British Airways has quietly started to zero all all availability for their China-bound flights overnight with the first availability being March 1, 2020 and has officially cancelled all flights through January 31st.
At the moment all that is visible is that flights can no longer be purchased for the entire month of February and these flights are subject to cancellation as well while the situation is under review.
Last night (January 28th 2020) the Foreign and Commonwealth office has officially updated their travel warning and is currently advising against all but essential travel to China.
In light of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the Foreign & Commonwealth now advises against ‘all but essential’ travel to mainland China.
British people currently in China should make decisions based on their own personal circumstances, bearing in mind that travel may become more difficult in the coming days.
Commercial options for departing China remain available except in Hubei Province. The Foreign Office is working to finalise arrangements for evacuating British nationals from Hubei.
Any British nationals with questions or concerns should contact our helpline (+44) (0)207 008 1500.
British people should consider whether they judge that travelling to or staying in China is essential.
British nationals who require assistance can contact the FCO to speak to a member of staff.
This advice refers to mainland China. It excludes Hong Kong and Macau.
Following this announcement by the British Government British Airways appears to have initiated steps to first zero out all flights to China which means it’s impossible to book or rebook to any flights in until at least March 1, 2020.
Availability display until February 29th – zeroed out:
Following Foreign Office advice against all but essential travel to mainland China we have temporarily suspended our flights to and from Beijing and Shanghai with immediate effect, until Friday 31 January, while we assess the situation.
Flights to and from Hong Kong remain unaffected.
So the February flights are not yet officially cancelled but BA has suspended any commercial availability which means passengers can’t book anymore tickets for these flights right now. The likely want to keep the loads light so if the carrier decides that the cancellations stretch deep into February than less people will be affected and BA has less work/expenses in terms of rebookings etc.
Two days ago I published a list of airlines that currently have a travel waiver in place for China flights.
The governments of the United States and Japan are currently repatriating citizens onboard a chartered Aircraft of Kalitta Air from Wuhan and such evacuation measures are likely continuing in the next few days/weeks.
I’m expecting many other governments will now follow suit and publish a similar travel warning which will subsequently lead to their national airlines starting to thin out their schedule or cancel flights entirely. Usually with travel warnings it’s like a domino game, once the first government has made a decision most others will follow.
This situation is escalating quickly and while it’s hard to judge the facts of the situation from a laymens perspective it’s quite scary that the number of infected patients are now believed to have surpassed those of SARS in 2002/2003 in a much shorter time span.