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‘Zero departure’ at Wuhan Airport amid coronavirus epidemic

Following the identified outbreak of the new coronavirus in the Chinese city Wuhan, government authorities yesterday ordered the cancellation of all transportation out of the virus’ epicenter. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) also issued a notice to carriers directing them to cancel flights leaving the airport and reduce flights into it, resulting in “zero departure” of flights out of Wuhan International Airport (WUH).

Flightradar24 shows a majority of flights by all carriers flying to and from the airport as being cancelled, although local Chinese news reported that SF Airlines flew two 757 aircraft into Wuhan from Shenzhen (SZX) and Hangzhou (HGH) to transport medical supplies to the city.

While the overall impact to cargo operations at the airport is not yet clear, the probability for disruption is high, given that any flights continuing into or connecting through the airport will result in cargo being stranded at WUH until further notice from government authorities.

It is also unclear what widespread effect the epidemic will have across logistics chains and regularly scheduled services as reports of the coronavirus’ spread have resulted in the initial shutdown of neighboring cities’ transport, such as Huanggang city, and cases of the virus have now been reported in the United States.

“It’s too early to really early to assess what’s happening in Wuhan,” an industry source with operations at WUH told Air Cargo World. “If there are changes in flight cancellations, it could disrupt the whole chain. Airlines fly around the world in a loop, so it could impact the sequence, the rotation. [We’re] diverting things, but it’s still too new to assess the ultimate impact.”

The Wuhan city government reported on its online web portal that Hubei Airport Group, which owns and operates WUH, has implemented measures to disinfect and sterilize airport facilities and garbage stations, in addition to performing temperature checks on passengers and airport personnel to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Air Cargo World will provide updates as the situation evolves.


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