See More on Facebook


Aviation, travel industries bear brunt of coronavirus outbreak

South Korean aviation and travel industries have been hit hard by refunds and cancellations in response to the new Chinese coronavirus outbreak, according to the industry on Tuesday.

Written by

Updated: January 28, 2020

Several airlines have suspended the operation of routes to China and fully refunded customers for reservations, without applying the usual surcharge.
The travel authorities and related businesses have also strengthened hygiene guidelines for their employees, such as obligating all cabin crew on flights and workers in duty-free stores to wear masks.
On Tuesday, Asiana Airlines’ low cost carrier Air Seoul said it would temporarily halt all services to China, including the Incheon-Zhangjiajie and Incheon-Linyi routes.
“We decided to temporarily suspend the operation of Chinese routes considering the seriousness of the coronavirus infection and for the passengers’ safety,” Air Seoul said in a statement.
It is the first airline here to halt all services to China.
The air carrier has been flying flights to Zhangiajie three times a week and to Linyi twice a week.
Following the Transport Ministry’s decision Thursday to suspend all Incheon-Wuhan flights until the end of January, Korean Air and T’Way said they had stopped their operation of flights to Wuhan until Jan. 31 and late February, respectively.
Other air carriers are reportedly reviewing whether to suspend additional Chinese routes out of concern.
“As the situation is urgent, it is possible for air carriers to add to the Chinese routes subject to suspension, despite the routes’ profitability,” an industry insider told The Korea Herald.
While Jeju Air said it has suspended operation of Busan-Zhangiajie and Muan-Zhangiajie routes, Eastar Jet has also decided to halve its operation of the Cheongju-Zhangiajie route.
For passengers’ convenience, airlines said they also decided to fully refund passenger’s tickets to China, without any charge.
The country’s major airlines Korean Air and Asiana Airlines, as well as budget carriers Jeju Air, Eastar Jet, Jin Air, T’Way, Air Busan and Air Seoul said they were offering full refunds on tickets to China or exempting all fees for destination or schedule changes.
Chinese air carriers that operate routes to Korea — China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Air China — have also decided to cancel all charges for ticket refunds.
Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific said it would also exempt fees for ticket refunds or route changes for flights arriving or departing China before Feb. 29.
Meanwhile, the country’s major travel agencies such as HanaTour and Mode Tour have said they are also waiving fees for cancellations of trips to China.
Reservations for up to 3,000 people per agency have been cancelled, industry insiders said, despite the low reservation rate for trips to China in the off season.
Other market insiders said due to the local customers’ concerns over staying at hotels where Chinese tourists frequently stay in Korea, up to 15 percent of reservations at a hotel in Jeju have been cancelled.
The Transport Ministry is also set to advise airlines to obligate cabin crews on all flights to wear masks, despite previous hesitation of such a measure further fanning anxiety, according to Yonhap News.
Currently, Air Jeju and T’way have allowed flight attendants on all the flights to wear masks while bigger airlines have selectively allowed them for those working flights connected to China and surrounding regions.
Duty free operators are also taking measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
Lotte Duty Free created an emergency team on Friday and has ordered a set of response measures to be carried out by its employees, the company said Tuesday.
Following the responsive measures, all employees are obliged to take their body temperatures every day, and anyone showing signs of fever would be sent home for medical checkup.
The company said it also has mandated all employees working in the duty-free stores to wear face masks, installed more hand sanitizers in the stores, and will also fumigate the stores twice a week.
In addition, the company ordered all employees who visit China to take 14 days holiday after they return.
“Lotte Duty Free puts the safety of customers and employees as our priority, and we will come up with quick additional measures to deal with the changing situation,” Lee Gap, CEO of Lotte Duty Free said.
Shilla Duty Free also said it is running a task force to deal with the coronavirus. The company started operating thermal imaging cameras at the entrances of its headquarters, advised its employees to wear face masks and also provides masks to visiting customers.
The duty-free operator said it would reinforce the daily disinfection process it conducts at least once a day, and designate times for all employees to take their temperatures twice a day.

Enjoyed this story? Share it.

About the Author: ANN’s Board member Mr Zaffar Abbas, Editor of Pakistan’s Dawn has won the 2019 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protest Journalists.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia

Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.

By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here


Taiwan: 720,000 people registered for purchasing face masks online

Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Friday announced that more than 722,000 people — 600,000 using the NHI app and 122,000 more using the Emask system — had successfully registered for purchasing face masks as of 1 p.m. Asked about people who have reportedly tried to register again, CECC Chief Commander Chen Shih-chung called on the public to stop, stressing that authorities are committed to providing a set of face masks to each user prior to March 18, the official deadline for registration. Regarding some reported phone scams on payment requirements for face masks, Chen asked users to remain vigilant. Access is limited to Taiwan residents who need to register their NHI number, obtain proper digital certification and downloa

By Asia News Network
March 13, 2020


Covid-19 outbreak will continue for a year or longer; more stringent measures may need to be put in place, says PM Lee

 In a video address on his social media channels, PM Lee emphasised that the situation in Singapore remains under control. The Covid-19 outbreak will continue for some time – a year, and maybe longer – said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his second national address on the situation on Thursday (March 12). But if Singaporeans keep up their guard and take practical precautions, the country will be able to keep its economy going and people will be able to carry on with their daily lives, he said. In a video address on his social media channels, PM Lee emphasised that the situation in Singapore remains under control. The disease outbreak response level will not be stepped up to red, the highest level, he said. It is c

By The Straits Times
March 13, 2020


Foreigners play their part in Shanghai’s epidemic prevention

 Expat volunteers have been active in helping the city overcome the COVID-19 outbreak. Twelve foreign residents in Shanghai have joined a volunteer team to help with the city’s COVID-19 prevention and control. Located in Minhang district, the team was established on Feb 10 by the Jinfeng International Community Development Association, which aims to promote the development of Huacao town and the Jinfeng International Community by organising themed activities and public welfare events. Pakistani Amir Shafiq Khan joined the team to give back. “It’s easy to run away to another country, but I felt that my family and I should contribute to China in this difficult time as it has always offered opportunities to us,” says Khan, who has lived in

By China Daily
March 13, 2020


Asian stock markets take cue from US to hit fresh lows

ST Index careens into bear territory for the first time since January 2016 Many stock markets across Asia, including in Singapore, followed the United States into bear territory after US President Donald Trump stopped short of offering a detailed rescue package as the coronavirus outbreak was declared a global pandemic. Adding to fears, oil prices slumped further. The Straits Times Index (STI) careened into bear territory for the first time since January 2016. The last time that the STI was in a bear market – where stocks have fallen at least 20 per cent from their recent high – was during the oil price rout in 2016. The STI finished down 3.77 per cent yesterday, and more than 21 per cent down from a peak of 3,407.02 on April 29 last year.

By The Straits Times
March 13, 2020


askST: Can coronavirus be spread by sweat, or via activities such as singing?

There is currently no evidence showing that the virus can be transmitted through one’s perspiration. Concerns have been raised over social activities such as singing and exercising in the light of the coronavirus outbreak. As of Wednesday (March 11), Singapore’s largest Safra Jurong cluster of confirmed coronavirus cases went up to 40, against a total of 178 cases. The patients, who had attended a Feb 15 Chinese New Year celebration held in the ballroom of Joy Garden restaurant at Safra Jurong, are members of a Hokkien singing group. This has raised concerns as to whether the disease, known as Covid-19, can be transmitted through singing. Similar concerns have been expressed about whether the virus can be spread through sweat b

By The Straits Times
March 12, 2020


Bangladesh to benefit from coronavirus fallout: survey

Study says globally renowned companies are planning to shift work orders from China to other Asian countries, including Bangladesh. Bangladesh will benefit from the fallout of the coronavirus as most of the globally renowned companies are planning to shift work orders from China to other Asian countries, including Bangladesh, according to a new survey. Hong Kong-based QIMA, a leading provider of supply chain compliance solutions and which partners with brands, retailers and importers to secure, manage and optimise their global supply network, surveyed the executives of more than 200 globally renowned companies between February and early March. Half of the survey respondents are considering shifting supplier sourcing away from China to new countries or r

By Daily Star
March 12, 2020