A bad year keeps getting worse for the airline industry

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A bad year keeps getting worse for the airline industry

Korean airlines are halting more flights as countries around the world increasingly impose entry restrictions in their fight against the global coronavirus outbreak.

Asiana Airlines said Thursday it will suspend all of its flights to Thailand through the end of this month beginning Saturday as travel demand dried up amid virus fears.

It is the first time for the country’s second biggest airline to suspend the route to the Southeast Asian country since it began services in 1991.

Asiana has already suspended nearly 70 percent of its passenger-carrying flights, with more than 120 countries and territories having imposed entry restrictions against visitors from Korea as of Thursday.

Rival Korean Air Lines said over 80 percent of its overall flights are not in operation. The country’s largest airline, it had provided passenger and cargo-carrying services to 115 cities in 44 countries before the coronavirus, or Covid-19, outbreak.

Local airlines have been struggling with a sharp decline in air travel demand since Jan. 20, when Korea reported its first case of Covid-19.

Adding to the industry’s woes, Japan on Monday adopted a temporary 14-day self-quarantine period for people flying in from Korea and China.

Tokyo also decided to suspend its visa-waiver program for Korean nationals.

The restriction will be implemented from March 9 until March 31. Japan also suspended the 90-day visa-free entry program for Koreans during the same period.

In response to Tokyo’s new entry restrictions, Seoul suspended a visa-free entry program for Japanese nationals Monday.

The move prompted Korean Air to suspend 16 of its flights on 17 routes to Japan.

Asiana Airlines said it will suspend all of its flights to Japan from March 9 until March 31 due to Japan’s entry restrictions. It previously operated 11 routes to eight Japanese cities.

Jeju Air, the country’s largest low-cost carrier, said it will continue to serve two routes from Incheon to Tokyo and Osaka. Thirteen out of its 15 routes to Japan are not in operation.

Six other budget carriers - Jin Air, Air Busan, Air Seoul, Eastar Jet, T’way and Fly Gangwon - have already suspended all or most of their international flights. Most have implemented emergency management systems to stay afloat.

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