United and American Airlines have extended their flight suspension to Hong Kong as countries tightened their measures following the outbreak of a deadly new coronavirus.
Hours later the US-based airlines unveiled their suspension, Hong Kong's own flag carrier Cathay Pacific also said they will be slashing flights due to lack of demand.
United said it would halt flights to the international financial hub from Saturday until February 20, citing a sharp drop in passengers. American Airlines said it had already suspended flights through to February 20.
Dozens of major airlines have stopped flying to the mainland in a bid to slow the spread of the virus, which has been detected among a small number of people in more than 20 countries. But most airlines still fly into Hong Kong, which is a major aviation hub in teh region.
But the move by US airlines to suspend flights to Hong Kong comes as the city struggles with its own outbreak, with health officials warning there was now growing evidence of local transmissions.
US authorities have already announced that travellers will be barred if they had visited the mainland in the last 14 days.
Hongkongers who arrive in the US will also be questioned about their recent travels as their passports will not stamps of mainland entry, the authorities there have said.
Replying to RTHK's queries, American officials said they will rely on the frontline officers and airlines to make sure that this temporary ban is effectively implemented.
Australia and New Zealand also have implemented a similar ban on people who have travelled to the mainland. But the Australian authorities have not responded to RTHK about any steps they have taken to screen Hong Kong passport holders. (additional reporting by AP)
US airlines suspend flights to Hong Kong
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