Coronavirus Disaster Capitalism: Airlines Offer Discounted Flights—With Layover in Wuhan

As countries across the world suspended air travel to China as a preventive measure for the coronavirus outbreak spreading across the Asian country, some airlines are offering discounted flights to Hong Kong in May—as long as travelers agree to a six-hour layover in the city of Wuhan, part of the Hubei region where the outbreak began in December.

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA union, told Common Dreams that selling discounted flights routed through the city at the center of the outbreak is unacceptable. Nelson called on world governments to make sure that public health is prioritized in air travel.

“Public health is not a commodity,” said Nelson. “We need responsible leadership from our government in coordination with all stakeholders.”

In a statement Friday, Nelson called on airlines to protect the health of their crews. 

“The government must work with our airlines to discontinue all service, with consideration for evacuation of flight crew, and with consideration to service that facilitates efforts by public health officials to contain spread of the virus,” said Nelson.

American Airlines and Delta announced Friday they are suspending flights to and from China due to the disease. The global tourism industry is expected to take a hit from the illness—one worse than the impact of the SARS outbreak in 2003, according to Bocom International transportation analyst Luya You. 


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