VIENTIANE, March 26 (Xinhua) -- Lao Airlines has suspended most international flights due to the dramatic decline of passengers amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The airline said the decision to suspend flights was to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Local daily Vientiane Times on Thursday quoted Director of the airline's Commercial Department Noudeng Chanthaphasouk as saying that passengers on international routes had fallen by over 90 percent compared to the same period in 2019.
The airline had to suspend international routes or reduce the number of flights.
According to the notice from Lao Airlines issued on Friday, all flights to Seoul of South Korea, Hanoi and Ho Chi Min of Vietnam, Phnom Penh of Cambodia, and many provinces of China have been suspended until April 30.
Services to Chengdu in China have been suspended until April 14, while flights to Danang of Vietnam were indefinitely postponed and flights to Bangkok and Chiangmai of Thailand have been suspended until April 20.
However, the flights to Changsha remain the same as scheduled, but passengers on this route must pay 2,000 U.S. dollars for a 14-day quarantine in China.
"We have kept some flights to China because there are some passengers traveling on these routes, but both countries have issued measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19," Noudeng said.
"Even passengers on domestic flights have fallen nearly 90 percent in recent weeks. Many passengers have suspended their travel plans due to the fear of this virus," he added.
The airline plans to decrease the number of domestic flights to match passenger demand.
Lao Airlines suspended flights from Vientiane capital to Seoul in early March and most flights to China in early February following the COVID-19 outbreak.
The company has asked its employees to take several days of unpaid leave so the company could cut costs amid plummeting flight reservations, according to the report.