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Coronavirus impacts air travel


SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – The coronavirus epidemic is now affecting air travel – forcing airlines to reduce both international and domestic flights.

Some industry trade groups believe the virus may even be worse for air travel business than the 2001 terror attacks.

Even frequent busy check-in counters at SFO were scarce of passengers on Tuesday.

At SFO international flights to destinations that aren’t even coronavirus hot spots are starting to be scaled back and the airport is expecting more domestic flights to be reduced as well.

Airlines are attempting to right size their operation for reduced travel demand. 

SFO spokesperson Doug Yakel says, “As you see large companies announce they’re scaling back travel of employees — airlines are adjusting their schedules to reflect that there are less people flying right now.”

Scaling back and preparing for the worst flight cancellations caused by fears of coronavirus are starting to affect airlines worldwide. 

Yakel adds, “This week Qantas announced scaling back flights to Australia and also Ibera announced suspension of service to Madrid. So that’s kind of outside of some of the expected locations where you’re really hearing about a lot of cases of COVID-19.”

Yakel says right now the airport has recorded a 3.1% reduction in flights, but that number is likely to rise — as airlines like Delta, and United announce a 25% reduction in ticket sales in recent days. 

You can even see a difference in Uber pick up areas at SFO — normally packed with travelers, was clearly less busy Tuesday.

“We’re in the process of pricing out exactly what all the latest airline schedule reductions represents in reduced revenue at the airport.It’s difficult to say at this point because the reductions continue to come in,” Yakel said. 

Despite the fears — some are still choosing to go through with their travel plans and are being met with emptier planes — One passenger says, “Southwest only 54 people were on the plane, there should’ve been 174 coming back, I think there were under 100.”

Another passenger said, “I usually fly this time of year to India once a year. It was lesser than before definitely.”

And fellow passengers practicing better hygiene too.

The passenger adds “The good habits have come back! Which is a good thing to look at.” 

“We took all the precautions. All the sanitary everything. Even on the plane.. anything you touch!”

With all of this comes different travel deals with multiple airlines. However it remains to be seen how many passengers take airlines up on their offers. 

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