Air France KLM suspends Taipei-Paris service temporarily


PARIS (CNA) — In the wake of the escalating spread of the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19, Air France-KLM announced Tuesday that it is stopping flights between Taipei and Paris and services to Hong Kong, while reducing flights to other cities in Asia and Europe.

Following a drop in passenger numbers amid the COVID-19 scare, Air France has suspended its services between Taipei and Paris, and between Hong Kong and Paris, with the suspension set to continue until March 29.

Air France-KLM said the contagion has also forced the carrier to cut flights to Seoul and Singapore from seven to four and five a week, respectively, until April 12.

The carrier has also cut the number of flights to Italy and Israel, citing the impact of the virus contagion.

In addition, Air France-KLM said it has decided to extend the suspension of services to Shanghai and Beijing to March 28. The suspension started on Jan. 30 due an outbreak of the virus in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of December.

According to the carrier, its passenger numbers fell in February, reflecting the suspension of all flights to and from China. Air France-KLM said its passenger numbers are expected to fall further over the next few months as the contagion continues, prompting more consumers to avoid traveling.

The carrier said it expects to cancel about 3,600 flights in March, adding the number of long haul flights will be cut by 13 percent, while flights to European cities outside France will be reduced by 25 percent and services inside France will be cut by 17 percent in the month.

So far, more than 113,000 people have been infected with the virus worldwide, with about 4,000 deaths, the majority in China.

Outside China, where official tallies show the growth of confirmed cases has slowed, infections in countries such as Italy and the United States are on the rise, triggering a new wave of fears over the spread of the virus.

In Italy, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has announced a total lockdown of the country, with 60 million residents facing restrictions such as travel checks and school closures.