed the recommendations and signaled their support. But the question now is whether the United States—a patchwork of more than 50 state and territorial governments marked by political polarization and a history of fierce resistance to centralized authority—can follow through.
The urgency is great. A review of 12 mathematical models conducted by federal scientists concluded the United States is likely to see millions of people infected. The death toll is now likely to exceed 100,000 even with distancing and other measures, Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, has said repeatedly. Some experts fear even those numbers are too optimistic, given that outbreaks are now poised to explode in places—including Louisiana, Michigan, and Florida—that are ill-prepared for the surge of people needing hospitalization.
The new battle plans generally agree several moves need to be taken immediately. Federal, state, and local governments must consistently urge, if not order, most people to stay home and keep their distance from others. Federal officials must take a stronger role in directing medical supplies to areas most in need. Testing for the virus must accelerate and expand so that people who are infected can be quarantined.
But there are numerous obstacles. Testing could soon be hampered by a shortage of reagents, caused in part by the disruption of supply chains in Asia, Osterholm notes. Instead, health officials may have to rely on less precise illness surveillance—documenting the frequency of COVID-19 symptoms to estimate the number of cases.
Exponentially rising case numbers (left, as of 30 March) indicate outbreaks are exploding in some states, while modeling (right) suggests the U.S. death toll will be large.
Persuading more than 320 million people in the United States to take the pandemic seriously, meanwhile, will require a radical change in messaging from political leaders at every level, from the White House to city halls. “Rule one of communication in a pandemic is [to] have a message and stick to it,” says political scientist Scott Greer of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, who has studied the U.S. response to the 2014 Ebola epidemic. So far, that’s been the exception, as Trump and state and local officials have delivered a cacophony of conflicting messages, from indifference to alarm.
“Yesterday, I was supposed to be in church on Easter, and now all of a sudden New York’s under quarantine,” says biologist Carl Bergstrom of the University of Washington (UW), Seattle, referring to Trump’s vacillating messages over the past few weeks. The lack of clarity, he says, is “hemorrhaging that reservoir of trust” needed to persuade the public to immediately adopt nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) such as physical distancing. “When you have a pandemic where you don’t have pharmaceuticals or vaccines, you’re restricted to NPIs. And you’ve got this reservoir of trust that you can use to deploy NPIs.”
Governors go their own ways
The absence of strong nationwide coordination has highlighted the division of legal power between the federal and state governments, observers say. As the pandemic has deepened, governors have gone their own ways, with some adopting stringent measures and others shrugging off the need for immediate action.
The White House, for its part, has signaled it will let governors make their own decisions, in part because they have greater control of on-the-ground actions. For example, governors, not federal officials, typically hold police powers to shut businesses and enforce curfews. But many governors and local officials are reluctant to invoke those powers and suffer the political costs without clear direction from above, Greer says. Political division over the pandemic has also hampered decisive action: Polls show Republicans perceive the threat as less serious than Democrats and independents.
To see the consequences of such divides, Greer points to Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis (R) delayed ordering a statewide closure of beaches and other facilities, apparently unwilling to cross the powerful tourism industry—and his political base. DeSantis “is dependent on a large bloc of voters who are Republicans and many are very pro-Trump. If I’ve got Donald Trump saying essentially, ‘Don’t lockdown,’ what political cover do I have?” Greer says. (Yesterday, DeSantis said the White House coronavirus task force had not sent him specific recommendations, but, “If they do, that’s something that would carry a lot of weight with me.” Epidemiologists predict the dithering will worsen the outbreak in Florida, which now has more than 7000 cases.)
New research suggests partisan leanings might be influencing pandemic response in other states, too. In a preprint released on 28 March, researchers at UW found that states with a Republican governor or where Trump fared better in the 2016 election were less likely to have instituted a range of social distancing measures than states led or dominated by Democrats. Although that study comes with plenty of caveats, it is clear that, with a few exceptions, Republican governors have been more reluctant to impose strict restrictions.
Bridging such divisions will be essential if the United States is to defeat the coronavirus, says Harvard University epidemiologist William Hanage. “The closest comparison here, in terms of national mobilization, is a war. And there is no way the United States would fight a war as 50 separate states.”
Some public health experts are dismayed that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which has prominently provided national leadership in past outbreaks, hasn’t been more visible. “In every other public health emergency this country has faced since the CDC was created 75 years ago, it has played a central role,” says Thomas Frieden, a former director of the agency under Obama. “Not having a central role here is like fighting with one hand tied behind your back. I’ll feel much safer if and when it becomes clear that [CDC] is playing a key role in developing policy options based on science and communicating the reasons for those policy decisions to the public,” Frieden says.
Julie Gerberding, who led CDC between 2002 and 2009, notes that “when you poll Americans about who they trust, CDC still ranks as the most trusted source of this kind of information. … That’s something we should use at a time when people are frightened and really want to get reliable information firsthand.”
What happens after the pandemic slows?
Even if lockdowns succeed at halting the virus, as they have in China, the country will next have to marshal massive resources to monitor for new outbreaks and quickly contain them, Konyndyk says. Identifying cases and contacts and isolating them will require a huge increase in public health workers at the local level. “Most of what we would need to do to transition away from large-scale social distancing is not in place, and there don’t appear to be plans to put it in place,” he says.
Those measures would include intensive testing to monitor for new cases, swift quarantines, and tools such as cellphone tracking to find anyone who has crossed paths with an infected person. “Contact tracing has been assumed to be something you can’t take to scale,” Konyndyk says. “I think the lesson of South Korea and China is you have to find some way to scale that.”
Although state and local governments employ most of the public health workers on the front lines, the challenge is too big to leave it to them, Konyndyk says. He recently spoke with an official in rural Georgia who described having one public health worker for the entire county. “This is something that purely from a resource perspective cannot be left to the states,” he says. “This needs to look more like a domestic Peace Corps or AmeriCorps or Teach for America.” (Some have suggested governors could assign the tracing task to National Guard troops.)
Ann Bostrom, a risk communications expert at UW, believes government officials will need to become more transparent. She’s concerned that some U.S. counties haven’t been releasing even basic information about new COVID-19 cases, such as the patient’s city of residence. (In contrast, countries such as South Korea sent cellphone alerts to the public informing them of new cases in their neighborhoods.) “People need to judge their exposure,” Bostrom says. “They need to know what’s going on.”
With reporting by Warren Cornwall, Jocelyn Kaiser, Kai Kupferschmidt, David Malakoff, and Kelly Servick.
Dawn GilbertsonBart Jansen USA TODAY March.31.2020
New York Congresswoman Grace Meng posted a selfie from her American Airlines flight from New York to Washington, D.C., on Twitter Friday morning as she headed out for the vote on the coronavirus stimulus bill.
One of the first comments wasn’t about the $2 trillion package, but about air travel during the pandemic.
“Can you find out why airlines are still flying similar schedules to pre-lockdown?” a follower asked Meng. “I get that essential travel is required for some, by why not severely limit the flights?”
It’s a question being asked across the country given the deepening coronavirus crisis, with the United States last week surpassing China as the country with the most diagnosed cases and New York as the new epicenter. Government officials are imploring people to stay home. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a request Saturday night asking residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to curtail nonessential travel in order to help limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Yet airports remain open, if eerily empty. More than 550 flights took off from LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy and Newark airports on Sunday alone, according to flight tracker FlightAware.
More than passengers are at risk. Workers on the travel frontlines, including Transportation Security Administration screeners, air traffic controllers and flight crews are testing positive, with a 65-year-old American Airlines flight attendant dying last week after being diagnosed.
Airlines, industry officials and even health experts say flights are an essential service, for people and cargo, and need to continue during the crisis.
The federal government underscored its position with a key provision in the $2 trillion coronavirus aid package approved last week: airlines that accept a share of the $50 billion set aside for the industry must maintain a minimum level of service through at least September.Get the Travel newsletter in your inbox.
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Some people ‘have to fly’
Infectious disease expert Greg Poland, director of the Mayo Clinic Vaccine Research Group, understands the need for essential travel, even during a pandemic. A neighbor had to fly to Massachusetts last week for experimental chemotherapy treatment, and a relative who is a nurse is due to fly to New York this week to help out.
“People have to go to the grocery store … and there’s some that have to fly,” he said. “We’re not shutting down Walmart or grocery stores or things like that, but we are putting what I call contextually appropriate layers of protection.”
Airlines have put in place stringent safeguards for those still flying, including supercharged cleaning, reduced in-flight service and the spacing out of passengers on flights.
Poland said he would have a problem with flights continuing if they were filled with vacationers, as is the norm this time of year. Instead, they are empty, with airlines struggling to fill even 15% of their seats. Colleagues who have flown recently report just nine to 20 people on their flights, giving them plenty of room to spread out, he said.
“I don’t like the idea of people saying, ‘I think I’m going to take a holiday because flights are cheap now,” he said. “That’s actually counterproductive.”
Industry officials: Airlines and airports are essential services
The CEOs of American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, which both service metropolitan New York and destinations around the country, said in videos to employees last week about the coronavirus stimulus bill that the government considers airlines to be essential services and wants them to keep flying during the crisis.
Southwest CEO Gary Kelly told employees in a Q&A video that the airline would save money if it stopped flying, but that the airline does not plan to do that.
“We are essential to keeping the country open and keeping the country running, and people, even in this scenario where travel is discouraged in many ways, people have to go,” he said. “So, no, we don’t want to shut down.”
He said it’s not as simple as parking the airline’s fleet of 750 planes.
“You know that actually would be quite complicated,” he told employees in the video. “I’d rather keep the blood flowing through the arteries, so to speak, and I’d like to continue to serve our customers and certainly what the federal government expects of us.”
Airline union officials are on board with essential flights continuing – at least for now.
Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, which represents flight attendants at United and other carriers, thanked the DOT for only requiring airlines who receive aid to retain a fraction of flight levels to minimize the spread of the virus.
“We applaud the Department of Transportation for taking swift action to define continued essential service, which will help curb exposure and spread of the virus,” she said in a statement Tuesday. “We encourage the administration to take additional steps to cut redundant service that puts airline workers at unnecessary risk.”
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the JFK, LaGuardia and Newark airports, reported a large decline in passengers and cargo in March due to COVID-19. But the board chairman, Kevin O’Toole, said Thursday that the agency is committed to remaining open for people to travel and for the shipment of cargo, such as fuel, food and medical supplies.
“The port authority is open and doing business. This region, this country relies upon that,” O’Toole said at a board meeting. “Our commitment to the public is that we will stay open, and we will keep a safe environment for all to traverse.”
Hassan Shahidi, president and CEO of the Flight Safety Foundation, said some passenger airlines are flying cargo-only flights on key routes to transport mail and medical supplies. And some passengers still need to travel.
“While demand is significantly down, there are still people that need to get from one place to another for essential reasons and, in many cases, airlines offer the most efficient and safest means of travel,” Shahidi said. “People are also trying to get home before strict lockdowns are put in place for long periods.”
States limit traffic from New York, growing list of other cities
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he’s talked to President Donald Trump about domestic flight restrictions but isn’t waiting for the federal government to act. Last week he issued an executive order requiring airline passengers traveling from New York, New Jersey or Connecticut to quarantine themselves for 14 days after arrival.
“Today, there are over 190 direct flights from the New York City area to the state of Florida. I would reckon, given the outbreak there, that every single flight has somebody on it who is positive for COVID-19,” DeSantis said at a news conference March 23. “As we‘re working to stop it in the state of Florida, you’re consistently having people come in from one of the top hot spots in the entire world.”
On Thursday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced similar restrictions for airline passengers arriving from New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, plus New Orleans which has also seen a surge in cases. He added several cities and states to the list on Monday, including California, Washington, Louisiana, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit and Miami. Arriving passengers have to stay at home or in their hotel for 14 days or the length of their visit, whichever is shortest, with no visitors allowed except a physician or health care provider.
“The New York Tri-State Area and the city of New Orleans have become major centers of this pandemic, and it is vital that we take necessary precautions to prevent additional exposure that could originate from people traveling from these areas to Texas,” Abbott said in a statement.
To avoid conditions becoming more dire, Andrew Coggins, a clinical professor of management at Pace University, suggested measures such as taking the temperature of passengers before they board planes, to avoid halting flights.No U.S. airlines have announced such measures before takeoff.
“It’ll wreak havoc on the plane turn-around times, but it’ll signal to the passengers that the airlines take their health seriously,” Coggins said. “If you know or have indications that you may be sick, you should not fly!”
Domestic flight ban floated by Trump, then dismissed
Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have previously said domestic travel restrictions were an option to stop the spread of coronavirus, especially in “hot spots” and areas where cases are out of control.
But they haven’t announced any flight restrictions in New York or other states nor publicly broached the subject recently, beyond reminding people they should avoid nonessential travel.
On Monday, just days after signing the coronavirus relief package that includes the airline minimum service provisions, Trump was asked on Fox & Friends why millions of people are still flying from hot spots, why airports are still open and whether he planned to close airports.
“We are going to be – hopefully before we close things – we’re going to start to open things,” Trump said. “Airports, when you close them and reopen them, it’s a tremendous deal. It’s a tremendous deal. In addition, you need them for emergencies, you have emergency flights.”
The Federal Aviation Administration would be the agency toorder any shutdown or restrictions as happened a year ago when the Boeing 737 Max was grounded following two fatal crashes in less than five months. Asked about the potential for grounding flights nationwide, the agency responded with a statement: “The FAA does not comment on rumors.”
Veteran airline analyst Philip Baggaley, managing director of S&P Global Ratings, said airlines are effectively doing their own shutdown by slashing flights to skeleton levels, flight cuts that grow as states like Texas and Florida try to cut off air travel from certain places with strict quarantine measuresfor arrivals. In the wake of the CDC advisory covering New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, for example, Spirit Airlines this week said it is suspending service at LaGuardia, Newark, Hartford, Connecticut, and two smaller New York airports through at least May 4.
Airlines are doing their own shutdown
There’s a difference between retaining “some flights” during the crisis and operating as usual. U.S. airlines have been slashing flights since the coronavirus crisis began in late January, and the flight reductions have deepened as the crisis drags on and spreads to more places. Even with the government relief, airline executives are warning that additional flight cuts will be necessary given a plunge in travel demand.
International service is practically gone from New York and airports across the country, the victim of a series of government travel bans in the U.S. and other countries. An American Airlines flight from New York JFK to Cancun, Mexico, last week had six passengers on a 172-seat plane.
Reductions in U.S. flights started slow, but many major airlines are now operating or plan to operate 50% or fewer flights as travel demand has all but dried up from business travel and event cancellations. CDC guidelines urge travelers to avoid discretionary travel. States and cities have ordered people to stay-at-home or shelter-in-place, which raised travel anxiety.
On Tuesday, Southwest Airlines said it will operate just 2,000 daily flights in May, compared with more than 4,000 a year ago. The airline has parked or plans to park 50 planes.
Across the three New York airports, the number of flights is down sharply. On Thursday, the number of daily flights into and out of JFK was 515, vs. 1,212 a year ago, according to flight tracker RadarBox. LaGuardia saw 380, down from 1,268, and Newark, 495 vs. 1,145.
Passenger volume at the three airports was down 85% this week compared with March 2019, according was to Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton.
Airports across the country are seeing a fraction of the traffic they’d normally see in March, one of the busiest months of the year for air travel due to spring vacations. U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Wis., said he flew to Washington on Thursday with only five passengers on the only Southwest flight from Milwaukee when there are usually two daily flights that are nearly full.
“We must act to calm the panic and move back to normalcy,” Grothman said before voting Friday on the $2 trillion spending bill.
The most telling statistic: the TSA said it screened just 203,858 passengers and airline crew members on Thursday, down from 2.48 million on the same weekday a year ago. That’s a decline of nearly 92%. The daily numbers fell below 200,000over the weekend and dipped below 155,000 on Monday.
Baggaley and others said pressure to shut down U.S. air traffic might grow if the coronavirus crisis dramatically worsens across the United States or a wave of critical industry employees test positive and are unable to work.
“If the virus spreads very widely throughout more of the country, there could be a call to ground the airlines,” he said.
New York State Sen. Mike Gianaris, whose Queens district includes LaGuardia and JFK, said he is focused on more pressing coronavirus issues in his district such as a housing crisis when residents aren’t able to pay April rent this week rather than why the airports are still open.
“I don’t think those planes are very full from what I’m gathering,” he said.
Business Insider: 64 global airlines have completely stopped flying scheduled flights due to travel bans, airspace closures, and low demand for travel — see the full list
Airlines around the world are choosing to ground flights rather than fly empty aircraft as the COVID-19 crisis continues to affect the skies, with some airlines being bound by a government mandate to stay grounded.
Travel bans and airspace closures also have contributed to the temporary suspensions of over 50 airlines, ranging from global national carriers to small regional airlines. While demand for travel is already at a record low, airlines are struggling to find airports to land at with entire nations shutting down their borders in a desperate attempt to prevent an outbreak of the virus that has infected thousands and shown little regard for national boundaries.
With air travel the primary means of the virus’ spread, airlines are the first target of nations attempting to protect their citizenry.
European, Asian, and Middle Eastern countries primarily have seen their airlines temporarily shutdown, with some of the world’s largest airlines forced to cancel countless flights and leaving travelers rushing to get in the air before it’s too late. In the US, airlines have greatly reduced operations but many still operate as the country’s airspace remains open.
Belgium’s Air Antwerp announced that it will be canceling all of its flights from March 22 until April 12.
The temporary suspension of operations, the airline stated, is due to measures taken by the Belgian government to restrict travel, especially as the European Union voted to close its external borders.
Air Arabia announced the suspension of its operations from March 25 as a United Arab Emirates government directive prohibits passenger flights from arriving in the country.
The Sharjah-based airline did not say when it plans to resume operations.
Kazakhstan’s Air Astana announced the suspension of operations until mid-April following a government state of emergency restricting flights in the country.
The mandate affects all Kazakhstan airlines but Air Astana will be operating limited non-scheduled repatriation flights for residents and citizens.
Air Baltic announced that it will suspend all operations as the government of Latvia, where the carrier is based, has decided to largely close its borders to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in its country. The carrier will cease operations from March 17 until April 15, including in Estonia and Lithuania where it has secondary bases.
Air India is temporarily ceasing operations as Indian airspace is closing on March 25, according to a government press release.
The closure affects all of India’s airlines and foreign airlines flying to or through the subcontinent.
Air India Express
Air India Express is temporarily ceasing operations as Indian airspace is closing on March 25, according to a government press release.
The closure affects all of India’s airlines and foreign airlines flying to or through the subcontinent.
Air Madagascar announced the suspension of all flights as its island homeland attempts to prevent a coronavirus outbreak.
The African airline will be suspending flights for a month between March 20 and April 20.
Air Malta announced on Wednesday that it will be suspending operations beginning just before midnight on Friday until further notice.
The suspension comes as the Maltese government is suspending all commercial flight traffic to the island nation in an attempt to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Air Moldova will be suspending operations until April 1, Routes Online reported, per government mandate.
The suspension primarily affects flights from the airline’s Chisinau hub to European and Middle Eastern destinations.
Air Serbia announced the suspension of its operation following restrictions placed on international air traffic from the Serbian government. The airline primarily operates within Europe with one long-haul route between Belgrade and New York.
Air Transat announced that all flights will be gradually canceled until April 30. The move comes as the Canadian government and European Union, as well as Caribbean nations served by Air Transat, are closing national borders to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Multiple AirAsia subsidiaries have announced the suspension of services due to multiple travel bans.
AirAsia’s Philippines subsidiary announced the cancellation of all international and domestic flights from March 20 to April 14. The move came following a Philippine government directive halting air travel in the country to prevent a coronavirus spread.
AirAsia India will also be suspending operations from March 25 as the Indian government moved to close down domestic airspace.
Austrian Airlines announced a temporary suspension of flights for a 10-day period starting March 18.
The airline was the first in the Lufthansa Group to entirely suspend operations, with its last flight operating from Chicago to Vienna on Wednesday night.
South American carrier Avianca announced the suspension of all flights starting March 25. The carrier is speeding up a previously planned drawdown of service, grounding its passenger fleet until April 12.
Romania’s Blue Air announced the suspension of all passenger operations as its home country instituted a state of emergency due to the spread of COVID-19. Scheduled flights are expected to resume in mid-April with emergency charter flights operating until then.
Brussels Airlines, one of the smallest national airlines in the Lufthansa Group, announced it will be suspending operations between March 21 and April 19.
The suspension comes as the European Union has voted to close external borders and various countries within the political bloc have experienced outbreaks of COVID-19 that have decimated the demand for travel.
Cabo Verde Airlines
Cabo Verde Airlines announced it will be suspending all flights for at least 30 days as its archipelagic homeland attempts to shield itself from the novel coronavirus.
The newly-rebranded airline situated in Cape Verde off of the coast of Africa had recently implemented a strategy based on connecting the continents of North America, South America, Africa, and Europe via Cape Verde.
Cayman Airways is suspending operations as the Cayman Islands government has announced the closure of Owen Roberts International Airport and Charles Kirkconnell International Airport for international passenger flights from March 22.
The closure will remain in effect until April 12 and affect the majority of Cayman’s operations.
Cebu Pacific Air
Cebu Pacific Air announced all flights will be canceled between March 19 and April 12. The low-cost airline joins other Philippines airlines in canceling flights in the country per government mandate.
Comair – British Airways
South Africa’s British Airways franchisee Comair is suspending operations per presidential directive on March 26. Comair along with subsidiary carrier Kulula will be grounding flights until April 19.
Copa Airlines said in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the airline is planning to reduce capacity by 80% in April. The airline, based in Panama at the crossroads of the Americas, primarily connects passengers transiting between the two continents as well as Central America.
The airline later announced the full suspension of operations per Panamanian government restrictions on international travel. Copa will be grounded until April 22 starting on March 23.
CSA Czech Airlines
CSA Czech Airlines announced it will be canceling all flights to its hub in Prague as the Czech government is closing its borders and preventing citizens from traveling abroad.
The government ban in an attempt to prevent an outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the Czech Republic is scheduled to remain in effect from March 16 until April 11.
EgyptAir announced the suspension of operations due to Egyptian government closures of airports in the North African country. Egyptian air traffic will be restricted until the end of March.
Emirates announced that passenger flights from March 25 will be suspended per a UAE government directive prohibiting passenger flights. The Dubai-based mega carrier did not specify when flights will resume.
Etihad Airways announced all passenger flights will be suspended as the UAE attempts to curb the spread of COVID-19 by restricting passenger traffic. The Abu Dhabi-based carrier said the situation will be re-evaluated in two weeks following the mandate taking effect.
Moldova’s FlyOne will be suspending all operations until the end of March, the airline announced on Monday, per a government mandate to restrict air travel.
Flights are scheduled to resume on April 1.
UAE low-cost carrier Flydubai will be suspending operations per a government mandate restricting air travel in the country. The suspension will remain in effect from March 25 to April 7.
Indigo is temporarily ceasing operations as Indian airspace is closing on March 25, according to a government press release. The closure affects all of India’s airlines and foreign airlines flying to or through the subcontinent.
The UK’s Jet2.com announced the suspension of all flights until the end of April. The leisure airline connects secondary cities in the UK with leisure destinations across Europe, notably to Spain where cases of COVID-19 have risen sharply.
Multiple divisions of Asian-Pacific low-cost airline group Jetstar will be suspending operations. Jetstar Asia announced on Wednesday it will be suspending flights for three weeks from March 23 to April 15.
The Singapore-based airline was initially impacted by the initial outbreak of coronavirus as it suspended flights to mainland China and is now citing further travel restrictions imposed by national governments.
South African low-cost carrier Kulula is suspending operations per presidential directive on March 26. Kulula along with parent carrier Comair announced the grounding of flights will last until April 19.
Kuwait Airways announced the indefinite suspension of flights in line with a government mandate banning international flights to Kuwait.
The city-state was among the first in the Middle East to begin restricting access at the start of the COVID-19 spread outside of China, particularly when it reached Iran.
French boutique airline La Compagnie announced that it would be suspending operations until the president’s travel restrictions are lifted. The entirely business-class airline operates two routes from the French cities of Paris and Nice to Newark, New Jersey.
La Compagnie expects to resume operations once the ban expires with one daily flight between Newark and Paris on April 15 while pushing back the launch of seasonal Newark-Nice service until June 1.
Ryanair subsidiary Lauda announced the suspension of operations until April 30. The airline’s parent company Ryanair has nearly grounded the entirety of its fleet, offering its services for relief flights.
LOT Polish Airlines
LOT Polish Airlines announced the suspension of its operations in Poland and Hungary following a directive from the Polish government to close its borders in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19. The Polish flag carrier primarily operates flights from a base in Warsaw with a secondary base in Budapest, Hungary.
Flights are planned to cease on March 29 and resume on April 12.
Luxembourg’s Luxair is suspending flight operations for nearly a month’s time starting March 24. The airline’s home country sits between France and Germany, where COVID-19 cases began to rise following the virus’ spread to Europe via Italy.
Middle Eastern Airlines
Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines is be suspending operations from March 19, the airline announced, as the Lebanese government attempts to prevent the larger outbreak of coronavirus in its borders.
The number of cases remains low in the country but neighboring Jordan and Israel have already taken drastic measures to prevent outbreaks.
Montenegro Airlines will be canceling all flights until April 1, Reuters reported, as its home country attempts to prevent a coronavirus outbreak.
The country is one of many in Europe taking similar actions by restricting access to its borders.
Philippine Airlines announced a temporary suspension of all flights until mid-April. Domestic flights had previously been suspended with international flight suspensions taking effect on March 26.
The cancellations are in response to a directive from the Philippine government, which has implemented strict measures regarding travel since the first outbreak in Wuhan, China in an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus.
Porter Airlines announced that it will be suspending operations until June as Canada and the US agreed to close their border and the Canadian government is advising self-isolation.
The Canadian regional airline primarily operates flights in eastern Canada as well as transborder services from Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport.
Kazakhstan’s Qazaq Air announced the suspension of operations until the end of March following a government state of emergency restricting flights in the country. The mandate affects all Kazakhstan airlines.
Royal Air Maroc
Morocco’s Royal Air Maroc announced the indefinite suspension of all its flights from March 21. The flag carrier of the North African country, a popular tourist destination, is suspending the flights due to a government mandate.
Royal Jordanian Airlines
Royal Jordanian Airlines announced it would suspend all of its flights from Amman starting on March 17, becoming the first Middle Eastern airline to temporarily cease flying due to the spread of the virus. The suspension will remain in effect until the end of March.
The Jordanian flag carrier was forced to cancel the flights as the kingdom attempts to prevent an outbreak within its borders, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Africa’s RwandAir announced the suspension of flights for a month’s period starting on March 20. The move came following a government mandate restricting flights into the country.
Ecuador’s TAME announced the suspension of all flights for a two-week period beginning March 17. The South American country has been proactive in restricting international visitors, going as far as to place vehicles on the runway at Guayaquil’s main airport to prevent landing aircraft.
South Africa’s SA Express announced that it will be suspending all of its flights beginning March 18. The state-owned airline did not state when flights would resume.
India’s SpiceJet is temporarily ceasing operations as Indian airspace is closing on March 25, according to a government press release. The closure affects all of India’s airlines and foreign airlines flying to or through the subcontinent.
Taiwan’s Starlux Airlines is suspending operations, One Mile at a Time reported, as the airline temporarily discontinues its sole route between Taipei and Da Nang, Vietnam.
The newly-established airline had suspended its other routes at the beginning of the outbreak and was down to only one route before the decision was made to suspend the service.
Canada’s Sunwing Airlines has announced that it will be suspending flights between March 17 and April 9.
The suspension comes as Canada is largely closing its borders amid fears of a coronavirus outbreak.
Thai Lion Air
Thai Lion Air announced the suspension of flights starting March 25 until mid-April. The move comes following a government mandate restricting both domestic and international flights.
Franco-Dutch low-cost airline Transavia, a member of the Air France-KLM Group, will be suspending operations indefinitely, reported La Tribune.
The bi-national airline group announced a large scale back in operations that saw a reduction of flights for both Air France and KLM, as well as regional airlines offering flights on the airlines’ behalf.
Ukraine International Airlines
Ukraine International Airlines announced all flights across its network will be suspended until April 3, with the exception of chartered repatriation flights. The move comes as the Ukraine government closed its borders to non-residents.
Uzbekistan Airways announced that all international flights operated by the airline will be suspended from March 17 until April 5.
The move comes per the Uzbekistan government after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the country.
India’s Vistara is temporarily ceasing operations as Indian airspace is closing on March 25, according to a government press release. The closure affects all of India’s airlines and foreign airlines flying to or through the subcontinent.
Yemen’s Yemenia announced the suspension of flights for a period of two weeks starting March 18.
The suspension came per a Yemeni government mandate restricting flights to the Middle Eastern country.
South Africa’s Airlink is suspending operations from March 28 until April 20, according to its website. Domestic services within South Africa, in which the airline specializes, have been greatly impacted by the government implementing three-week travel restrictions lasting into late-April.
UK low-cost carrier EasyJet has grounded its entire fleet, the BBC reported, as Europe remains on lockdown. Over 300 of the carrier’s planes have been grounded in the UK where cases of the virus are skyrocketing and even affecting the country’s leaders and royalty.
The Caribbean’s Winair has suspended all flights until at least April 6, according to its website. The carrier primarily provides short-haul intra-island flights to various Caribbean islands with a notable base in Dutch Sint Maarten.
Australian low-cost airline Tigerair Australia is suspending flights entirely as government restrictions impede its operation. The suspension was announced by the airline, a subsidiary of Virgin Australia, on March 31 with no relaunch date as of yet.
Turkey’s SunExpress is suspending operations until the end of April. The announcement came as the Turkish government introduced travel restrictions on domestic and international flights affecting numerous airlines in the country.
Bahamasair has suspended operations indefinitely, the airline’s website reported, in an attempt to mitigate a spread of COVID-19 to the Bahamas. The archipelagic nation just 60 miles from South Florida is a popular tourist destination for North Americans and Europeans, two citizenries heavily affected by the virus.
El Al Israel Airlines
El Al Israel Airlines is suspending flights between March 27 and April 4, the Israeli flag carrier announced on its website.
The government of Israel has been struggling to contain the novel coronavirus as the country is a popular destination for tourists and religious pilgrims, with numerous travel restrictions being implemented by the government to prevent a worse outbreak.
Canada’s Harbour Air is suspending operations for the entire month of April, according to its website, with plans to relaunch operations on May 4. The move comes as Canada is tightening its self-isolation and stay at home restrictions to prevent a viral outbreak.
Zimbabwean low-cost carrier Fastjet Zimbabwe is suspending operations until mid-April, the airline announced. FlightGlobal reported that neighboring South Africa’s travel restrictions took a large toll on Fastjet’s operation and contributed to the suspension.