Impact of Coronavirus on Air Travel

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  • MarcusGB

    JH 1234, thanks for that update re KUL. Also to you all for taking the time to reflect whats is happening where you are or travel through.

    I stopped over en route to Australia, at The Mandarin Oriental hotel, 31st Jan for 3 nights.
    They were excellent, and door access, into the main lobby with staff just inside, and alcogel spread across as a barrier you walked through in and out, and asked to use.
    The Head Concierge said that there were very few bookings, and it was just Chinese New Year. Many areas were eerie in the few people that were around.
    However, this was where i saw spontaneous people on the street, a district away from KLCC, selling various face masks.

    The BBC World program that i have just watched, had the statistics from IATA, that Airlines have cancelled flights to-from and within China, to over 238,000!
    If you consider Cathay in HKG, where over 40% of flights have now been cancelled they had scheduled, then take into account the hot spots for the virus emerging, the impact on Airlines and all their supply chains employees, this is huge.
    This may well happen to Italian Airlines from the areas affected, Korean based Airlines, UAE, Middle East carriers are also reducing, as well as Australian and European Airlines serving these areas.

    Now even large International Companies supplying alcoholic and soft drinks, are warning of huge downturns in business.
    People are not gathering in major World cities, eating and drinking out as normal, of course the Tourism element also here around Asia
    These are prime examples about how we need to start regarding this serious situation, well beyond the travel and tourism businesses, and impact on small businesses.

    Alcogels are also now getting difficult to find i hear in Europe at the moment, which as many mention are very effective for hygiene, unlike the lack of masks, that are driven more by hysteria, than clinical effectiveness.
    Staff in Australia Hospitals are wearing full masks, including a plastic visor covering the eyes, ears, and gloves as well as disposable protective aprons on respiratory Units. Surgical Hibiscrub or iodine are used before and after seeing each patient, then alcogels.
    WHO have stated that Masks are Not effective, only for patients to contain who are symptomatic, that must be changed often.


    Here in Yogyakarta, as of February 26th, there is little to no reaction in the malls. Despite masks – little green ones against traffic induced dust as well as N95 ones – being sold out or heavily rationed in most places, most people don’t use them.

    Malls tend to be a little less busy than usual during the week. City streets are busy with traffic both motorcycles and cars. Few people walk on sidewalks as proper ones only exist closer to the center of the city. The frequent rains common to the rainy season also discourage people from walking longer distances outside.

    Due to public officials still maintaining that Indonesia is still free of the Wuhan Flu, there is little panic in the population at large.


    I’ve not yet had the opportunity to work my way through the entire thread so I hope that this is not too repetitive.

    Up late last night and watched the Cuomo programme on CNN. He had as a guest on his programme, the director of the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. The latter stated that if you have either a sniffly/dripping nose and or cough/sore throat, then these are upper respiratory tract conditions associated with a common cold rather than with the Cover-19 virus which affects the lungs proper.

    Which is why, with Senior Management’s ongoing lung cancer treatment and her (now) immunodeficient status, we are comprehensively reining in any travel plans and any we make are now easily cancellable/refundable.

    This is going to be acutely revealing of interdependencies in international supply chains – when the parts run out.


    Just to throw in a perspective from Kuala Lumpur (where I live) and Bangkok (where I recently visited).

    Life seems to be pretty normal in both cities. Perhaps slightly fewer cars on the road and fewer people in the malls, but otherwise much the same as ever.

    The majority of people I’ve seen out and about are not bothering to wear masks, though the number who do seems a little higher than usually. Maybe the message is getting through that they’re not terribly effective. It would actually be better, I think, If people only wore them when actually unwell – then one could try to steer clear or hold one’s breath when passing etc 😉

    In both cities, many malls and some shops now have bottles of hand sanitiser at entrances and on counters etc, for public use. Most people seem to use them, though some do not, which is a shame – I suspect it’s the ones who most need to who don’t bother, eg those who sneeze into the palm of their hand rather than elbow, or who don’t wash their hands after using the toilet (yep, that’s still a thing, and not just in developing countries).

    I hope the practice of providing sanitizer continues long after the coronavirus problem has gone away. Strikes me it would be no bad thing to encourage the habit generally – might help reduce the spread of ‘regular’ flu, colds, and stomach bugs etc.

    I have become much more conscious of what I touch, and try to push lift buttons with my knuckles, use only my little finger to pull door handles etc, and use the side of my hand or elbow to push doors, or hang on to escalators and handrails etc – anything to avoid having my palms or fingertips touch anything 😉

    I carry a small bottle of hand sanitiser which I use regularly, especially after touching anything. Although one note of caution – I gather many hand sanitisers aren’t effective against viruses, only bacteria… Frequent and thorough washing with soap and water seems to be the preferable way to go.

    Some malls and hotels in Bangkok had security staff with hand-held temperature sensors at the entrances, scanning everyone who came in – which all seemed very efficient and well managed. I haven’t seen that yet in KL, but on arrival at KLIA the other day I did notice that they’d set up an infrared camera on the approach to immigration, with the output shown on a big screen facing you as you walked past, so you could see your ‘results’. I assume anyone showing high temperature would be pulled aside, though I didn’t see that actually happen to anyone.

    While in Bangkok we ate at the Siam hotel, and were the only people in the restaurant. I saw no signs of anyone actually being in residence either. We stayed at the Conrad, which seemed fairly busy, at least in the Exec lounge – but maybe that was the entire complement of guests… 😉

    Overall, my sense is that if you didn’t already know about the coronavirus, and weren’t staying in an (empty) hotel, you wouldn’t notice anything amiss – though you might think it was quieter than usual. I’m not aware of any public events here having been cancelled. Hopefully the hotter weather here makes the virus less likely to survive and spread. People seem pretty relaxed. Whether that’s complacency / false sense of security, remains to be seen, I suppose. Life goes on.

    I totally concur with you JH_1234 I too have been in both cities and perhaps mentioned that when I was in KL last week it was life as normal which is in stark contrast to Singapore which is almost in lock down mode. Here in Phuket life goes on but is markedly quiet for this time of year!

    The upside to the crisis is travel is so much easier I have to go to Canberra next week, prices on SQ are good at this moment and judging by the seat map the plane is half empty (also good)

    I wanted to also make the point made so eloquently by TupeloKid is that whilst there is a lot of noise about the virus quite rightly so, I think the 24 hour news cycle and social media have instilled far more fear than is necessary, there are very few deaths associated with the virus and I think in comparison over the same period more people have presented with the common flu virus and unfortunately passed away from it than this virus.

    I agree wear masks if you are sick dont wear if you are not, take hand sanitiser and make sure your personal hygiene is of the highest levels something I am sure all of us on here practise, even after a night out with Martyn!!!

    Martyn there is no need to cancel trips to BKK, as JH_1234 and I can attest all is good there, and if all else fails then 80 mins down the way on a plane is Phuket, desperate for your business and we always have a room for you too 🙂


    Looks like Saudi is banning pilgrims from outside. Big step bearing in mind contribution to the economy.

    Decision still to be made on the Hajj.

    All flights from UAE to Bahrain cancelled for 48 hours.

    All very confusing.


    We flew from Hong Kong to Koh Samui this morning. I have never seen HKG so empty and quiet. It was quite spooky. There were 34 passengers on our entire ‘plane.

    In HK the panic-buying seems to have subsided but in the metropolitan areas virtually everyone is wearing a mask. Having said that, we went up to Sai Kung last weekend and it was a much more mixed picture up there – and toilet rolls and sanitiser gel were freely available!!


    Martyn there is no need to cancel trips to BKK, as JH_1234 and I can attest all is good there, and if all else fails then 80 mins down the way on a plane is Phuket, desperate for your business and we always have a room for you too 🙂

    K1ngston – knowing your hospitality, I will need to find time for a liver detox and strict diet regime afterwards – but get the BBQ salmom ready, happily risk it, but in July 🙂

    I also agree with IanFromHKG on another thread. All well and good for the employees and staff working for the big multi nationals, but not good for a single mother with 4 kids, who lost her job in a fancy Kowloon restaurant and now has to move out of her flat and into a shelter as she has no income to pay the rent.


    Useful map. The source is trustworthy.

    Just received from a HKG based friend. He is ‘trustworthy’ so I assume that his source is too.


    Yes its trustworthy captonianm I have seen many people using this very map to find out more about the spread of the virus … high numbers but in comparison very low % deaths currently


    Just received from a HKG based friend. He is ‘trustworthy’ so I assume that his source is too.

    Also seen a map within SCMP articles that pinpoint specific cases in HK
    So far only 1 case in Tung Chung and no where else in Lantau, so risk is pretty minimal.

    Taking sensible precautions ( not face masks) would reduce risk even further.

    I also agree with IanFromHKG on another thread. All well and good for the employees and staff working for the big multi nationals, but not good for a single mother with 4 kids, who lost her job in a fancy Kowloon restaurant and now has to move out of her flat and into a shelter as she has no income to pay the rent.

    Is delaying my trip going to really make a difference, or could HK do with my measly disposable income now ?


    Today, it has been revealed, several cases in different countries, where people have had treatment, Re-tested confirmed as not having the virus and sent home,
    However, have tested positive once again!
    It was not a case of re-exposure, and we start to find this more, then the Virus can Incubate in the body in some form?!

    It may imply, that the Virus can hide or incubate in the body in some form, and find a way to replicate itself again, though the tests declare negative.
    Scientists need to probably loot at the sensitivity of the testing, but reading the levels of the virus may need to be focused on, to establish it is out of the body of the person concerned. If testing blood only, when the body would have to be storing in the organs, or one of the Systems within the body
    That would mean , Is the Corona virus Acute, or could it be a Chronic (on going, with treatment) Condition once established within a person?

    The Australian Government appears to have stepped in its status of the situation, resources, and is making preparations for this becoming a Pandemi, as one of the WHO Experts has indicated, for Countries to get ready for this, as it is coming..
    Once declared by the WHO, it also triggers the releasing of funds for poorer countries.
    However, it also means that The Government have emergency powers to control their citizens lives…


    I came across this article just now and found it interesting:

    In particular:

    “Specifically, if 60% rather than 20% of air travelers maintained clean hands, it could slow down the spread of infections by almost 70%, according to the researchers.”

    So 80% of air travellers are not practicing proper hygiene? Ouch.

    I’ve personally seen people leave bathrooms without washing their hands at all, or with just the merest splash of water, but I didn’t realise it was *that* bad.

    Come on folks – is it really that hard to spend 30 seconds to properly wash your hands with soap and water?

    1 user thanked author for this post.


    Except that I cannot see anywhere in the article where it states that 80% of travellers are not practicing proper hygiene. It seems to be a poorly cobbled argument that 30% of people don’t wash their hands after using the toilet, and 50% of 70% who do don’t do it properly.

    Also the argument is that people should “wash their hands frequently and correctly”….20 seconds plus drying with paper.

    You could see what would happen on airlines and in airports around the world if people were up and down to wash their hands frequently, so I would put this in the ‘totally pointless’ box, presumably written by some researcher who never actually travels anywhere.


    Lol. Well I assume they mean people should wash their hands whenever they’ve done something that merits it – not that they should randomly get up just to wash their hands 😉

    Re the 80% – that was my inference from them appearing to say (in the bit I quoted) that only 20% of air travellers maintain clean hands. I may have misinterpreted – but either way, I think the key point remains: *everyone* should be washing their hands *properly* (for at least 30 seconds) as and when the need arises, eg after using bathrooms etc. Yet so many don’t.


    Hi JH_1234

    I notice you listed The Siam in Bangkok where I am based. Hope you had a great time. From a hotelier perspective, the coronavirus ‘story’ has had a huge impact on tourism around Asia. At The Siam we are lucky to still have guests arriving from around the world and many are enjoying the more relaxed atmosphere around Bangkok and indeed incredible sites like Angkor Wat, Luang Prabang and northern Thailand without the usual crowds. As we are a small property with only 39 pool villas and suites, our guests enjoy their privacy and as such, we never seem to be fully booked, even when running reasonable occupancy as we still are (luckily).

    The fact remains that the virus is not the threat that the mainstream media (or indeed social media) is making out. The risk is low to catch and even if you do, you are likely to fully recover. Comparisons to flu and other diseases are now being widely discussed to put this virus into perspective.

    While we have taken extra precautions at The Siam, I must admit we have noticed a growing understanding and demand for sanitizer, face masks etc has dropped in past two weeks. People are getting on with their lives and enjoying their travels. Now we just have to hope another big news story comes along that will push the virus into ‘page 3’ and we can get back to reality. And people won’t be scared about the logistics of travel (which is the real issue now) rather than the actual health ‘threat’.

    In the meantime, wishing you and everyone safe travels ahead.

    2 users thanked author for this post.
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