United Airlines slashes Asia service because of coronavirus

Key Points
  • United became the first U.S. airline to make broad cuts to its Asia service because of the virus.
  • United has more service to Asia than any other U.S. carrier.
  • The reductions raise concerns of further cuts to other regions.
A United Airlines aircraft
Nicolas Economou | NurPhoto | Getty Images

United Airlines said Friday that it is reducing it's service throughout Asia as the spread of coronavirus drives down demand.

The Chicago-based carrier has more service to Asia than any other U.S. carrier. United earlier this week pulled its full-year guidance because of the outbreak, which has sickened more than 83,000 people. Demand to China collapsed entirely and fell by 75% in the rest of the airline's Asia network, it said.

United will cancel its service to Tokyo's Narita International Airport from Los Angeles and from Houston from March 8 to April 24. It will also suspend its service from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport from March 8 to March 27 before it switches to Tokyo's Haneda airport. 

The airline is also reducing flights to Tokyo from Newark to five a week from daily in April, and also reducing service from San Francisco to Osaka, Singapore and Seoul, South Korea. It will also use a smaller plane for its San Francisco to Tapei service during March and April.

Delta Air Lines earlier this week said it would cut its weekly flights to Seoul to 15 from 28. South Korea has more cases of coronavirus outside of China than any other country.

United also said it will extend its suspension of service to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong through April 30.

"We will stay in close contact with the CDC and other health organizations as we continue to evaluate our schedule," the airline said.

United shares were down 2.1% in morning trading as airlines continued their sharp declines of the week as worries of a broader slowdown in travel demand rattles investors. Delta was down 2.5%, American was off 3.3% and Southwest was down 1.9%.

United Airlines to reduce service to Asia due to coronavirus reducing demand