Coronavirus started in Wuhan; its airport finally reopened after 11 weeks

Apr 8, 2020

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After 76 days of lockdown, Wuhan Tianhe International Airport has officially reopened. As of Wednesday morning local time, the airport has resumed commercial operations following the city’s lockdown as the origin of the novel coronavirus.



Wuhan Airport (WUH), located in central China’s Hubei province, has been closed since Jan. 23, to contain the spread of the coronavirus. As of Wednesday morning, however, operations have resumed. Xiamen Airlines Flight 8095 was the first commercial aircraft to arrive at WUH since the airport reopened. The Boeing 737-800 (B-5707) landed at WUH from Hangzhou (HGH) at 7:19 a.m. local time (7:19 p.m. Tuesday EST).

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The aircraft was greeted by a water cannon salute upon arrival.

It wasn’t immediately clear how many passengers were on board the aircraft, however, according to data from ExpertFlyer, which is owned by TPG’s parent company Red Ventures, the aircraft was nearly half empty. It’s unclear if seats were blocked out by the airline for social distancing measures.

According to FlightRadar24, the first departure from the airport was a China Eastern Boeing 737 flying to Sanya (SYX) as MU2527. The flight departed at 7:25 a.m. local time (7:25 p.m. Tuesday EST) and arrived in Sanya at 9:46 a.m. local time (9:46 p.m. Tuesday EST).

(Image courtesy of FlightRadar24)
(Image courtesy of FlightRadar24)

At time of publication, there are a number of aircraft flying to and from Wuhan. According to data from FlightRadar24, there are 15 passenger aircraft airborne flying to or from WUH at time of writing.

A China Southern check-in agent confirmed to Bloomberg that the Guangzhou-based airline plans to operate 28 flights out of Wuhan on Wednesday. Some of the flights were reported to be 90% full, according to the agent.

There was reportedly a crowd outside the airport on Wednesday morning as those who were previously trapped in Wuhan fled to the airport to get home. While a number of medical professionals have been permitted to leave, for non-medical workers, individuals can only leave if they have a “green code,” based on their travel history, health information and close contacts.

The city of Wuhan, with a population of around 11 million, has entered its post-coronavirus phase. As of Wednesday, the city’s airport and train stations have reopened, allowing eligible medical workers and individuals to move freely. According to state broadcaster CCTV, some 55,000 people will leave Wuhan on Wednesday.

WUHAN, April 3, 2020 -- Firefighters prepare to conduct disinfection at the Wuhan Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, April 3, 2020. Wuhan, the Chinese city hardest hit by the novel coronavirus outbreak, conducted disinfection Friday on the local airport as operations will soon resume on April 8 when the city lifts its travel restrictions. Wuhan Tianhe International Airport invited a team of 161 professionals to disinfect an area of around 570,000 square meters in Terminal 3 of the airport, said Ye Tao, head of terminal management at the airport. The team disinfected main facilities such as benches, elevators and trolleys in the terminal. (Photo by Cheng Min/Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/Cheng Min via Getty Images)
WUHAN, April 3, 2020 — Firefighters prepare to conduct disinfection at the Wuhan Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province, April 3, 2020. (Photo by Cheng Min/Xinhua via Getty)

Hubei province and the lockdown measures throughout China have reportedly curbed the coronavirus spread in the country. According to Chinese officials, there have been no new deaths from coronavirus for the first time since the beginning of the outbreak, and just two new infections have been reported in the past 14 days in Wuhan.

Wednesday’s lifting of the Wuhan lockdown comes amid news of the coronavirus at its peak or near-peak in other parts of the world. Airports around the world have been forced to drastically reduce — or even suspend — operations as the demand for air travel has dropped significantly and governments have issued restrictive measures.

Featured photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images.

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