Flight cancellation and the Ebola outbreak

Posted on August 6, 2014 by Guest Writer
Signpost pointing towards Sierra Leone

British Airways has cancelled all flights to Sierra Leone and Liberia due to the deteriorating public health situation in the West African countries. In a statement the carrier announced passengers could get a refund or rebook their flights after August 31—when they expect flights will resume.

The move by British Airways follows a warning from the World Health Organisation (WHO) at the weekend, that the outbreak was spreading faster than it could be controlled. The airline operates four flights a week from Heathrow to Sierra Leone, with a connection to Monrovia in Liberia. The airline Emirates has also suspended flights to Conakry in Guinea.

Since February 900 people have been killed by the outbreak in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria. Health bosses are particularly concerned about the situation in Liberia, where it has been reported that staff have fled hospitals for fear of becoming infected themselves.

In a statement British Airways said: “We have temporarily suspended our flights to and from Liberia and Sierra Leone until 31 August 2014 due to the deteriorating public health situation in both countries.

“The safety of our customers, crew and ground teams is always our top priority and we will keep the routes under constant review in the coming weeks.

“Customers with tickets on those routes are being offered a range of options including a full refund and the ability to rebook their flights to a later date.”

There is no cure or vaccine for Ebola. However, patients have a better recovery rate if they receive early treatment.

Ebola Virus Facts

  • Ebola is a severe disease in humans and is fatal in 90 per cent of cases
  • Outbreaks occur primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests
  • The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission
  • Fruit bats are considered to be the natural host of the Ebola virus
  • Ebola patients suffer severe bleeding, fever, vomiting and diarrhoea
  • The incubation period—the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms—is 2 to 21 days

For international travel advice visit the World Health Organisation online or to see a video explaining more about the Ebola virus, visit the BBC online.