You’re not seeing things. There are fewer people at airports around the world as the new coronavirus disease spreads throughout cities. In some of the areas hardest hit by the virus like China, South Korea, and Italy, travel is restricted and it’s definitely noticeable.
For the airline industry, this is a major blow. Carriers like United, Delta, and Alaska are changing cancellation policies to allow free flight changes for the next year. The International Air Transport Association puts losses anywhere from $63 billion to $113 billion, depending on the spread of the respiratory disease.
The San Francisco International Airport public information office’s Doug Yakel explained that February numbers from airlines won’t come in until the end of March, but flight schedules have been drastically reduced. Flights to China, Hong Kong, South Korean, Singapore, Japan, and Taiwan from SFO went from 204 planned for each week in March to 99 flights, marking over a 50 percent drop.
So while travel is still happening (note travel restrictions for certain countries), the regular hustle and bustle is tempered. Take a look at airports in recent weeks compared to activity before the COVID-19 (coronavirus’ official name) outbreak. In some places, airports remain fairly busy, but travelers are masking up and taking precautions.
Beijing’s Daxing International Airport
Hong Kong International Airport
Tianhe airport in Wuhan, China
Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi
San Francisco International Airport
Treviso Airport near Venice, Italy
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