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Report: Trump considering suspending all China flights as deadly coronavirus spreads

An American Airlines plane. (Dreamstime/TNS)
January 29, 2020

President Donald Trump’s administration is considering stopping all nonessential U.S. flights to China amid the deadly Wuhan coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 100 people.

The suspension on U.S. flights bound for China has received ongoing consideration in the White House, according to an unnamed official who disclosed the matter to USA Today late Tuesday. That official insisted the Trump administration had not reached a decision, despite some reports it had called individual airlines to brief them on a flight ban.

“The White House did not call the airlines and hasn’t asked for a suspension of flights between the U.S. and China,” that official told USA Today.

The U.S. government did arrange an evacuation flight to get U.S. diplomats and other citizens out of the coronavirus epicenter of Wuhan.

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) did raise its China travel advisory to the highest warning level on Monday. The Level 3 Warning by the CDC recommended travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China.

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Separately, U.S.-based airline companies, including United and American Airlines, have already suspended some flights to China, according to a separate USA Today report.

“Given the significant decline in demand for travel to and from China, American Airlines will suspend travel between Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Shanghai Pudong Airport (PVG) as well as LAX and Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) from Feb. 9 through Mar. 27, 2020,” American Airlines said in an emailed statement to American Military News.

The airline provided a travel advisory detailing its policy for allowing customers to make changes to trips in Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong. The advisory also provided a refund options for flights bound for Wuhan.

A United Airlines travel advisory similarly listed refund options for flights to Wuhan, and other destinations in mainland China. The airline also allowed for change fees to be waived for travel bound for Hong Kong.

Delta Airlines, which also has flights through to China, posted an advisory with options for its passengers that included canceling their flight and having the value of the ticket transferred to the purchase of another ticket for up to a year. The airline also provided options for travelers to change their flight details.

In China, the coronavirus outbreak has continued to worsen. As of Monday, the death toll from the virus had risen to 80 with around 2,500 more cases confirmed. Chinese Chairman Xi Jinping and other government officials have warned that the virus has accelerated.

Cases have also reached beyond China, on to Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam, France, Australia, Malaysia, Nepal, Canada, and the U.S.

As of Sunday, the U.S. had confirmed and isolated five separate cases of coronavirus.