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Passengers on an Air China flight from Beijing wear protective masks as they arrive at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. Airlines are cutting down their flights to and from China as the virus spread continues. Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: UAE airlines are maintaining their flight schedules to China for now even as some international carriers, British Airways among them, decided to cancel flights to Beijing and Shanghai over the deadly virus attacks.

This was re-confirmed by airline sources on Wednesday, after the UAE reported the first cases of the virus.

On Sunday, an Emirates spokesperson had said: “We can confirm Dubai health authorities are screening passengers and crew who arrive on Emirates’ flights from China, which includes our flights from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. We are in close contact with all relevant UAE and Chinese regulatory authorities.”

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A statement issued by Etihad Airways, also on Sunday, noted: “Dedicated gates will be assigned at Abu Dhabi International Airport for flights arriving from China, and freight aircraft arriving from China will use specific parking bays where their crews will be screened in the same way as passengers.”

It was on Wednesday that the UAE reported its first cases of the virus.

Issuing refunds

China’s aviation regulator also announced passengers can get refunds for flight cancellations and waivers to and from mainland China from January 24. China’s mainland airlines, including Air China, China Southern and China Eastern - are all offering refunds for tickets purchased before January 24.

Cathay Pacific is the first airline that decided to officially publish a travel waiver for all itineraries involving mainland China flights, offering free changes or cancellations to passengers who no longer wish to travel.

The airline informed passengers in their notice that rebooking, rerouting and refund charges will be waived for all tickets issued worldwide (irrespective of fare type) on/before January 24, for travel with Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon, confirmed bookings arriving to or departing from the Mainland between January 24 and February 29.

Australia’s Qantas Airways too are offering refunds for tickets issued worldwide on or before January 24. Basically, the tickets are for journeys to and from mainland China between January 24 and February 29.

Malaysia’s AirAsia has joined the list of those issuing refunds. The airline is refunding tickets booked before January 24, and for travel to and from mainland China until Feb. 1, and return flights between February 16-29.

Low-cost carriers Air Asia and Malindo Air have temporarily canceled all flights to and from the city.