PETALING JAYA - With the Chinese authorities ordering a lockdown of Wuhan to contain the novel coronavirus from spreading, AirAsia and Malindo Air have cancelled flights to the city with immediate effect.
In a travel advisory, AirAsia said all its flights from Kota Kinabalu, Bangkok and Phuket to Wuhan would be temporarily cancelled until Jan 28.
AirAsia flies from Kota Kinabalu to Wuhan once a day, while its flights from Phuket and Bangkok fly to the city once and twice a day, respectively.
China has imposed a quarantine on Wuhan with its people now barred from leaving the city.
It has been reported that all its public transportation services such as buses, subways and ferries have stopped operating, as well as its airport closed to outgoing passengers.
"AirAsia gives its assurance that the safety and well-being of our guests and Allstars is our top priority. AirAsia is complying with advice and regulations from global and local health authorities, including the World Health Organisation.
"AirAsia's guests who are in Wuhan are advised to abide by announcements made by the government and health authorities, and to contact their respective diplomatic missions or embassies in China for assistance," it said.
It noted that customers who wished to amend their travel plans to or from Wuhan can reroute to any other mainland China station for flights to Kota Kinabalu, Bangkok and Phuket without additional cost, subject to seat availability, for all flights before Feb 29.
It added that for flights to and from Wuhan on or before Feb 29, guests could retain the value of their fare in their AirAsia BIG Loyalty account for future travel with AirAsia.
"The online credit account is to be redeemed for booking within 90 calendar days from the issuance date. The actual travel dates can be after the expiry date as long as our flight schedule is out," it said.
It added that full refunds can be obtained for cancelled flights until Feb 15, and return flights from Feb 16 to 29.
"Refund requests can be made with AVA at support.airasia.com," it said, adding that for bookings made through travel agents, including online travel agents, refund requests are to be made via the respective travel agents.
Meanwhile, Malindo Air said the decision to suspend its flights to Wuhan was to ensure the safety, security and comfort of air travel to its flight crew and passengers.
"Passengers who hold a valid booking for travel between Jan 23 and Feb 8 may contact our call centre at +60378415388 or walk-in to our ticketing office for further assistance.
"We are also monitoring the current situation in Wuhan very closely and will provide the latest developments to our passengers in our website accordingly," it said.
Malindo Air flies to Wuhan Tianhe International Airport from KLIA between two and three times a week.
AirAsia and Malindo Air noted that they were closely monitoring the situation and will provide updates on the latest developments.
Meanwhile, Wisma Putra in a statement said its offices in China are ready to extend assistance to Malaysians in Wuhan following the coronavirus outbreak there.
"Malaysians residing or travelling in the affected areas are advised to give utmost priority to their personal health and safety by taking precautionary measures and adhering to instructions issued by local authorities," it added.
Malaysian ambassador to China Raja Datuk Nushirwan Zainal Abidin when contacted said the embassy has been actively calling up over 100 Malaysians who are known to be based in Wuhan.
"We have established an emergency response team here in the embassy. We are trying to get in touch with all the Malaysians who have registered with us, whose phone numbers we have.
"We are also trying to get in touch with the provincial government, including their education office and their health office as well," he said.
"According to our figures, there is anywhere between 115 and 120 Malaysians (in Wuhan) who are registered with us.
"These are professionals as well as students, and their family members. But we have reason to believe that quite a significant portion of them have left Wuhan because of Chinese New Year," he said.
He advised Malaysians who are still in Wuhan not to panic and to take seriously the health precautionary measures by the authorities.
"The health precautions are already quite well-known: don't get involved with large masses of people, wear masks, continuously wash hands.
"They should constantly keep themselves updated with the situation via local media as well as news from the Malaysian Ministry of Health, the National Health Commission of the People's Republic of China and the World Health Organisation," he said.
The ambassador also urged family members of the Wuhan-based Malaysians to provide information of their loved ones' whereabouts to the embassy via their email firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at +861065322531.
"This is so we are able to coordinate the information, that is the most important thing right now," he said.