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COVID-19: Americas travel industry news

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04/28/20 US: Delta outlines flying schedule for May

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Delta’s new published plans for May only includes seven transatlantic and transpacific routes. The airline has said that they will continue to provide essential service to key cities within the US and globally. Delta also announced their social distancing plans to block their middle seats on all flights until May 31. 

Business Traveller, 28 April 2020 Online 

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04/28/20 Argentina: Argentina to ban all flights until September

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Argentina has banned all travel, domestic and international, until September 1 earliest. The National Civil Aviation Administration has asked airlines to refrain from selling tickets over the next four months. The aviation industry is worth 2.1% of Argentina’s GDP ($12bn) which has impacted its’ economy.  

Breaking Travel News, 28 April 2020, Online 

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04/28/20 Colombia: Avianca open to partial government ownership

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Avianca’s CFO has said in a statement that the airline needs an investment from the Colombian government and make them a shareholder to survive the current crisis. Avianca has lost 90% of its earnings but says it still has most of its fixed costs. Majority of its fleets have been grounded as the three main countries it operates in; Colombia, Peru and el Salvador, have closed borders but is still operating some cargo flights. 

Simple Flying, 28 April, Online 

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04/26/20 USA: Delta to resume selected International services in May

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While international capacity will be down almost 90%, selected routes will see scheduled flights operate again, allowing the movement of people and cargo in May. Most of the routes are places where Delta has a strong source of revenue. Most likely, Delta is opening these flights up to get people home and facilitate the movement of crucial cargo. 

Simple Flying, 26 April 2020, Online 

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04/24/20 US: How COVID-19 will change the way we fly

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The potential for higher fares and fewer routes, coupled with health screening are all predicted to be part of the future for air travel. It’s also expected that airlines will shift to favour smaller aircraft to reduce capacity.  

Bloomberg, 24 April 2020, Online 

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04/22/20 US: Airlines stocks sinks despite stock market’s gains

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Stocks are still sinking despite the airlines receiving government funding and the boarder stock market rally. United Airlines Holding Inc.’s stock UAL is -7.17%, American Airline Group Inc. AAL is -6.63%, JetBlue Airways Corp. JBLU 15.64, Southwest Airlines Co. LUV down -2.72 and Delta Air Lines Inc. DAL down -2.72. Delta Air Lines said that they have received $2.7bn out of the $5.4bn from the CARES act. 

Market watch, 22 April 2020, Online 

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04/22/20 US: Delta reports $534m loss in the first quarter

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Delta Air Lines has reported a loss of $534m in the first three months of the years – its first in more than five years. Revenue in the quarter fell $1.9bn compared to the previous year which accounts to an 18% drop and miles flown by passengers falling by 17%. Delta had initially said that it is spending $100m a day in cash at the end of March but has now said they aim to cut that in half by the end of June. 

CNN Business, 22 April 2020, Online 

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04/22/20 US: Airlines seek exemptions to minimum service requirements

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The United States Department of Transport (DOT) had set out strict guidelines for airlines that have a market share of over 10% to maintain minimum services in order to receive funding. However, American Airlines, Hawaiian, Spirit, and JetBlue have all requested for the minimum service to be cut. Hawaiian’s request was approved as their long-haul services to mainland US would cause financial losses. 

Simple Flying, 22 April 2020, Online 

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04/22/20 US: United Airlines announce stock offering of 39.25m shares

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Air Canada has announced that it would extend the suspension of international flights as well as reduction in domestic flights until May 31. The airline has reduced international network from 101 airports to only six, including London and Frankfurt. They will continue to operate repatriation flights as needed. West Jet has also reduced its domestic flights until May 4. 

Forbes, 19 April 2020, Online 

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04/21/20 US: Treasury releases $2.9bn in airline support and finalizes agreement

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US Treasury department has said that it has disbursed $2.9bn in initial payroll assistance to 54 small carriers and two major passenger airlines while it works on agreements with six other major airlines. Major airlines will initially receive 50% of the funds and the remainder in a series of payments. In total the Treasury is awarding US passenger airlines $25bn. The airlines must repay 30% of the funds in low-interest loans and grant Treasury warrants equal to 10%. 

Business Insider, 21 April 2020, Online 

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04/20/20 South America: LATAM suspends European services until June

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LATAM Airlines has extended its 95% capacity cuts through May with no services operating to Europe. The airline has said that it will continue to operate reduced domestic flights to maintain minimum connectivity through Brazil and Chile. They will add an additional six weekly flights between Santiago and Miami starting next month.

Business Traveller, 20 April 2020, Online

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04/19/20 Canada: Canadian Airlines suspends international flights and reduce domestic travel

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Air Canada has announced that it would extend the suspension of international flights as well as reduction in domestic flights until May 31. The airline has reduced international network from 101 airports to only six, including London and Frankfurt. They will continue to operate repatriation flights as needed. West Jet has also reduced its domestic flights until May 4. 

Forbes, 19 April 2020, Online 

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04/20/20 US: United reports preliminary $2.1bn first-quarter loss

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United Airlines has reported a preliminary pre-tax loss of $2.1bn for the first quarter of 2020 and $1bn pre-tax loss on an adjusted basis. This has meant that the total revenue of the first quarter declined by 17% compared to 2019. United has also applied for a CARES Act loan which they hope to be able to borrow up to $4.5bn for a term of up to five years. 

Flight Global, 20 April 2020, Online 

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04/18/20 US: Delta extends customer flight credits for up to two years

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Delta Airlines are continuing to take steps to protect its customers during the COVID-19 pandemic in different ways as they are committed to providing flexibility when it comes to customers’ choice to cancel, change, or rebook flights. Tickets typically expire one year from the date of purchase. Delta is extending the expiration of flights credits and waiving change fees for up to two years, for those who have existing bookings on or before September 30 2020 as well as the flights already canceled between March and September 2020. Delta is also taking extended measures to support social-distancing directives for both its customers and employees and will continuously evaluate the unfolding situation.

Travel Pulse, 18 April 2020, Online

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04/17/20 US: Los Angeles sees biggest drop of plane travel in LAX history

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Across the US, the number of people travelling by plane has dropped significantly. LAX is the busiest airport in the country however, mayor of Los Angeles says 95% of travel has stopped in Los Angeles. This will have devasting effects on the city, especially as during 9/11 plane travel dropped about 55% and it took 10 years to come back. To protect the city, Los Angeles is expected to receive more than $323 million from the CARES Act, which will help maintain vital infrastructure.  

CNN travel, 17 April, Online 

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04/16/20 US: CEO of Carnival Corporation says they have funding to survive 2020

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Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the CEO of Carnival Corporation says that they have taken decisive financial actions that ensure operations through 2020 and for the future. The company is working hard to seek additional liquidity options especially if revenue streams are uncertain. It is still not clear when the cruise industry will relaunch, however the Carnival’s nine brands are taking bookings for the end of 2020 and into 2021.  

Travel Pulse, 16 April, Online 

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04/16/20 US: United Airlines cuts May flight schedule by 90%

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The American carrier has warned that the travel demand is essentially zero and shows no signs of improving which will make job cuts likely. United has reduced its international flying schedule, the airline expects to fly fewer people during the entire month of May than it did in a single day in May last year. The carrier is set to receive $5 billion from the US federal government under the CARES Act. However, it is expected there will be continued emphasis on payroll cost cutting such as new voluntary leave offerings and voluntary separation programmes, which about 20, 000 employees have already signed up for. 

Business Traveller, 16 April, Online 

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04/15/20 US: American Airlines Revenue drops 90 percent

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Airline executives have stated the coronavirus pandemic has had an even bigger impact on the industry than the September 11 terror attacks. Even though airline executives do not know when travel will resume, American have seen an increase in bookings for three months away and reservations in the fourth quarter. American Airlines continue to plan for the future, they are not deferring new aircrafts orders such as the Boeing 737 Max and retiring aircraft like Boeing 757s and 767s. 

Travel Pulse, 15 April, Online 

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04/15/20 US: Hawaii is the state hit hardest by COVID 19's impact on tourism

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The demand for travel has fallen sharply in the US due to the coronavirus and a recent study shows Hawaii has been hit the hardest. The different states were compared across 10 key metrics which included the share of business in travel – related industries, the share of employment within the sector, GDP generated through tourism and tourism spending per capita. Hawaii’s total score was 81.38. States where tourism has been least impacted include Oklahoma, Iowa and Arkansas. 

Pacific Business News, 15 April, Online 

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04/15/20 US: Major US passenger airlines agree to a $25bn rescue package that will secure workers jobs until October

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US airline passenger traffic has slumped by 95%, yet there is hope it will recover by the Autumn. The six biggest carriers – American Airlines, United, Delta, Southwest, JetBlue, and Alaska Airlines have accepted the support from the rescue deal. The major carriers will receive cash to pay workers, with 30% eventually getting paid back. For smaller carriers receiving $100m or less, no money will need to be repaid. The companies receiving the funds cannot lay off employees before September. There are strings attached; conditions restricting shareholder dividends, executive pay, and the government having the right to buy certain levels of stock at a set price.  

Sky News, 15 April 2020, Online 

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04/15/20 US: Americans are optimistic about travel in 2020

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A new survey suggests American’s are eager to travel with 75% of respondents say they will keep travelling in 2020, however they are more cautious now than they were previously. 77% of respondents said they were sticking with their travel plans between June and December 2020 as long their hometown or destination was not under quarantine. More people are deciding to travel domestically rather than internationally, trying to spend less on vacations but overall people still have the desire to travel in 2020. 

Travel Pulse, 15 April 2020 Online 

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04/15/20 US: Delta extends change fee waiver for flights booked through June 2020

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Delta has extended several of its travel policies into summer due to the global travel restrictions. Customers with cancelled travel up to the end of June 2020 can re-book without change fees to fly up until May 31, 2022. The carrier recently announced social distancing measures including blocking the middle seat on all flights which will be extended until the end of June. For eligible medical volunteers the airline is offering free round-trip flights to states including Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, and New York until the end of June. 

Business Traveller, 15 April 2020, Online  

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04/14/20 US: Airlines ask Department of Travel to suspend flights to more airports

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For airlines to receive fund through the $25bn grant available, they must continue to operate to all of the US destinations on their maps. This has meant that, although services to major airports have continued, operations to 61% of the country’s smallest airports have been suspended. However, airlines are asking the DOT to allow them to suspend more flights as passenger numbers drop and flights becoming less ‘reasonable’. 

The Points Guy, 14 April 2020, Online 

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04/08/20 US: JetBlue to consolidate number of airports it serves

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JetBlue seems to be the first US airline to use new rules that would allow airlines to cut back on flights. The Department of Transportation rule allows airlines to consolidate service at a single airport in the same geographical area, allowing them to cut back on duplicate ground operations. JetBlue will operate to five of its markets, including Washington and New York. They have cut thier scheduled flights by 80%.

CNN Business, 8 April 2020, Online

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04/08/20 US: Demand for a return to travel

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A recent Harris poll found that 31% plan to go on vacation when things return to ‘normal.’ The poll indicates that Americans will return to staying in hotels first with travelling further afield, by plane, taking slightly longer to recover. 

Travel Pulse, 8 April 2020, Online 

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04/08/20 US: NTA report $1bn in COVID-19 related refunds

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According to the National Tourism Association its tour operators have processed around $1bn in refunds. However, the industry is focused on recovery with around 80% applying for funds under the Cares Act federal stimulus package. 

Travel Weekly, 8 April 2020, Online 

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04/06/20 US: Boeing extends suspension of production at Seattle-Area facility

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Boeing officials announced on Sunday that the temporary shutdown of their Seattle airplane production would continue to be shut indefinitely. This is set to affect over 30,000 employees in the state. The company also announced that it would suspend its dividend an extent the pause of any share repurchasing.  

Travel Pulse, 6 April, Online 

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04/05/20 US: Democratic lawmakers urge Mnuchin against ‘unreasonable conditions’ on airline virus aid

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Some democratic lawmakers have stated that the recent guidance on airline aid does not fully reflect the intent of the congress. The aid, which would prohibit airlines from furloughing their employees, has already had many airlines applying for it. The lawmakers appreciate the desires to seek warrants in exchange for assistance but does not support efforts that would undermine abilities of employees. 

CNBC, 5 April 2020, Online 

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04/03/20 US: State department stops issuing passports amid COVID-19

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The US department of state has stopped its passport agency operations and will not be issuing new passports for the foreseeable future. This will not affect those who applied before March 20 or those who need it for emergency reasons. They have said that “this may change quickly and will update as soon as they notice a change in the status.” 

Travel pulse, 3 April, Online 

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04/03/20 US: American Airlines cuts flights but has no plans to halt US service

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American Airlines has said in a statement that it would be cutting additional flights this summer, as travel demands shrinks. The airline’s senior VP of network strategy said they would be cutting 90% of international flights between April and May. The airline has no plans to halt US flights entirely, also noting that they are eligible for $12bn out of $50bn in the US government loans. 

Reuters, 3 April 2020, Online 

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04/02/20 US: American Airlines drops flights in summer

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International flight capacity for American Airlines will be trimmed by 60% compared to 2019, and a drop of 80% on Pacific flights. The extended capacity drop highlights the complexity of forward planning which relies on future bookings to derive schedules for flights and crew.

Yahoo! Finance, 2 April 2020, Online

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04/02/20 LATAM: LATAM Airlines reduces operations by 95% in April

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In response to the ongoing pandemic and closures of borders, LATAM Airlines has said that it would reduce its operating in April by 95%. Domestic flights in Brazil will continue to fly to 39 destinations, while domestic flights in Chile will reduce frequencies in most of their destinations. They will still operate to three destinations in the US. 

Travel Pulse, 2 April 2020, Online 

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04/01/20 US: US travel industry warns of $910bn loss

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The US Travel Association claims losses for the industry in economic terms will be around $910bn, which is seven times the loss of 9/11.  The figure is derived from an assumed $400bn reduction in US travel spend this year.  

Forbes, 1 April 2020, Online 

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03/31/20 US: American Airlines expects to receive $12bn of $50bn financial aid from government

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The CEO of American Airlines has said in a video message to the employees, that they are “eligible to receive around $12bn” as it is "the largest airline in the United States”. However, he also noted that he is unsure as to whether they have met certain conditions to be eligible for the $25bn that would likewise allow it to meet the “no furlough obligation”.

CAPA, 31 March 2020, Online

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03/30/20 Caribbean: Caribbean countries increase COVID-19 restrictions

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Countries and islands in the Caribbean have closed borders to visitors and declared a state of emergency with curfews for residents – 7PM to 5AM, for the next 14 days. The Bahamas has issued an order closing Nassau’s international airport as well as placing residents on a 24h curfew.

Travelpulse, 30 March 2020, Online

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03/29/20 Brazil: Brazilian airlines start ‘essential air network’ to avoid complete shutdown

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To deliberate shutdown of all air services in the county, the Brazilian Government and airlines have outlined an ‘essential air network’. This aims to maintain a network within the country to keep the states connected. This comes after Brazil bans entry of foreign nationals for 30 days.

Airline Geeks, 29 March 2020, Online

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03/26/20 US: United Airlines cuts domestic travel further due to pandemic

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The airline announced on Wednesday that it would be cutting domestic flights by 52% - a further reduction from the previously stated 42%. This comes after a 90% reduction in international flights and only offering six flights daily to Asia, Australia, LATAM, ME and Europe.

Fox News, 26 March, Online

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03/25/20 US: Coronavirus relief package includes assistance for travel advisors

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US congress and the Trump administration have come to an agreement on a $2 trillion bill that includes assistance for travel advisors affected by the outbreak. The bill, named the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) act, is expected to pass both chambers and congress in the coming days.

Travelpulse, 25 March 2020, Online

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03/24/20 Canada: WestJet and Air Canada reduce staff and pilots

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WestJet has laid-off nearly half of its employees after the CEO asked them to choose between reduced hours or take voluntary/involuntary leave. Air Canada has also reduced the number of pilots.

Global News Canada, 24 March 2020, Online

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03/24/20 US: Airlines could completely shut down flights in the US

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US airlines are preparing for a shut down, ending all passenger flights within the US. There have been no final decisions made by the industry or the government, but different strategies are being considered. American Airlines cancelled more than 40% for flights on Monday.

Business Insider, 24 March 2020, Online

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03/24/20 US: Congress reach deal on $2 trillion coronavirus aid package

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US Congress have negotiated an economic stimulus bill. The plan includes a $500bn in aid for industries that have been hit hard by the crisis.

Reuters, 24 March 2020, online

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03/24/20 US: New poll shows how long travelers need before traveling again

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The latest Harris Poll has found that more than one in five Americans would be willing to immediately go to the office once the government provides information that the spread of the coronavirus is flattening. Twenty percent said that they would stay in a hotel again after about two or three months, and nearly a fifth of respondents to the survey said they would fly in four to six months.

Travelpulse, 24 March 2020, online

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03/23/20 US: Weekly air sales by US corporate travel agencies

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Total air tickets sold in the week ending March 22 by US based travel agencies with at least 70% self-reported corporate and government business fell nearly 90% year over year, according to Airlines Reporting Corp. Total tickets sold and the total consolidated dollar value of tickets sold by US based travel agencies fell 80% and 63.2% year over year, respectively.

Business Travel News, 23 March 2020, online

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03/23/20 US: Leaders from 11 travel industry bodies meet to address COVID-19

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The attendees discussed ways to lobby for congressional economic relief and the impact on the travel & tourism. “According to a recent US travel analysis, COVID-19 and the associated travel restrictions will result in an $809 billion hit on the United States economy and a loss of 4.6 million travel-related American jobs this year, nearly doubling the unemployment rate in the US.”

Travel Daily News, 23 March 2020, online

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03/23/20 US: US Department of the Treasury proposes USD50bn in loans for US carriers

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US Department of the Treasury proposed (Mar-2020) to appropriate USD50 billion to the Exchange Stabilization Fund (ESF) for secured lending to US passenger and cargo carriers.

CAPA, 23 March 2020, online

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03/23/20 Caribbean: Sandals to close resorts in Caribbean until May

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Sandals Resorts International will close its properties in the Caribbean until May 15th to protect guests and staff against the spread of Covid-19.

All resorts under both the Beaches and Sandals brand are expected to close their doors in March 30th

Breaking Travel News, 23 March 2020, online

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03/23/20 US: US hotels experience financial freefall

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Data from STR indicates that revenue per available room (RevPAR) at U.S. hotels dropped 32.5% for the week ended March 13.

Travel Weekly, 20 March 2020, online

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