Following a Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) Red Alert warning by the Hong Kong government warning travelers against flying to Korea, Cathay Pacific Airways and its subsidiary Dragonair have committed to refunds or re-routing for all existing tickets to Seoul, Busan and Jeju up to the end of August.
In addition, Taiwan-based China Airlines, Eva Air, TransAsia Airways and Mandarin Airways are also offering full-refund cancellations in the immediate term for Korean flights.
Korea has reported 95 cases of MERS, with seven deaths in the country. As a result, the Hong Kong Security Bureau issued an Outbound Travel Alert (OTA), advising passengers to avoid “all non-essential travel” to the country.
In addition, Taiwan and Macau have both advised against unnecessary travel to any destination in South Korea, and are mandating that passengers wear facemasks disembarking from Korea-originating flights.
Since the virus was discovered in 2012 in Saudi Arabia, the MERS outbreak has killed more than 300 people in more than 20 countries. First identified in Saudi Arabia where it claimed the lives of more than 100, MERS is suspected of being spread by respiratory and direct contact vectors.
Cathay Pacific and Dragonair say they are “monitoring the situation closely” and have provided extra facemasks, hand sanitizers and gloves for use on any aircraft traveling to Korea. Both carriers are looking at extra sanitation procedures in addition to routine cleaning on aircraft flying to potential infection areas.