Taiwan airlines suspending flights to Europe, US due to COVID-19

CNA file photo

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan’s two major carriers said Sunday they will suspend some flights to the United States and Europe, since airline crew and travelers arriving from those areas are required to observe either a 14-day self-quarantine or self-health management regime, due to the escalation of the COVID-19 outbreak.

In a statement, EVA Airways said it will adjust the frequency of its flights to Europe starting Monday, based on travel demand and the work rotation of its flight crew.

Taiwan’s other major carrier, China Airlines (CAL), also announced Sunday that it will be suspending some of its long-haul flights over the next 20 days, including those to New York, Los Angeles, Brisbane, Sydney, Auckland and Vienna.

The flight suspensions followed a decision by Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) Saturday to raise its travel alert for 27 European countries to a Level 3 warning, the highest on its three-tier scale.

In its Level 3 warning, the CECC advised potential travelers to avoid any unnecessary trips to the United Kingdom and the 26 member states in the Schengen border-free area, citing the escalation of the COVID-19 outbreak in Europe.

Though the warning does not take effect until March 17, passengers and flight crew arriving in Taiwan from the 27 countries are now required to self-quarantine for 14 days, during which their health will be monitored through daily phone calls, according to the CECC.

The countries are the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Slovakia, Slovenia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Greece, Malta, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein.

The CECC has also issued a Level 2 travel warning for U.S. states of Washington, New York and California, and a Level 1 advisory for the other 47 states in the U.S.

Visitors traveling to the areas under a Level 2 alert are advised to take personal prevention measures against infection, while a Level 1 advisory suggests that travelers observe the response regulations pertaining to COVID-19 in the countries, according to the CECC.

In addition, passengers arriving from countries and areas under a Level 1 or 2 travel alert are required to conduct 14 days of self-health management by minimizing time spent in public, wearing a face mask and checking their temperature twice daily.

In the wake of the CECC’s announcements, EVA’s website showed that it had canceled one of its daily flights between Taipei and Paris — the flight on March 17. Since mid-February, the airline has reduced its flights between Taiwan and Los Angeles to two per day, instead of three, on an irregular basis, its website showed.

Meanwhile, some foreign airlines have also been reducing their service on the Taiwan route.

The website of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines indicates that its daily flights between Amsterdam to Taipei have been suspended, although the carrier has not made any formal announcements. On Saturday, a KLM pilot was confirmed to have contracted COVID-19, becoming Taiwan’s 51st case.

Another foreign carrier, Air France, on March 10 suspended all of it flights to Taiwan, saying it plans to gradually resume service from March 29, if circumstances allow.

As of Sunday, Taiwan had 59 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 32 of which were classified as imported.