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US Airlines, Hotels Extend Rebooking Options As Coronavirus Spreads

U.S. airlines and hotels are extending options for customers to rebook travel to a growing list of countries, including Italy, as coronavirus cases spiked outside of China and sparked fears of a global pandemic.

The United States told Americans on Feb. 25 to begin preparing for the coronavirus to spread within the country as outbreaks in Iran, South Korea, and Italy escalated, triggering concerns of a hit to global travel demand.

Delta Air Lines Inc said that reservations through March 2 on flights to Bologna, Milan, and Venice in northern Italy, where cases have climbed, are eligible for rescheduling. Air Canada has also added parts of Italy to its list of places eligible for rebookings.

Hyatt Hotels said it would allow travelers from South Korea, Japan, and Italy to cancel or change their hotel bookings for free, expanding the policy from mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.

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A psychologist talks to a group of workers outside the H10 Costa Adeje Palace Hotel in La Caleta, Italy, on Feb. 25, 2020. (Desiree Martin/AFP via Getty Images)

The cancellations or booking changes at Hyatt are valid for reservations made through March 31, the U.S. hotel operator said on its official Chinese social media account on WeChat.

Major airlines have also issued travel waivers, eliminating change fees, for flights to South Korea.

United Airlines Holdings Inc and American Airlines Group Inc said on Tuesday they were still monitoring developments in Italy.

So far U.S. airlines have only canceled flights to China, a move that followed the U.S. State Departments decision to elevate a travel advisory to the country to the same level as Afghanistan and Iraq.

American Airlines shares dropped 9.3 percent to $23.12 on Tuesday, below their price after the company emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2013.

Cowen analyst Helane Becker said the impacts extended to car rental companies as well as concessions and restaurants in airports and on cruise lines.

“Its not just the airlines that are being impacted by people making different travel plans,” she said.

Royal Caribbean Cruises said it has canceled 30 sailings in Southeast Asia and changed several itineraries in the region due to the coronavirus outbreak, hitting its 2020 earnings per share by about $0.90.

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