February 26, 2020
Laos’ national airline, the Lao Airlines State Enterprise, will suspend flights to the Republic of Korea beginning in March after a large number of passengers cancelled their bookings amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Director of the airline’s Commercial Department, Mr Noudeng Chanthaphasouk, told Vientiane Times that a flight from Vientiane to Seoul did not depart on Tuesday because all the passengers cancelled their reservations.
“We have very few passengers on the Vientiane to Seoul flight. We have to fly back to Vientiane empty because many Koreans have stopped travelling overseas since the outbreak of Covid-19 in China,” he added.
“Meanwhile, we fly from Vientiane to Seoul once daily and have to bear the high cost of flying empty, so we plan to suspend the Vientiane-Seoul route from next month.”
“We cannot say when this flight will resume because we will have to wait until the situation in Korea returns to normal,” he said.
Following the Covid-19 outbreak in China, Lao Airlines suspended almost all flights from Laos to China earlier this month.
Lao Airlines has nine routes to China – from Vientiane to Kunming, Guangzhou, Changsha, Chengdu, Changzhou, Shanghai and Wenzhou, and from Luang Prabang to Jinghong and Changsha. Flights from Vientiane and Luang Prabang to Changsha are still operational.
“We expect that some routes from Laos to China, including Vientiane to Chengdu, will resume next month as we are in informal discussions with the related sectors,” Mr Noudeng said.
According to the Korea Herald, Korean Airlines Co., the country’s biggest airline, plans to gradually begin halting service on routes to Asian cities, including the Busan-Taipei route, in late February, while cutting the number of flights on the Incheon-Guam route and to 14 other destinations worldwide.
Faced with lower demand from China and on other international routes, Korean Air has suspended 20 of its 30 scheduled flights to China, while reducing the number of flights on eight routes and maintaining service on two routes.
Asiana Airlines Inc. asked all of its 10,500 employees this week to take turns going on 10 days of unpaid leave so the company can cut costs.
Starting from this month, Asiana halted six routes to China, reduced flights on 15 routes and has kept five routes intact. The airline has reduced the number of flights on five routes from Incheon to Bangkok and Hanoi starting on Monday, according to the Korea Herald.