Korean Air is extending its Wuhan flight suspension

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Korean Air is extending its Wuhan flight suspension

Korean Air is extending the suspension of its Wuhan flights for an additional month and adding seven other routes to its list of Chinese services being temporarily abandoned.

Last week, the company said it would halt flights to Wuhan until the end of this month as the city has been quarantined because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The ban on flights to the central Chinese city will now last through March 27.

Other China routes being suspended by the airline from Feb. 2 are: Incheon-Huangshan, Incheon-Zhangjiajie, Incheon-Changsha, Incheon-Kunming, Busan-Beijing, Busan-Nanjing and Jeju-Beijing.

Korean Air is also changing how it caters regional flights.

Rather than sourcing in-flight meals in Hong Kong, Beijing, Taipei in Taiwan and Shanghai, starting Friday it will prepare meals for flights to these cities in Incheon.

Cutlery will be replaced with plastic utensils, which will be sealed in plastic bags after use to be disposed of separately.

Around 30 percent of the plastic cutlery used to be recycled, but that practice will be suspended. The company will also halt offering individual blankets and pillows to its customers.

Airline employees will be provided with masks and hand sanitizers.

Flight crews will no longer be lodged in Chinese cities between flights. They will instead be returned immediately back to home country airports.

The airline first initiated measures Thursday in response to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, which is overwhelming China and spreading globally.

Every aircraft arriving from cities with a high number of infected residents, which includes Beijing, Shanghai, Qingdao and Guangzhou, are disinfected when they land at Incheon International Airport.

Korean Air flight crew will continue wearing masks and vinyl gloves. If a passenger exhibits coronavirus symptoms, masks will be provided to other passengers nearby and the crew will put on additional protective gear.

The measures are in place indefinitely.

Korean Air Chairman and CEO Cho Won-tae will be on board a flight to Wuhan that will evacuate Korean citizens. The plane takes off Friday at dawn.

Cho will lead a team of 30 Korean Air employee volunteers.

BY KIM YEON-AH [kim.yeonah@joongang.co.kr]
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