Shanghai-based Juneyao Airlines will delay the launch of three new transcontinental routes from Shanghai to Dublin, Manchester and Reykjavik, all with a stop in Helsinki, which it initially planned to launch in late March this year.

In a statement posted on its official Facebook account, the airline said it has decided to postpone the launch of these three routes until further notice “with careful consideration”, because the recent novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak has resulted in “a significant impact” for its passengers.

“This has been a very hard decision for us, as we were excited at the prospect of strengthening the links between Europe and China,” said the airline in the statement.

As of writing, according to South China Morning Post, the coronavirus outbreak, which originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, has infected nearly 80,000 people across the globe and resulted in more than 2,500 deaths.

According to the airline’s official Weibo account, it initially planned to launch a twice-weekly Shanghai-Helsinki-Dublin service on Thursdays and Sundays from March 29; a thrice-weekly Shanghai-Helsinki-Manchester service on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from March 30; and a twice-weekly Shanghai-Helsinki-Reykjavik service on Tuesdays and Saturdays from March 31.

The airline said it “remains committed to the European market”, and will return “when the time is right”.

The airline added in its statement on Weibo that it’s also preparing for new routes from Shanghai to Athens and Istanbul, which it plans to launch in June this year.

Currently, the airline continues to operate flights between Shanghai and Helsinki, though it has reduced the flight frequency from February 22 to June 30. From February 22 to March 28, the airline will only fly this route once a week every Saturday. Between March 29 to June 30, the airline will operate three weekly flights on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Then from July 1 to October 24 this year, the airline plans to resume daily service on this route.

Juneyao Airlines launched the daily Shanghai-Helsinki service in June last year, codesharing with Finnair. This is the airline’s first transcontinental route.

Juneyao Airlines joined Star Alliance as its first Connecting Partner in 2017, which allows frequent flyer members of Star Alliance to earn and spend miles with it.