Asia Minute: Complications for Asia Regional Travel

Jan 29, 2020

Honolulu’s airport has joined the list of U.S. entry points screening passengers from Wuhan, China for the coronavirus. There are no direct flights here from Wuhan, but fast-moving developments are influencing a lot more travel to and from the country.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was contemplating a trip to China next month to check in on that “phase one” trade deal with the Beijing government. The Financial Times reports U.S. officials have now decided against that travel because of the outbreak of the coronavirus.

On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded its advisory to recommend Americans avoid all nonessential travel to the entire country of China.

Hong Kong is slashing the number of flights to and from mainland China by half. Starting tomorrow, high-speed trains and ferries that cross the border will be suspended.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Tuesday, “the flow of people between the two places needs to be drastically reduced.”

The Marshall Islands are going even further. Radio New Zealand reports it has banned all travelers coming directly from China. The country is insisting anyone coming from or transiting through China spend at least 2 weeks in a country not affected by the coronavirus.

The fall in demand is having commercial ripples for the travel industry. 

United Airlines has suspended two dozen flights from the U.S. to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong starting on Saturday — cutting its overall U.S.–China flight numbers by nearly a third.