China in virtual aviation isolation over coronavirus

With China in almost complete aviation quarantine, some airlines have been far more reluctant to do the right thing for the right reasons.

Aviation is the quickest way to spread a virus and it’s taken a lot of airlines a lot longer than it should have to buckle down and stop flights.

Qatar Airways has been quite disingenuous for example, only cancelling flights because rules in countries like the US prevent air crew flying there if they have been to China in the last 14 days. Rather than prevent the spread, they stopped flying because they couldn’t roster crew effectively by flying there.

Qantas has been slow to finally cut links, Cathay Dragon is still flying into China – despite medical staff going on strike in Hong Kong to demand the border is closed before the virus gets into the densely populated city.

The biggest problem is that the virus gets into a country that doesn’t have the complex and quick reaction facilities of major western and other wealthy nations.

It’s for that reason many of the African nations from Ethiopia to South Africa have cut air links for the duration.

Countries like the U.K. have been remarkably quick to cut air links although some 200 people have now been recovered from Wuhan and are in quarantine near Liverpool.

For many airlines, especially the smaller ones like Finnair who’s entire long haul business is about Europe to Asia flying, with China almost a third of its business, this is a very costly event they didn’t plan for.

It’s also noticeable that US major were quite slow to wind down links, being forced to only as the US Administration tightened entry requirements for travellers.

For some airlines it’s all about the money rather than public safety it seems.

Yet China itself – where cases of the virus are growing sharply every day, still hasn’t completely shut down aviation, although it is conducting health checks and screening at most airports.