Royal Caribbean, British Airways Cancels Sailings and Flights Due to Coronavirus

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. reports that it has cancelled three sailings through February 8 on Spectrum of the Seas due to the spread of the coronavirus, which is currently its only ship homeported in China. The company made the announcement as part of the release of the date for its fourth quarter earnings call. 

Royal Caribbean said that these cancellations, which include Chinese New Year cruises, will impact its financial results by $0.10 per share, with an additional impact of $0.10 per share if travel restrictions in China continue until the end of February. 

“There are still too many variables and uncertainties regarding this outbreak to calculate the overall impact on the business,” the company said in a written statement. “For example, we expect an erosion of consumer confidence in China could have an additional impact on load factor and rate in the region until the market normalizes. If these travel restrictions continue for an extended period of time, they could have a material impact on the overall financial performance of the company.”

Spectrum of the Seas is Royal Caribbean’s only ship to homeport in China for the winter season. Two additional ships are scheduled to join in May and July 2020. For all of 2020, China represents approximately 6 percent of the company’s capacity, Royal Caribbean said. 

Late Tuesday, Holland America Line, as reported by our sister publication Travel Agent, announced that it will shift Westerdam from Shanghai to Yokohama (Tokyo), Japan, and Costa Cruises announced a number of updates to its passenger screening policies. 

Air Travel

British Airways reports that it has suspended all of its flights to and from Beijing and Shanghai through Friday, January 31, as it assesses the situation. Flights to and from Hong Kong remain unaffected. British Airways said that it will rebook passengers on cancelled flights on other carriers or, if they can safely get to Hong Kong, the airline will change their flight to fly between London and Hong Kong. Passengers whose flight has not been cancelled and are scheduled to fly between January 31 and February 23 can rebook on another British Airways flight to the same destination, or request a refund. 

Air China will issue refunds for all flights booked before midnight on January 28. 

China Airlines is offering passengers who file an application by March 31 the option to rebook without a change fee or difference in tax and far, or a full refund. 

American Airlines is offering travelers scheduled to fly to Wuhan through March 31 a refund for all unflown segments of their trip. Customers scheduled to fly through Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong through February 29 can rebook through March 31 between the same city pair in the same cabin (or pay the difference). The airline will also waive change or cancellation fees for rebookings beyond February 29 and up to 331 after the original ticket date, so long as rebooking is made by February 29, but a difference in fare may apply. 

United Airlines is offering refunds to travelers scheduled to fly through Wuhan who booked by January 22 and who are scheduled to fly through March 29. Travelers scheduled to fly through Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai or Hong Kong through February 29 can also rebook through that date with no change fee or fare difference so long as they fly between the original city pair in the original cabin. For wholly rescheduled travel departing after March 31, or for a change in departure or destination city, the change fee will be waived, but a difference in fare may apply, the airline said. 

Delta is offering travelers scheduled to fly through Beijing and Shanghai through February 29 the chance to rebook through March 31 with no change fee or difference in fare, so long as travel is between the original city pair. When changing the originally ticketed cities or rebooking for travel beyond March 31, a difference in fare may apply. Customers can also opt to cancel their flights and apply any unused value of the ticket toward the purchase of a new ticket for one year from the original issue date. A change fee and any difference in fare will apply. 

A number of tourist attractions in mainland China and Hong Kong are also shut down:

  • The Great Wall at Jinshanling in Beijing,
  • Great Wall (Mutianyu Section) in Beijing
  • The Ming Tombs in Beijing
  • Gubei Water Town in Beijing
  • Prince Gong's Mansion in Beijing
  • Forest of Stone Steles Museum in Xian
  • The Ancient City Walls in Xian
  • Wuzheng and most sites in Hangzhou
  • Huangpu River Cruise in Shanghai
  • Mogao Caves in Dunhuang
  • Shanghai Disneyland 
  • Hong Kong Disneyland Park
  • Ocean Park Hong Kong
  • Noah’s Ark Hong Kong
  • Madame Tussauds Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong Wetland Park
  • The Ngong Ping 360 cable car service
  • Museums under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department
  • Facilities of the Antiquities and Monuments Office

As of Wednesday morning, Chinese officials have confirmed nearly 6,000 cases of the coronavirus, including cases in Thailand, Hong Kong, the United States, Taiwan, Australia, Macau, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Japan, France, Canada, Vietnam, Nepal, Cambodia, Germany and the United Arab Emirates, The New York Times reports. The cases recorded in Taiwan, German, Vietnam and Japan involved patients who had not been to China, meaning that the virus is beginning to spread between people outside of China. There have been 132 deaths thus far due to the illness, all of which have been in China. 

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