Lufthansa Group Cancels All China Flights Effective January 30th After Chinese Authorities Tried To Quarantine Incoming Crew

Lufthansa Group has cancelled all China flights effective January 30th after Chinese authorities tried to quarantine the arriving crew of LH780 FRA-Nanjing yesterday.

The crew was eventually allowed to get back on the outgoing LH781 that got recalled to the gate and flew back to Germany, meanwhile the German Foreign Ministry issued a limited travel warning.

According to an internal Lufthansa crew forum the situation occurred as Chinese authorities identified one passenger of a (returning) Chinese travel group on the Frankfurt-Nanjing flight as a risk individual that could potentially be infected with the Coronavirus. As a consequence the entire crew as well as the travel group was held up at immigration and advised there would be a quarantine period.

Subsequently it was possible to negotiate with the Chinese to let the crew back on board of the outgoing LH781 Nanjing-Frankfurt. The aircraft was recalled to the gate and the crew flew back to Germany as deadhead.

Today the German Foreign Ministry issued a “Teilreisewarnung” (local-bound travel warning) which in combination with the situation in Nanjing lead Lufthansa to cancel all their China flights until further notice. Meanwhile the German government mulls to use the Bundeswehr (Armed Forces) to evacuate 90 citizens from the Wuhan region.

This is the travel warning (in German – obviously):

Seit Dezember 2019 sind in der Stadt Wuhan in der Provinz Hubei Fälle einer Lungenerkrankung aufgetreten, die wahrscheinlich mit dem Besuch eines lokalen Geflügel- und Fischmarkts in Verbindung stehen. Im Verlauf wurde eine Infektion mit einem neuartigen Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) nachgewiesen. Aktuell steigen die Fallzahlen deutlich an und es sind Todesfälle aufgetreten. Die Erkrankung breitet sich in China weiter aus. Die Quelle und Übertragungswege der Infektion sind nicht abschließend geklärt, die Übertragung von Mensch zu Mensch ist aber inzwischen wissenschaftlich gesichert.

  • Vor Reisen in die Provinz Hubei wird gewarnt.
  • Registrieren Sie sich in unserer Krisenvorsorgeliste
  • Beziehen Sie die genannten Einschränkungen in Ihre Reiseplanung ein und prüfen Sie ggf. eine vorzeitige Abreise.
  • Verschieben Sie nach Möglichkeit nicht notwendige Reisen nach China.
  • Halten Sie sich an die Anweisungen der lokalen Sicherheitskräfte.
  • Lassen Sie sich vor Reisen mit dem aktuellen Nordhalbkugelimpfstoff gegen Influenza impfen. Eine Influenza-Impfung kann zur Vermeidung unnötiger Verdachtsfälle beitragen.

 

You can access Lufthansa’s statement regarding the cancellations here.

Interestingly,  while the big German newspapers such as BILD and Handelsblatt already have this information confirmed with Lufthansa spokesperson their own website doesn’t mention the cancellations yet. Well, keeping their IT current has never been Lufthansa’s strong side.

Handelsblatt writes that Lufthansa cancels all China flights effective immediately through February 9th 2020 (for now) and that Hong Kong is not affected by this decision.

Lufthansa finally did issue information on Twitter though, however not on their main account but their pretty much unknown Lufthansa News account (not sure what purpose that serves, that account only has 32k followers, 1/10 of their main account where it’s crickets):

So the last flights from Germany to China will leave today (Wednesday, JAN 29th 2020) and return tomorrow January 30th 2020. Beyond that all flights are cancelled, yet in the reservation systems the flights are not zeroed out yet. The Lufthansa website however only sells their codeshare flights on Air China. The cancellations will last until at least February 9th 2020 with possible extensions.

Conclusion

Currently Lufthansa thinks about increasing capacity to nearby destinations like South Korea (Incheon) and possibly serving China per 5th freedom flights but thats just some brainstorming and obviously requires authorization from a bunch of different authorities.

I’m surprised that it was possible for the Lufthansa crew to negotiate with the Chinese to be let go. Let alone on a packed passenger plane. That being said, getting rid of potential problems makes it easier for the local authorities.

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