Airlines cancel flights over Ebola fears

Airlines cancel flights over Ebola fears
CNN
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Wednesday, August 6, 2014 - 8:51am

LONDON (CNNMoney) -- Airlines are starting to cancel flights to West Africa over concerns about the deadly Ebola outbreak.

British Airways is the latest major airline to stop all flights to Sierra Leone and Liberia, due to the "deteriorating public health situation."

Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea are at the center of the largest Ebola outbreak in history, which has claimed the lives of nearly 900 people.

Nearby Nigeria has also recorded seven Ebola cases.

Emirates this month became the first major international airline to suspend service to Guinea, saying "the safety of our passengers and crew is of the highest priority and will not be compromised."

Other airlines may not have suspended flights altogether, but appear to be reducing their services to the region.

"There have been noticeably fewer international flights to these countries, leading to lower revenues and financial inflows," the World Bank said this week.

Pan-African airline ASKY and smaller regional carrier Arik Air have also restricted flights in the region.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said Wednesday there was little risk to people traveling to the affected areas. It has issued industry guidance on how to detect and deal with potentially infected passengers.

The World Bank pledged $200 million this week to try to contain the Ebola outbreak. The World Health Organization and West African nations hit by the outbreak have also committed $100 million to the effort.

The Ebola virus has hit some of West Africa's most vulnerable economies, and poorest rural areas.

Economic growth in Guinea, where more than 300 people have died from the virus, is now expected to slow to 3.5%, from 4.5%, according to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

--CNN's Ivana Kottasova and Jim Boulden contributed to this report.

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