MOROCCO – Morocco’s flag carrier Royal Air Maroc (RAM) has decided to temporarily suspend its flights between Casablanca and Beijing from Friday, January 31 to February 29.

The company attributed the suspension to a “sharp drop” in bookings for flights between the two cities.

The Moroccan airline said that “Customers scheduled initially on this air route, beyond January 31, will be personally notified through information provided in their reservation files”.

Royal Air Maroc further noted that the customers whose flights had been suspended will be offered new travel dates at no additional cost.

RAM inaugurated the first non-stop flight between Casablanca and Beijing on January 16 after China and Morocco agreed to boost bilateral cooperation, particularly in the tourism industry.

The coronavirus (2019-nCov) outbreak in Wuhan, however, is creating frustration and fear among travelers across the world influencing many to cancel any travel plans to Asia’s largest economy.

So far, at least 170 people died in China with more than 7,000 cases having been confirmed including some in other countries, such as Germany, Australia, France, and the Philippines

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency as it continues to spread outside of China.

“The main reason for this declaration is not what is happening in China but what is happening in other countries,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press conference today in Geneva, Switzerland.

The organization’s primary concern is that the coronavirus may spread to countries with weaker health care systems.

Ghebreyesus described the Wuhan coronavirus as an “unprecedented outbreak” that has been met with an “unprecedented response,” praising China’s “extraordinary measures” taken to prevent it from spreading.

RAM joins a number of airlines from Africa including Air Tanzania, Kenya Airways, and RwandAir that have temporarily cancelled flights to China.

Other airlines around the world that have suspended flights to China following the coronavirus include Air Canada, Air France, Air India, Air Seoul, American Airlines, British Airways, Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific Airways, Delta Airlines, Finnair, Lion Air, SAS, Turkish Airlines, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and United Parcel Service Inc.