Air Canada suspends direct flights from YVR, Canadian airports to China

The suspension follows the federal government's travel advisory to avoid travelling to China due to the coronavirus outbreak

Air Canada is suspending all direct flights from Vancouver International Airport, as well as Toronto and Montreal, to Beijing and Shanghai for one month. 

The last of the direct flights will depart Canadian airports Wednesday, with the returning flights leaving Beijing and Shanghai Thursday, Jan. 30, according to the airline. 

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Flights will then be suspended until Feb. 29.

"Affected customers will be notified and offered options, including travel on other carriers where available, or a full refund," reads Air Canada's announcement.

"Air Canada regrets this situation and apologizes for the serious disruption to our customers' travel plans."

The airline said it is suspending flights in accordance with the federal government's travel avisory.

That advisory warns Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel to mainland China due to travel restrictions and quarantines there, which have been put in place to limit the spread of novel coronavirus.

The travel advisory also says to avoid all travel to Hubei province, including Wuhan and the nearby cities of Huanggang and Ezhou. 

Other airlines, including British Airways and several Asian carriers, have also halted flights to China. 

Air Canada said it is closely monitoring the evolving situtation in consultation with the Public Health Agency of Canada, Transport Canada and Global Affairs, adding it will adjust its schedule as needed. 

During the winter season, YVR typically has 52 flights per week to mainland China to nine different cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, according to a spokesperson for the airport. In addition to the two direct routes flown by Air Canada, these flights are operated by Air China and other Chinese airlines.  

The Richmond News has asked Air Canada how many of the suspended flights are operated out of YVR. 

Coronavirus has now infected more than 6,000 people — with three confirmed cases in Canada — and caused 132 deaths in China, still lower than the 349 people who were killed by Sars in China in 2002 - 2003. 

On Tuesday, B.C. confirmed its first case of coronavirus  a man in his 40s who lives in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, which stretches from Richmond to Sea-to-Sky and Bella Coola. 

The Canadian resident travelled to Wuhan, where the virus originated a few weeks ago, according to provincial health officials, and returned via Vancouver International Airport last week. He is currently being monitored, in isolation, at his home. 

Canada announced Wednesday that it has a plane being prepared to fly Canadians out of Wuhan, once the government secures co-operation from China.  

  • With files from Alan Campbell and the Canadian Press

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