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Finnair offers option to postpone, cancel China flights

The airline has modified its regular guidelines and will now allow cabin crews to use surgical-type masks if they wish.

Image: Finnair

National airline Finnair said Saturday that it has updated its terms and conditions to allow customers to defer or cancel flights to and from China, in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.

Customers who have purchased flights to or from China before 25 January for travel between 25 January and 23 February can now postpone travelling until 31 May at the latest. Alternatively, they may also cancel their bookings and seek a refund on the ticket via the airline’s online reservation service.

Passengers can postpone their travel dates by contacting Finnair customer services or their travel agent. The airline can also be reached via Twitter, Facebook and its online chat channel, it said.

Airline to continue China service

The spread of the Wuhan strain of coronavirus in China has not affected Finnair services to the region since authorities have not issued any flight restrictions, media relations chief Päivyt Tallqvist said on Saturday. This means that the airline will continue to operate flights to Guangzhou, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Nanjing.

Meanwhile the airline has instructed flight crews to maintain good hand hygiene and to avoid contact with animals. It has also modified its regular guidelines and will now allow cabin crews to use surgical-type masks, if they so desire. According to Tallqvist, queries about using the masks have mainly come from personnel in China.

"We've had the practice that cabin crew should not use masks for work because health officials have not recommended it. But now we have made a temporary exception to normal practice since Chinese authorities have said that staff coming into direct contact with customers can use face masks if they wish," Tallqvist explained.

Passengers will not be offered masks in-flight, however.

"Usually Asian passengers use face masks. The people who use them regularly will have them in any case," she added.

Foreign Ministry: No special measures

Meanwhile the Finnish Foreign Ministry said that fewer than 10 Finns in the Wuhan area have filed travel notifications.

"The embassy in Beijing is monitoring the situation in cooperation with EU countries, but at the moment no special measures have been recommended," the ministry said.

If action is to be taken, it will be done in coordination with other EU states, it added.

On Friday, Finnish officials ruled out coronavirus in the case of two tourists from Wuhan who sought treatment at a health centre in Lapland.