By Michael Clarke

PASSENGERS scrambling to return to the UK from
destinations hit by SARS are helping to sustain flight frequencies, airlines
have claimed.

Carriers operating services to Hong Kong, China and
Toronto claim inbound load factors are sky high as customers cut short their
trips.

Cancellations from the UK include Cathay Pacific
cutting four of its 18 weekly flights to Hong Kong, Singapore Airlines reducing
its Manchester service to four times a week and BA going from double daily to
daily to Hong Kong.

But carriers to Beijing and Toronto, including British
Airways, Air Canada and Air China, are operating full schedules.

Air China said most of its inbound
flights from Beijing are full until the end of the first week in May. Average
inbound loads are 93%, compared to 50% outbound.

Sales and marketing manager Richard Burgess said:
“Inbound traffic is really holding us up at the moment, but it is a natural
progression as things grind to a halt. We will have to wait and see what
happens in a few days.”

The only change BA is implementing on its
thrice-weekly Beijing service and double-daily Toronto flight is to overnight
crew in different locations.