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COVID-19: Travel industry news

Information that those working in the travel industry may find useful
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Overview

As the COVID-19 situation develops, we want to provide access to information that those working in the travel industry may find useful. These third-party articles give insight in relation to the impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry and more. All articles are available publicly and any opinion is that of the author and not necessarily a Travelport view.

Global

Articles - Global

06/04/20 Global: IATA’s director general says there are two headwinds in travel recovery

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IATA’s director general and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac, has said at the IATA media briefing on COVID-19, that “there will be at least two kinds of headwinds” to get people traveling by air again.; economic and confidence.  Economic headwinds are where the industry can be “reasonably confident in overcoming the hurdle of the pandemic” while the confidence headwinds are seen as the bigger challenge, such as government confidence to be able to open borders again. 

CAPA, 4 June 2020, Online 

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06/03/20 Global: Summer holiday searches rise despite travel uncertainties

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The searches for package holidays to popular European destinations have risen in the past two weeks as countries are now starting to reopen their borders to tourists. Interest in holidays to Spain between July 1 and October 31 have increased by 52%, Greece by 51% ,and Portugal by 38%. According to new data from TravelSupermarket, the ten most popular countries are 1. Spain, 2. US, 3. Greece, 4. Maldives, 5. Turkey, 6. Mexico, 7. Italy, 8. Portugal, 9. Cyprus, and 10. UAE. 

Travel Weekly, 3 June 2020, Online 

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05/29/20 Global: Virus tracking services could help fuel corporate travel to make a comeback

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Technology suppliers have been developing services to help clients bring back confidence in travel with tools such as virus trackers that are designed to give travel managers insights into outbreak hotspots and risks in specific markets. Swedish software company, Safeture, has successfully developed a COVID-19 exposure tracker that leverages their global data platform, to combine infection data for global subregions with individual employee travel patterns. 

Business Travel News, 29 May 2020, Online 

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05/29/20 Global: Accor campaign aims to 'Reignite the Love of Travel'

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Accor are starting to reopen some hotels. Accor has unveiled a new global campaign with the tagline ‘Reignite the Love of Travel’. The campaign is launching in hope to reassure and to recreate a desire to travel as restrictions start easing across many destinations. ‘Reignite the Love of Travel’ will start during the summer with a social media campaign inviting travelers to share their travel dreams and inspiration. They will be combined to create an inspirational montage-style travel film. 

Travel Weekly, 29 May, Online 

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05/26/20 Global: Global airline capacity down slightly this week

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OAG has reported that while global capacity has dipped by 2% to roughly 31m seats this week, in eight out of the ten largest regional markets capacity remained up. The largest growth this week was the lower South America and Southwest Pacific regions, capacity in South Asia went down by 40% compared to the previous week. Overall, global airline capacity remains 28% of what it was this time last year.  

Business Travel News, 26 May, Online 

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05/26/20 Global: Hotels ramp up cleaning measures

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In response to the coronavirus pandemic, hotel groups around the world are announcing new cleaning programs to reassure guests. The most common measures include increasing the frequency of cleaning public areas, increasing the number of hand sanitizers available, using specialized products for wiped downs, and training teams in protective protocols. 

Business Traveller, May 26 2020, Online 

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05/20/20 Global: Business travelers 'want empty middle seats' on flights

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The Global Business Travel Association survey drew responses from more than 1,700 member companies around the world. Three quarters (76%) said airlines should sanitize every traveler touchpoint before each flight to address health concerns. 60% want passengers to be required to wear face masks and 59% want middle seats left empty. These were the top-three COVID-19 safety measures companies identified. 

Travel Weekly, May 20 2020, Online 

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05/20/20 Global: Governments must work together to restart aviation to avoid confusion

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IATA’s director general, Alexandre de Juniac, has said that “governments must work together” in order to avoid confusion, and they must agree on global standards to re-start the industry by building measures that are continuously reviewed, but has also stated that there are “reasons to be optimistic”, identifying the initiative of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) called the COVID-19 Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) and IATA’s own road map to recovery – Biosecurity for Air Transport. 

Business Traveller, 20 May 2020, Online 

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05/20/20 Global: Principals for industry restart

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IATA has announced a series of commitments, agreed by the airline CEOs on its Board of Governors, of five principles for reconnecting the world by air transport. The principles include; aviation must always put safety and security first, aviation will respond flexibly as the crisis and science evolve, aviation will be a key driver for economic recovery, aviation will meet its environmental targets, and aviation will operate to global standards that are harmonized and mutually recognized by governments. 

Airlines IATA News, 20 May 2020, Online 

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05/19/20 Global: Airline industry struggles to come up with standard safety measures approach

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Measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 have changed the way people travel but those measures are different depending on the location. Thailand have stopped serving food and must wear masks, in Indonesia planes must be half-empty and, in the US & Europe, airlines must keep the middle seats opened. Boeing’s VP has said that they would like to see standardization of protocols while Finnair’s chief executive has said that because aircrafts are not designed to social-distance, other measures such as facemasks are needed. 

Gulf News, 19 May, Online 

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05/18/20 Global: Global airline capacity climbs above 30million

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This week, the global airline capacity grew for the second week in a row, with weekly scheduled seats back above 30m, up 6% from the previous week. The largest growth was in South Asia where capacity went up by 120% with over 1.7m seats added, which mainly comes from India’s domestic markets and some in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Global capacity does, however, remain 73% lower than the previous year but carriers around the world are hoping for significant capacity increase in June. 

Business Travel News, 18 May, Online 

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Europe

Articles - Europe

06/02/20 Europe: Harmonized measures in Europe

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The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre of Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) guidelines are aligned with recommendations provided for both the airline and airport sector. It is a layered approach of temporary measures to protect public health while allowing viable air services to help drive the European economic recovery. Some of the guidelines include physical distancing at airports should be maintained, the wearing of masks at all times in airport and on board and enhanced cleaning procedures in both the airport and aircraft are recommended.  

Airlines IATA, 2 June 2020, Online 

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06/03/20 Europe: Lufthansa will resume flying to more cities but with fewer flights

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The airlines strategy has been mapped out to what it thinks is the best route to recovery. The strategy is a combination of rapidly getting its network back up and running, while at the same time reducing its fleet.  By September, the airline expects to operate 40% of regular capacity, but serve 70% of its planned intercontinental destinations, and 90% of continental destinations. There is said to be 300 fewer planes flying in 2021. 

Skift, 3 June 2020, Online 

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06/04/20 UK: Eastern Airways restores regional routes

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Regional airports have been offered a lifeline with the planned resumption of flights by Eastern Airways. Routes are being restored from Southampton airport from June 22. The network will include Aberdeen, Belfast City, Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds Bradford, Teesside, and Dublin. Frequency will be increased “as appropriate” in July, August, and September to help restore connections to Southampton. In-flight service will initially be limited to reduce customer contact. 

Travel Weekly, 4 June 2020, Online 

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06/03/20 Europe: easyJet to operate 75% of routes by August

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easyJet says it plans to operate 50% of its routes in July, increasing to 75% in August. However, flight frequencies will equate to only 30% of easyJet’s normal July to August capacity. The airline says it will fly from all of its UK bases in July and August to a range of domestic, city, and beach destinations. 

Business Traveller, 3 June 2020, Online 

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06/03/20 UK: London City Airport to be operational by the end of June

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London City Airport announced it intends to reopen by the end of the month (June). The airport has been closed since March 25 due to a massive drop in demand as the primary demographic is business passengers. The reopening of London City will come with some new rules attached. The airport is asking passengers to observe social distancing and every passenger will have their temperature taken on arrival and departure from the airport.  

Simple Flying, 3 June 2020, Online 

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06/02/20 Netherlands: KLM to increase flights to southern Europe holiday hot spots in July

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KLM, the Dutch subsidiary of Air France-KLM, hopes to add a handful of long-haul destinations in July and increase flights to vacation spots in Southern Europe. The airline cut back 90% of its flight service in March after the outbreak of coronavirus. The airline proposed their July flight schedules represent 25-30% of what would be normal for the time of year. They are still negotiating a 2-4 billion euro bailout package from Dutch government. 

Reuters, 2 June 2020, Online 

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06/02/20 Europe: Italy opens up to encourage holiday bookings

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British visitors will be able to visit Italy with no quarantine restrictions from Wednesday, however the foreign office first needs to lift its overseas travel ban. The aim of the Italian Tourist Board is to encourage bookings to the country now that lockdown restrictions are being relaxed. Theatres, concert halls, cinemas and other outdoor spaces will open in Italy on June 15, following resorts, bars, restaurants and ice cream shops. 

Travel Weekly, 2 June 2020, Online 

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06/02/20 Europe: Flying in Europe this June

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The first thing to know before flying is which countries are allowing tourists. Germany, Austria, Iceland, Portugal, and Greece all plan to open their borders to EU nationals on June 15. Italy is set to open its borders June 3, while Spain will do so from July 1 onwards. The lifting of border restrictions will be a huge boost to the European tourism industry.  

Simple Flying, 2 June 2020, Online 

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06/01/20 UK: Hays Travel to push ahead with ex-Thomas Cook shop openings

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Hays Travel became the UK’s largest retailer when they acquired the leases for the entire Thomas Cook rail network. Hays Travel has “no plans to stop or stall” its schedule of opening former Thomas Cook shops in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact the pandemic has created means Hays will be renegotiating rents on the premises and taking up an extension on the date by which it could walk away from some leases without incurring costs. 

Travel Weekly, 1 June 2020, Online 

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06/01/20 Luxembourg: Inbound passengers to receive free COVID-19 test in Luxembourg

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After reopening on May 29, Luxembourg Findel Airport (LUX) is offering arriving passengers the chance to get tested for coronavirus for free. Passengers can get tested at the airport or any COVID-19 testing center in the country. The project is a joint venture between the airport and the government. It is expected to last one month but it could be extended depending upon the circumstances. Iceland will also be testing passengers arriving at Keflavík International Airport (KEF) from around June 15.  

Simple Flying, 1 June 2020, Online 

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05/29/20 Europe: European carriers take tentative steps to restoring networks

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Several European Operators have announced restoring their networks, which include the resumption of services by Lufthansa Group operators Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines in June. Other group carriers Air Dolomiti, Edelweiss, Eurowings and Swiss are also adding capacity in June. Iberia, which is  operating minimum services is gradually resuming its short and medium-haul flight programme from the start of July. Greek carrier Aegean Airlines will, from 15 June, restart flights from Thessaloniki to four German cities as well as Larnaca in Cyprus. 

Flight Global, 28 May, Online 

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28/05/20 Austria: Austrian Airlines will relaunch in mid-June

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Austrian Airlines has announced that it will return to the skies from June 15th, 2020. They plan to fly to almost 40 destinations by the end of June. The first scheduled flights since March will operate to Brussels, London and Paris. The airlines focus will be using smaller aircraft initially. Austrian will require passengers to bring their face covering and wear it at all times in Vienna airport and on-board flights.  

Simple Flying, 28 May, Online 

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05/26/20 Europe: Air France-KLM could operate trains on domestic routes

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In attempt to reduce its environmental footprint, Air France-KLM group is looking at introducing trains instead of planes on short-haul routes across Europe. The group already works with France’s national rail service so passengers can use air miles on TGV train journeys. TGV trains are considerably more environmentally friendly than shout-haul flights. Part of the reason for the sudden change is government-mandated conditions for state aid. 

Simple Flying, May 26 2020, Online 

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05/26/20 Spain: Spain produces guidelines for 'safe reopening' of tourism

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The Spanish Secretary of State for Tourism has published 12 guides detailing the specifications for the ‘safe reopening’ of Spain’s tourism industry and help reduce the spread of COVID-19. It includes specifications for service, cleaning and disinfection, maintenance and risk management and are designed to instruct the sector to restart its activity with ‘maximum safety’ and boost the confidence of travelers. Guides have been published with instructions and recommendations for hotels and tourist apartments, restaurants, travel agencies, golf courses, rural accommodation, spas, museums, tourist guides, information offices, hostels, camping sites, and active tourism. 

Travel Weekly, May 26 2020, Online 

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05/21/20 UK: Jet 2 owner bolsters finances with £170m share placing

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Dart Group has raised more than £170 million through a share placing. The proceeds add to £300 million secured by the company in a government COVID-19 loan and £100 million credit facility. The shares being issued represent 20% of the existing share capital of the group. 

Travel Weekly, May 21 2020, Online 

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05/21/20 Europe: easyJet to resume domestic UK and French services in June

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easyJet says it will resume a limited number of flights from June 15. They said that “The initial schedule will comprise mainly domestic flying in the UK and France”. The flights will restart from routes where there is believed to be a sufficient customer demand to support profitable flying. The airline has published health and hygiene measures which are being implemented “in consultation with aviation authorities ICAO and EASA, and inline with government and medical advice”. 

Business Traveller, May 21 2020, Online 

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05/20/20 Czech Republic: Czech Smartwings wants aid without giving government a stake

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Smartwings announced this week that it does not want to be taken over by Czech Republic as a way of being supported through the COVID-19 crisis. Smartwings wants state-backed guarantees to help cover its losses resulting from a full fleet grounding that lasted a month and a half. It is looking increasingly likely that the Czech government will indeed provide support for Smartwings without acquiring a stake in it. 

Simple Flying, May 20 2020, Online 

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05/20/20 France: Air France to retire its entire A380 fleet

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Air France says it will “phase out its entire A380 fleet”. The aircraft, currently in storage, will not return to scheduled (Air France) service. Air France wants to simplify its fleet to operate only modern A350s/B787s over long distance routes. Not stated by Air France, but another reason is the hefty refurbishment cost it would have incurred had it retained a few A380s. 

Business Traveller, May 20, 2020 Online 

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05/20/20 UK: Airlines oppose government quarantine restrictions

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The airline trade body believes a combination of passenger temperature checks and contact tracing means there is no need for arriving travelers to be placed in quarantine. The stance places airlines in direct conflict with UK government plans for 14-day isolation period for most arrivals in the country from next month. IATA Director General and Chief Executive Alexandre de Juniac said: “There is no single measure that will reduce risk and enable a safe re-start of flying.” “But layering measures that are globally implemented and mutually recognized by governments can achieve the needed outcome”. 

Travel Weekly, May 20 2020, Online 

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05/19/20 Germany: Lufthansa Group adapts flexible rebooking due to 'exceptional circumstances'

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Lufthansa Group airlines have now extended their period for passengers rebooking tickets for cancelled flights to December 31 next year. Originally Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines and Air Dolomiti had required travel to be taken by April 30, 2021. The rebooking will be at no additional cost. The new trip must consist of the same route and class. 

Travel Weekly, May 19, Online 

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05/19/20 France: Air France to increase flights in June

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At present the airline is serving just 43 destinations (3 to 5 per cent) of its usual schedule, mostly maintaining a Skelton service to the French regions and links with key destinations in Europe and Worldwide. The airline says it intends to gradually resume its flights. The flight schedule will be equivalent to 15 per cent of the capacities usually deployed at this time of year. The increases are subject to travel restrictions being lifted.  

Business Traveller, May 19, Online 

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Americas

Articles - Americas

06/04/20 US: US to block Chinese airlines from flying into the US

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The US government has stated it will block Chinese airlines from flying into the US in response to what it says is a policy that has prevented US carriers from services between the two countries. The DOT has said restrictions will take effect from June 16, but a few hours after the announcement, China’s civil aviation regulator said it will allow US passenger airlines to resume limited services to China. Delta, American, and United had all initially asked to resume trans-oceanic flights on June 1 but the Chinese aviation authorities had failed to permit the US carriers to do so. 

CNN, 4 June 2020, Online 

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06/03/20 US: Delta extends social distancing measures through September

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Delta Air Lines have announced they will extend social distancing measures on its flights through to September 20 and will block selections of middle seats. They will also cap seating in every cabin -  50% in first class, 60% in other cabins, and 75% in its Delta One cabins. The airline’s CEO, Ed Bastian, hopes that this will improve consumer’s perception of safety and encourage more travel. 

Reuters, 3 June 2020, Online 

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06/02/20 US: United plans to restart several international routes in July

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United Airlines are planning to resume some international flights in July that had been suspended due to COVID-19. They have said they hope to lessen the impact from 90% to 75% in July. Routes that are restarting include San Francisco to Hong Kong, Singapore, and Seoul; Washington to London, Munich, Brussels, and Zurich, and Chicago to Tokyo.  

Business Traveller, 2 June 2020, Online 

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06/01/20 South America: LATAM Airlines expects capacity to return to 18% in July

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Currently, LATAM group expects to operate between 5% and 9% of its pre-COVID-19 capacity in June, as Mexico is the only country that does not have any restrictions; Argentina and Colombia has banned any commercial flights until September, and Chile and Brazil still have restrictions for international travel only. LATAM does, however, expect to reach 18% in July and increase its cargo capacity. 

Simple Flying, 1 June 2020, Online 

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06/02/20 Chile: SKY Airlines to resume domestic operations

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SKY Airlines’ CEO, Jose Ignacio Dougnac, has announced SKY Airlines have resumed domestic operations since June 1. Currently there are six regional flights that have resumed including; Iquique, Calama, Antofagasta, Concepcion, Puerto Montt, and Balmacena. He added that these locations have “greater demand and relevance for the country. The objective is not to promote mass travel but to focus on destinations which play a relevant role today.” 

CAPA, 2 June 2020, Online 

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06/01/20 US: Frontier Airlines is now screening every passenger’s temperature

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Frontier Airlines has begun to screen the temperature of every person, both staff and passengers, boarding its aircraft, anyone with a temperature above 38 degrees will be denied boarding. The airline will also ask passengers COVID-19 related questions in regard to their well-being, as well as making sure they wear a mask on board. 

Simple Flying, 1 June 2020, Online 

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05/28/20 US: Southwest looks into corporate travel gains with new routes

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Southwest Airlines is making a play into corporate travel market share with added services from Phoenix, Denver, Las Vegas, and Nashville, as it expects business travel demand will begin to pick up again. Southwest EVP and chief commercial officer, Andrew Watterson, has said in a statement “We anticipate business travelers will be back with heightened focus on costs, so we are pairing unmatched schedules with our values and hospitality to welcome them back, and Southwest will be more primed to emerge as the preferred choice of corporate travel”. 

Business Travel News, 28 May 2020, Online 

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05/29/20 US: Southwest plans to return to full schedule by the end of the year with new route from Ontario to Houston

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Southwest has announced it plans to return to full schedule by the end of the year with a new route from Ontario International Airport to Houston’s William Hobby Airport, which will start on November 1. The chief executive of ONT has said that this announcement by Southwest is “A bold and encouraging prediction that they will return to the skies soon”. Before the pandemic, Southwest accounted for almost 50% of ONT’s commercial flights. 

CAPA, 29 May, Online 

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05/27/20 US: American Airlines sees positive signs of travel rebound

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American Airlines have announced they have seen signs of positive recovery and rebound in air travel. In a statement the airline’s chief executive said, “we are down by 90% but looks better as we look out to June”.  American Airlines also recorded the highest load factor since the outbreak of 56% over Memorial weekend as well as seeing more bookings being made for future travel. 

Flight Global, 27 May, Online 

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05/26/20 US: Leisure travel may be back on as numbers rise on Memorial Day

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Passenger travel was up through the Memorial Day weekend, with TSA screening over 1.5m passengers. It was a weekend where the airline industry could see whether people would get back on planes or not and trial ways to bring back more people on board. US carriers are slowly bringing back routes adding more flights to prepare for the summer.  

Simple Flying, 26 May 2020, Online 

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26/05/20 Panama: Copa Airlines to resume flights from June 26

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Panama’s flag carrier, Copa Airlines, has announced it will fly to 23 destinations from Tocumen International Airport from June 26, provided the authorities do not extend their international flight ban any further. They had initially added 31 destinations, but due to Colombia extending its ban on international flights until August 31, they have had to cut back. First flights will operate on June 26 and 29, and will become daily after July 3. 

MENAFN, 26 May 2020, Online 

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05/19/20 Ecuador: Ecuador puts TAME in liquidation

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The Ecuadorian government has started the liquidation process for their state airline, TAME EP, in order to reduce the number of institutions in the country. The airline will, however, keep operating flights for small towns where there is no other alternative travel. TAME has lost $400m over the last five years and IATA’s clearing house had also suspended the airline due to a lack of payment.   

Simple Flying, 19 May 2020, Online 

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05/19/20 US and Canada: US and CANADA slated to extend travel ban by 30 days

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Canada and the US have agreed to extend a ban on non-essential travel between the two nations by 30 days, and could be rolled over until June 21. The measure was initially introduced in mid-March and had been extended in April to May 21. 

Skift, 19 May 2020, Online 

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05/15/20 US: Delta to resume two routes to London and Frankfurt from May 21

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Delta has announced in a statement that it plans to resume transatlantic flights adding two routes between Atlanta, Frankfurt, Detroit, and London starting May 21. The flights will mainly cater for cargo but will have a few seats for passengers to travel. The airline has said that they have been losing up to $50m a day due to grounded fleets. Delta will also add cargo only flights to Mumbai as well as Shanghai and Seoul.

Simple Flying, 15 May 2020, Online

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04/14/20 Mexico: Mexico’s Los Cabos hopes to open all resorts by the end of June

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The local tourism board of Los Cabos, Mexico’s tourism hotspot, has said that they hope to begin reopening beach resorts near Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula in June. They hope to open 40% of the hotels on June 1, as well as adding more flights from the US. The tourism board has said that they expect to restore 60% of its air connectivity and 80% of bookings by the first quarter of 2021.

Skift, 14 May 2020, Online

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05/13/20 US: United will allow travelers to rebook flights off crowded flights

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United Airlines will allow passengers to rebook or claim travel credit on full/nearly full flights if passengers wish to sit in a less crowded plane. Around 85% of United’s flights are running at less than 50% capacity but some destinations have only one flight a day, which has meant that some flights are running closer to full capacity. 

Business Travel News, 13 May 2020, Online 

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05/12/20 US: DOT to allow US airlines to drop services to certain airports

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The United States DOT has allowed domestic airlines to reduce or drop services to certain airports after airlines raised the issues of impracticalities in light of the downturn in travel demand. Airlines, under the CARES Act, had been required to maintain skeleton services to most of their routes but the DOT has now allowed airlines to wind back or drop some services. Delta Airlines have announced they are stopping routes to 10 airports in the US. 

Simple flying, 12 May 2020, Online 

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11/05/20 US: Southwest and American Airlines adds international flights for June

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Southwest and American Airlines have added scheduled international flight services for June. Southwest has announced that they will recommence services to Cancun, San Jose del Cabo, Havana, Montego Bay and Nassau from June 7. American Airlines has already relaunched its Dallas – Madrid flight and will add Amsterdam and Frankfurt on June 4.

House Beautiful, 11 May, Online

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05/07/20 US: United outlines workforce reduction by 30%

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United Airlines have announced that they will be cutting their workforce by 30% from October 1 but until then have asked their staff to take 20 unpaid days off work. The 30% of its 12,000 pilots would be affected by a displacement which would mean reshuffling of pilots to adjust flying less and smaller fleets.

Flight Global, 07 May 2020, Online

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05/06/20 South America: ASUR announces total passenger traffic decreased by 96.3% in April 2020

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ASUR, a leading international airport group in the Americas, have announced that passenger traffic for April 2020 has decreased by 96.3% compared to the previous year in South America. Mexico was down 95.7%, Puerto Rico down by 94.5% and by 99.9% in Colombia. Mexico and Puerto Rico have currently not issued any fight restrictions but has requested that all inbound flights to Puerto Rico lands at LMM airport alone.

PR Newswire, 06 May 2020, Online

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05/05/20 US: US Treasury Secretary encourages Americans to consider domestic travel to reboot economy

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The US Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, has warned international travel may not resume until 2021 and has encouraged Americans to travel within the US. He says that they still want people to travel but for safety, to stay within the country, which would also help the economy open back up. The CEO of Southwest Airlines has stated that it is safe for travelers to travel again, adding that air traffic was gradually reviving.

Daily Mail, 05 May 2020, Online

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05/05/20 US: Alaska Airlines capacity drops 80% with $100m loss

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Alaska Airlines have released their first-quarter earnings report which reported a net loss of $102m. Their capacity for the last month has decreased by 80% compared to April 2019 and that will continue into this month. They currently have 156 mainline aircrafts parked up and is hoping to reduce is cash burn per month to $200m from $260m. They have also secured some funding through credit facilities, CARES Act, secured financing, and a long-term loan.

Simple Flying, 05 May 2020, Online

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05/05/20 Canada: Air Canada launches CleanCare+ program to reassure travelers

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Air Canada has launched the CleanCare+ program, an enhanced aircraft cleaning and passenger checks before they board, which will operate until the end of June. Passengers will also have to answer health questionnaires as well as being provided with care kits on board.  

Breaking Travel News, 5 May 2020, Online 

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05/04/20 US: Flights and passenger numbers increasing

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Although many airlines’ fleets are still grounded, data from the TSA show that passenger numbers in the US are on the rise, with 172,563 people passing – the highest since late March. Some airlines are starting to add more flights and planning resumption, such as Hawaiian airlines resuming flight to Seattle and United restarting 7 routes in June. 

Forbes, 4 May 2020, Online 

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05/01/20 US: American Airlines and United report $4bn in combined losses

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American Airlines announced that they have lost more than $2.2bn and United $1.7bn in the first quarter of 2020. Many of the other airlines in the US have been hit hard by the pandemic, as air passenger numbers dropped by 95%. Delta announced last week their losses of $534m and Southwest $94m. American Airlines is currently the worst hit airline with the company saying it is burning roughly around $70m a day. 

NPR, 1 May, Online 

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04/30/20 US: United Airlines says the pandemic is worst crisis in aviation history

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United Airlines reported an even narrower quarterly loss dubbing it “the most disruptive global crisis in the history of aviation”. United has said that they have lost $1.7bn or $6.86 a share in the first quarter compared to last year with earnings of $292m. United have so far lost 67% of its shares this year. 

Market Watch, 30 April, Online 

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04/30/20 Caribbean: Caribbean set for $2.5bn COVID-19 rescue funding

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The Caribbean is set to receive $2.5bn recovery funds in aid with the effects of COVID-19. Tourism faced a ‘sudden stop’ due to the pandemic which is projected to cause 6.2% in economic contraction, the deepest recession there in 50 years. Tourism in some of the Caribbean countries' accounts for 50-90% of their GDP and employment. Request for a rapid credit facility by Haiti, Dominica, St. Lucia and Grenada have been approved. 

Travel Weekly, 30 April 2020, Online 

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04/30/20 US: JetBlue becomes first US airline to require passengers to wear masks

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JetBlue has become the first US airline to make it compulsory for passengers to wear face masks, starting May 4. The chief operating officer of JetBlue has said that air filters will be cleaned every few minutes to ensure that the cabin air is clean. 

NPR, 29 April 2020, Online 

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04/29/20 US: United halts 2 London routes and seasonal Edinburgh services

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Both Denver and Houston are set to lose direct flights to LHR this summer due to demand falling significantly. They have also cut back on their seasonal service between Newark and Edinburgh. United Airlines networked has plunged by 68% in April but will now be reduced to 90% in May. The US ban on immigration entry will also further affect demand for United Airlines’ services there. 

Simple Flying, 29 April, Online 

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Asia Pacific

Articles - APAC

06/04/20 South-east Asia: Cheap holidays to target locals across countries in SEA

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Hotels and travel sectors in South-east Asia’s tourism reliant countries have slowly started re-opening their doors for locals and domestic tourism. Airlines and hotels are significantly lowering rates to lure locals. Do Trang Phuong, an operating manager of Hanoi’s travel company, has said it costs as little as $116 for locals to travel by air for a two night stay a beachside hotel – a saving of nearly 70% from pre-pandemic prices. 

The Japan Times, 4 June 2020, Online 

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06/03/20 Vietnam: Vietnam Airlines grows domestic network after full restoration of flights

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Vietnam Airlines announced they had completely restored all domestic routes on May 29. A further announcement on June 2 detailed the opening of six new routes within their domestic market this month. Vietnam Airlines had in fact increased its flights on May 29 by 36%, compared to the previous year. Vietnam has been successful in controlling the impacts of COVID-19 and on April 23, more than 500,000 people flew on Vietnam Airlines on their domestic routes. 

Simple Flying, 3 June 2020, Online 

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06/03/20 Asia-Pacific: AAPA urges governments to move ahead with aviation restart guided by ICAO

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The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) has welcomed the publication of comprehensive guidance material by the ICAO, in support of coordinated efforts to restart international air travel. The guidance includes “pragmatic and sensible measures that are globally and regionally harmonized and mutually accepted” according to AAPA’s general director Subhas Menon. He has also urged governments to “move ahead with the initiatives to restart international aviation in line with broader recovery plans”. 

CAPA, 3 June 2020, Online 

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06/03/20 Singapore: Singapore Airlines plans to restart operations to Australia

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Singapore Airlines (SIA) is planning to restart services to Australia over the next two months. SIA are the third largest carrier to and from Australia with over 140 weekly flights. Melbourne will have two return services a week, Adelaide will have one return service, Sydney the most with five, and Brisbane two. New Zealand is also back in operation for SIA, with two weekly flight services to Christchurch and Auckland. 

Simple Flying, 3 June 2020, Online 

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06/02/20 Russia: Aeroflot Group identifies seven key measures for navigating the COVID-19 impact

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Aeroflot Group has identified seven key measures to navigate through the impact of the pandemic and the results to be achieved by each measure, including; optimization of key fixed costs and capital expenditure, negotiations with partners and suppliers for special terms, restructuring aircraft deliveries to later periods, focus on domestic market and launch new destinations, and reduce operations and variable costs. 

CAPA, 2 June 2020, Online 

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06/01/20 Philippines: Philippine Airlines plan flight resumption from this week

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Philippine Airlines (PAL) announced last week that they plan to resume flights from this week as travel restrictions gradually ease. They also added that key international and domestic flights are planned to resume during June, with initial operations of 21 international and 24 domestic routes. PAL was one of the first airlines to provide PPE for crews, and they are now going a step further, announcing that all crew members will undergo rapid antibody testing before the flight. 

Simple Flying, 1 June 2020 , Online 

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01/06/20 China: Hong Kong airport gradually opens transit for passengers

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Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) has started allowing some transit passengers to use the airport, starting June 1. This, however, only applies to those that have been checked through at the origin port and take transfer flights operated by the same airline group. Entry of non-Hong Kong residents coming in from overseas is still banned and will be denied entry at the airport. 

Flight Global, 1 June 2020, Online 

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06/01/20 Singapore: Singapore Airlines and SilkAir to reinstate flights for some destinations in June and July

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Singapore Airlines (SIA) and regional airline SilkAir will restart some flights in June and July to destinations including; Australia, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Japan, and Hong Kong. With these flights restarting, the capacity cuts for SIA have gone from 96% to 94% and they have said that they will continue to adjust the capacity to match the demand for international travel. 

Channel News Asia, 1 June 2020, Online 

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06/01/20 Singapore: Singapore in discussion with South Korea and Australia to restart travel

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Singapore is in discussion with South Korea and Australia to resume travel, labeled the ‘Green-lane’ arrangements, that would allow travel within states that have the COVID-19 situation controlled. New Zealand and Malaysia are also involved, while China has already successfully established the arrangement with Singapore, which will begin this month. 

Simple Flying, 1 June 2020, Online 

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06/01/20 Australia: WA government announces ‘phase three’ of roadmap to ease COVID-19 restrictions

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The McGowan government of Western Australia has announced phase three of the roadmap to ease COVID-19 restrictions within WA, with changes coming into effect from Saturday June 6. WA is the first state in Australia to remove the four-square meter rule, replacing it with a two-square meter rule for indoor and outdoor venues as well as bringing the gatherings capacity limit up to 100 people. The roadmap is the state government’s four-phased plan to safely restart WA’s economy. 

CAPA, 1 June 2020, Online 

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05/29/20 Pakistan: Pakistan resumes departing international flights

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Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority announced on Friday that the government plans to allow local and foreign airlines to resume departing international services from all airports in Pakistan, except from Gwadar International Airport and Turbat Airport, from May 30. International and domestic flights have been suspended since March, apart from international repatriation flights. 

Reuters, 29 May 2020, Online 

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27/05/20 South-east Asia: ASEAN ministers consider creating ‘travel bubble’

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Countries in South-east Asia are considering creating the ‘travel bubble’ to resume travel safely. The topic was discussed at the last Mekong Tourism Advisory Group meeting to kickstart tourism in the region, as well as discussions of developing standardized measures for health insurance. They have said that the bubble will start off with neighboring countries and develop a system that enables travel without a need to quarantine. 

Simple Flying, 27 May 2020, Online 

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China: China in talks of tripling international flights

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China’s aviation authority, CAAC, has announced it will consider increasing international flights as long as imported COVID-19 risks are under control. Currently, the maximum number of international flights allowed is 134 a week, due to restrictions put place on March 29 to stop more cases of the virus being imported but could be increased to 407 a week from June 1. Mainland carriers are allowed to fly one flight a week on one route to any country, while foreign airlines are allowed to operate one flight to China a week. 

Skift, 27 May, Online 

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05/21/20 Australia: States in row over opening boarders for domestic tourism

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The Australian prime minister has announced he wants to remove all social distancing restrictions by July under a three-step plan, but the implementation is down to the leaders of individual states who disagree on how safe it is to allow the removal of restrictions. New South Wales has called for all boarders to be opened as a critical part of restarting the economy while Queensland says to keep it closed. Domestic tourism spending was A$80.7bn last year which accounts for almost half of tourism spending in the country. 

Skift, 21 May 2020, Online 

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05/21/20 Singapore: Changi airport to start transit flights in June

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Singapore’s Changi airport, the regional and tourism hub, will gradually allow travelers to transit through from June 2. Since March visitors were banned from entering transit unless from a repatriation flight as part of their security measures to combat COVID-19. Changi Airport is among one of the world’s busiest airports but only recorded 25,200 passengers in April, down 99.5% from the previous year. 

Skift, 21 May 2020, Online 

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05/20/20 Turkey: Turkish Airlines extends flight suspension to mid-June

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Turkish Airlines have announced plans to further suspend flights, domestic flights will now resume on June 4 while international flights will not start until June 10. Turkey has been cautious of the situation and keeping a close eye, given the uncertain nature of the pandemic, and has decided to delay resumption of such activities. 

Simple Flying, 20 May 2020, Online 

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05/19/20 India: SpiceJet and Air India start flight ticket bookings for June

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A number of airlines have started accepting passenger bookings for domestic travel in June, including IndiGo and Vistara. SpiceJet have said that their international bookings are closed until June 15, while Air India have said that it will resume domestic flights after a directive comes in from the Union Government. However, the president of Air Passengers Association for India has urged passengers “not to fall” for the bookings of international flights claiming the money used to buy tickets would become a “credit shell”. 

Live mint, 19 May, Online 

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05/19/20 Australia: Qantas group announces ‘fly Well’ to prepare for travel restriction easing

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Qantas group has announced the ‘fly Well’ program which includes a range of measures to ensure a safe travel environment such as masks and hand sanitizing stations on board as well as more flexibility on bookings. Qantas and Jetstar will both roll out a series of wellbeing improvements in preparation for domestic travel easing. The fly Well program will start from June 12. 

CAPA, 19 May, Online 

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05/14/20 Russia: Russian government grants subsidies to COVID-19 hit airlines

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Russia’s government is allocating $314m to the country’s carriers to provide financial support after passenger traffic went down by 93% in April, due to COVID-19. Aeroflot, Rossiya, and Ural Airlines’ passenger numbers fell by 92-95% while Utair and S7 Group’s figures were down by 89% and 79% respectively. Airlines receiving the support must continue operations and maintain an employee count at least 90% of the level on January 1. 

Flight Global, 14 May 2020, Online 

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05/15/20 Singapore: Singapore Airlines reports first annual net loss in 48-year history

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Singapore Airlines (SIA) Group has reported a net loss of $212m for 12 months ending March 31. The group has said that it had lost $732m in January to March this year due to the pandemic. SIA announced its first round of flight cuts in late March, cutting 96% of scheduled flights due to COVID-19, this has been extended until the end of June. The drop in passenger traffic also lead to a 22% decline in revenue compared to the same period last year.

Business Traveller, 15 May 2020, Online

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05/15/20 Japan: Japan Airlines revises June 2020 schedule and announces capacity cuts

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Japan Airlines (JAL) has announced that it plans to revise its flight frequency plans for June and will reduce around 96% of its international services. The airline will continue to operate cargo flights as normal.

CAPA, 15 May, Online

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05/13/20 Australia: Australia’s Rex studies the launch of capital city flights

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Australia’s Regional Express (Rex) has confirmed plans to expand into capital city flights within Australia after being approached by stakeholders who are interested in providing the equity needed for Rex to start domestic operations in Australia. In a statement, Rex has said that the estimate of equity required is around $130m and the structure is yet to be determined.  

Flight Global, 13 May 2020, Online 

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05/13/20 Thailand: Thai AirAsia parent company reports first-quarter loss

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Thai AirAsia’s parent company has reported an operational loss of Bt1.37bn ($2.7m) in the first quarter of 2020 compared to a profit of Bt1.12bn last year. This was largely due to their loss of revenue, which fell to Bt9.4bn, down 19.1% at the end of the quarter. Thai AirAsia has currently suspended international flights until May 31. 

Flight Global, 13 May 2020, Online 

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12/05/20 Singapore: Changi airport closes terminal 4 indefinitely from May 16

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Singapore’s Changi airport will temporarily close its terminal 4 from May 16 and hopes to re-open once air travel demand picks up and airlines starts seeking to fly from the airport again. Airlines currently operating in T4 will fly from T1 and T3 until operations resume at T4. Changi airport saw passenger numbers drop by 99.5% in April compared to the previous year.

Flight Global, 12 May, Online

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11/05/20 China: China leads global air capacity growth

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Global airline capacity has increased by 2% to 29.8m seats this week, with capacity up in 8 of 17 regional markets. China is leading this, adding 1m extra seats mostly within the domestic market. This equates to a recovery of about 75% compared to where it was prior to the pandemic. South America has also increased its capacity by 13.8%.

Business Travel News, 11 May, Online

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05/07/20 India: Air India opens bookings for passengers to Singapore, London, and US

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Air India have announced that they have opened bookings for travel to Singapore, London, and some US cities. This comes under India’s ‘Vande Bharat Mission’ which aims to move people that are stranded in various parts of the world. The flights will operate between May 8 and May 14. There are currently 64 flights that have been organized for this operation.

Business Traveller, 07 May 2020, Online

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05/06/20 Indonesia: Garuda Indonesia receives $382m from BRI to fund working capital

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Indonesia’s national flag carrier, Garuda Indonesia, has received loans of $382m from state-owned Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI) including $50m short-term loan as well as $132m loan facility of which half is for its subsidiary LLC – Citilink Indonesia. These funds will help with the airline’s working capital including paying for fuel, airplane lease, and supporting the company’s main business.

The Jakarta Post, 06 May 2020, Online

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05/06/20 China: Hong Kong airport tests full body disinfectant booths

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Hong Kong airport has started testing a full-body disinfectant machine, CleanTech, that sprays sanitizers onto passengers at the airport as well as temperature checks. The airport has said that these booths are equipped with antimicrobial coating which can kill viruses and bacteria on humans and clothing. Currently the airport is carrying out tests to coat “high-touch” surfaces such as handles and smart check-in kiosks with the same antimicrobial coating.

Business Traveller, 06 May 2020, Online

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05/05/20 APAC: Governments cautious on cross-border travel

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Governments in the APAC region are taking a tentative approach to opening their borders for international travel, with the possibility of the “Trans-Tasman Bubble”, which was discussed by the leaders of New Zealand and Australia. Singapore has also had a conference with leaders of some APAC countries to discuss plans for the movements of goods, services, and essential people. 

Flight Global, 5 May 2020, Online 

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05/05/20 Australia: Virgin Australia seeks $130m to stay alive

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New report shows that Virgin Australia had under $20m to spare when it went into voluntary administration, causing their administrators, Deloitte, to borrow around $129m to keep the airline flying. The money has been reported to be used to keep the current skeleton services flying while the airline is preparing for sale. Bids for Virgin Australia are due in mid-May. 

Simple Flying, 5 May 2020, Online 

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05/01/20 Pakistan: Pakistan granted permission for 12 repatriation flights

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Pakistan has been given the permission to operate 12 repatriation flights from the US. It had been deemed as a difficult task to do so as direct flights between Pakistan and the US had been banned for some time, due to security reasons. Pakistan will be allowed to operate 12 one way or return flights before the end of April 2021. 

Simple Flying, 1 May, Online 

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05/01/20 India: Indian Airlines to be given 10 days’ notice of flight resumptions

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The government in India is planning to give airlines a ‘ten-day warning’ before domestic flights resume, with bookings also opening ten days prior to the resumption – which is thought to be sometime in early June. The 10 days is thought to give airline’s enough time to conduct steps, such as maintenance and safety, in order to prepare for flying. 

Simple Flying, 1 May, Online 

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05/01/20 APAC: Cirium’s new report shows increase passenger numbers

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Recent data from Cirium’s new analysis shows that there has been an up rise in the global passenger flights over the last week, as countries in Asia-Pacific such as China begins to relax travel restrictions. New data recorded on April 28 shows a 4% increase in scheduled passenger flights flown compared to April 21.   

Breaking Travel News, 1 May, Online 

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04/28/20 Turkey: Turkish Airlines extends flight cancelations until late May

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Turkish Airlines will not operate any commercial flights until May 28 after it was deemed unsafe to fly before then. The airline has announced that they have suspended all its flights – domestic and international. Another reason for the extension of suspension is due to many of their routes flying to the US, which has currently shut off all international flights, would cause financial losses to the airline. Turkish Airlines are however continuing with their cargo flights to aid transferring vital goods. 

Simple Flying, 28 April, Online 

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04/21/20 Asia: Asia aviation slowly starting to rebuild

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Research conducted by Cirium shows that, although Asia experienced one of the worst falls in aviation in February and cancellations still high, the number of domestic flights within China has recovered slightly. Currently the number of seats within Europe has declined by 94%, North America by 63% and Asia down by 47%. 

Cirium, 21 April, Online 

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04/28/20 Pakistan: Pakistan extends international flight suspension until mid-May

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Pakistan as announced it will be extending its international flight ban until May 15 as cases of COVID-19 continues to grow. Repatriation flights will continue to bring back those stranded in other countries, as Pakistan has the 6th largest diaspora in the world. 

Simple Flying, 28 April 2020, Online 

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04/28/20 Hong Kong: Cathay Pacific to increase international flights in June

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Cathay Pacific and its regional wing Cathay Dragon intends to increase their flying capacity from 3% to 5% between June 21 and 30. The carrier initially reduced their capacity by 97% in April and will continue until June 21. 

Business Traveller, 28 April 2020, Online 

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04/28/20 Australia: Travel ban may continue for at least six months, but interstate could resume earlier

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Australia’s social distancing restrictions have been eased with others set to follow in the coming weeks. However overseas holidays will have to wait until October at the earliest after officials warned that the ban will not be lifted for another six months. Experts have however predicted that interstate travel could be allowed as early as August. The state and federal leaders will meet on May 11 to discuss which measures will be eased. 

Daily Mail, 28 April 2020, Online 

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04/28/20 Oceana: New Zealand and Australia opens after coronavirus success

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New Zealand and Australia has begun easing up social distancing restrictions after both countries reported a drastic fall in new infections and the Pacific nation reduced its COVID-19 alert level. Some non-essential businesses will be able to start opening in New Zealand as well as Australia opening its famous Bondi Beach.  

Financial Times, 28 April 2020, Online 

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04/27/20 New Zealand: Air New Zealand permanently cuts some routes amid COVID-19

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Air New Zealand has suspended its Auckland- Buenos Aires and LA-London routes due to the damage and impact caused by COVID-19. The airline has also postponed its Auckland-NY services until late 2021. 

Breaking Travel News, 27 April 2020, Online 

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04/27/20 APAC: AirAsia resumes operations with mandatory masks and distancing

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AirAsia will resume flying domestic routes again starting May 1. Thailand will see scheduled flights start May 1, while flights to India will resume May 4, Indonesia May 7, and the Philippines May 15. Passengers are told they must wear a face mask before, during, and after their flight. Passengers will have their temperatures taken at boarding gates. These temperature checks will also take place for AirAsia crew members before and after shift changes.  

Simple Flying, 27 April 2020, Online  

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04/27/20 APAC: Singapore Airlines cancels most flights until end of June

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Singapore Airlines (SIA) has extended its flight cancellations until the end of June in response to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. The carrier will continue to only fly to 15 destinations until the end of June. The airline said customers whose flights were cancelled by SIA or SilkAir will retain the full value of unused portion of their tickets as flight credits. Singapore Airlines is offering complimentary rebooking for all SIA and SilkAir tickets issued between March 5 and June 30. 

Business Traveller, 27 April 2020, Online 

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04/27/20 APAC: Vietnamese domestic air market starts to rebound

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Vietnam’s domestic air market is starting to rebound with carriers offering a decent run of domestic flights. Airlines in Vietnam are seeing a slight uptick in demand and are preparing to increase capacity in 2020 gradually. Vietnam Airlines is flying up to eight daily flights on the busy Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City route, with VietJet offering six daily flights, and Bamboo Airways offering about four daily flights. Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City is one of the busiest routes in the world. Domestic flights are not always significant sources for revenue for airlines but in this climate, it is better than nothing. 

Simple Flying, 27 April 2020, Online 

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04/24/20 Indonesia: Indonesia bans all air travel until June 1

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Indonesia’s transport ministry has said that they will ban all air travel until June 1. This will, however, not include repatriation flights for Indonesian national and foreign citizens. Indonesia’s major airlines have already significantly cut down capacity on both international and domestic routes. 

Business Traveller, 24 April 2020, Online 

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04/23/20 Singapore: Singapore Airlines offers complimentary rebooking for new tickets

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Singapore Airlines are offering free rebooking for all SIA and SilkAir tickets issued between March 5 and June 30. This comes as the carrier recently announced that it would extend its flight suspensions until the end of May.  

Business Traveller, 23 April 2020, Online 

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04/23/20 New Zealand: Air New Zealand to bring back stranded nationals form India

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Air New Zealand has started operating repatriation flights to bring back New Zealand nationals from India. Three return flights have been scheduled between Auckland-Delhi and Auckland-Mumbai between April 22-30.  

Business Traveller, 23 April 2020, Online 

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04/22/20 South Korea: State banks to provide up to $1.4bn liquidity to aid Asiana Airlines

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South Korea’s Asiana Airlines has received additional loans from two state banks worth $1.4bn. The banks had already extended $1.3bn of loans to the airline last year due to financial difficulties the airline was facing. A deal was signed in December for a Hyundai Development-led consortium to buy a 31% stake to take over Asiana Airlines but it has not yet been approved. 

Flight Global, 22 April 2020, Online 

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04/21/20 Australia: Virgin Australia plans bare bones flight service as administrators look for buyers

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Virgin Australia will continue to operate its current bare-bones services while external administrators search for buyers in order for the airline to survive its financial crisis. This comes after the Australian government rejected bailing out the airline by refusing to loan $200m. Despite this, the airline has said that they will continue to operate flights to help transport key workers and bring Australian nationals' home.  

The Guardian, 21 April 2020, Online 

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04/21/20 China: Chinese airline market faces consolidation

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A HSBC global research report into the Chinese aviation industry has said that it does not “rule out the possibility of further consolidation” adding that China’s largest airlines would likely lead the efforts. The report also suggests that China’s fourth largest carrier, Hainan Airlines, is a key target given its financial difficulties over the years. 

Flight Global, 21 April 2020, Online 

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04/20/20 India: Indian carriers to fully refund 'lockdown' tickets

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Indian airlines have been asked to issue a full refund for tickets booked for travel during the country’s recently extended lockdown period. For both domestic and international flights the airlines must complete refunds within three weeks of passengers requesting them. Before the Directive General of Civil Aviation announcement, most airlines declined to provide refunds and instead offered credit that could be used at a future date. The measure means cash outlay and subject to a three-week deadline for the carriers which is one more setback as they, like many airlines globally, struggle to stay afloat amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Flight Global, 20 April 2020, Online

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04/20/20 Australia: Virgin Australia goes into administration

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Virgin Australia has said that it is going into voluntary administration and will close after the business day Monday (April 20). An international airline and private equity firm have combined forces in an attempt to acquire Virgin Australia. The airline had been backed into a corner as an application made to the government for a USD$890m loan had been rejected.

Simple Flying, 20 April 2020, Online

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04/19/20 South Korea: Korean Airlines seeking bailout as airline cuts cost

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The South Korean government is under pressure to form a deal that would help bailout Korean Airlines. Although the initial announcement of the financial package was made on March 24, airlines are having to take matters into their own hands as it has not been specified how the package worth $1.6bn would be split between all companies in South Korea.

Simple Flying, 19 April 2020, Online

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04/19/20 Asia: AirAsia announces domestic flight resumptions

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Low-cost carrier AirAsia has announced that they will start operating domestic flights in Malaysia on April 29th with other countries starting in the days after. Currently 96% of its fleets are parked, and the government is yet to approve this, but the airline is hopeful for a slow recovery.

Simple Flying, 19 April 2020, Online

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04/17/20 China: Cathay Pacific to close US bases

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Cathay Pacific will close its cabin and crew bases in the US. This also impacts employees as 300 members of its staff are going to be laid off. Hong Kong’s flag carrier said its bases in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles are “no longer viable”. This change affects 286 staff working across bases in the US. 

Business Traveller, 17 April, Online 

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17/04/20 Thai VietJet plans new China route for winter season 2020/21

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Thai VietJet plans new China route for winter season 2020/21 

Currently the airline has suspended both domestic and international services from its base in Bangkok. Thai VietJet will launch a new service linking Bangkok and Haikou in China by late October. This service will supposedly feature in the carrier’s winter season plans for 2020/21 subject to Covid 19. The airline will fly the route three times a week using A320 with 180 seats.  

Travel media daily, 17 April, Online 

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04/16/20 APAC: Cathay Pacific ‘exploring all options’ as passenger traffic drops by 90%

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In Cathay Pacific’s latest passenger traffic figures for March it shows a drastic drop in the number of passengers it carried compared to the same month last year. Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon carried a total of 311, 128 passengers last month, a decrease of 90% compared to March 2019. The Hong Kong-based carrier will be operating a “bare skeleton” passenger flight schedule in April comprising 3% of its normal capacity.  

Business Traveller, 16 April, Online 

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04/16/20 APAC: Thailand bans all international passenger flights until 30 April

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Thailand has banned all international passenger aircraft from landing in the country until 30 April to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The exceptions to the ban will only apply to state or military aircraft, emergency landings, aircraft making technical stops, cargo and repatriation, as well as those operations humanitarian, medical and relief flights. Bangkok Airways has shut the three airports that it operates until 30 April. 

Flight Global, 16 April, Online 

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04/16/20 APAC: Asian economies will see their growth come to a halt this year amid the coronavirus pandemic

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Asia is said to be faced with no economic growth in 2020 and it will be the worst growth performance in almost 60 years. Chang Yong Rhee, director of the IMF’s Asia and Pacific’s department claims it is worse than the Global Financial Crisis. Central banks across Asia have engaged in various monetary policy efforts, including government bonds to prevent their economies from collapsing during the crisis. China is the only country expected to grow at 1.2% in 2020, compared to 6.1% in 2019. It has been warned that the global economy is going to face a severe recession that is worse since the Great Depression of the 1930s. 

Business Insider, 16 April, Online 

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04/15/20 India: Indian airlines issue new cancellation rules

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After the Directorate General of Civil Aviation India made an announcement yesterday to suspend all domestic and international flights until May 3, many of India’s carriers have said that they have amended refund rules by saying it is unlikely passengers would get a cash refund. They have, however, said that passengers will be able to reschedule without additional fees. 

Business Traveller, 15 April 2020, Online 

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04/14/20 APAC: Number of flights operated by APAC carriers down by 93%

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The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) has called on governments in the region to re-think its operation regarding the aviation industry, such as relaxing slot constraints and curfews on operating hours. Some APAC carriers have been operating on an AD-HOC basis to bring stranded passengers home.  

Travel Trends Today, 14 April 2020, Online 

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04/14/20 India: India to extend flight suspension until May 3rd

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India will suspend all scheduled passenger flights for nearly three more weeks after the country extended the lockdown. The CAA says that all scheduled airline operations will remain suspended until May 3 but does not apply to cargo operations and specially approved fights. The government first banned international flights on March 22 and has since affected over 600 aircraft.   

Flight Global, 14 April 2020, Online 

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04/13/20 China: Green shoots appear in China

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Reports amongst some travel managers that demand for domestic travel is beginning to increase but it is too early to cite recovery. The number of business deals has been increasing and with that so has corporate optimism.

TTG MICE, 13 April 2020, Online

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04/13/20 Asia: WTTC say travel and tourism is key to recovery

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According to an economic report by WTTC, travel and tourism represented 9.8% of the region’s economy, with a growth rate of 5.5% from the previous year. The study also showed that over the last five years the sector created 21 million new jobs in the region.

TTG Asia, 13 April 2020, Online

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04/13/20 Asia: Social distancing and lockdown extensions

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Governments from various Asian countries are increasing measures around social distancing and extending lockdowns as COVID-19 crisis continues. Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, and India have all increased measures recently.

TTG Asia, 13 April 2020, Online

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Middle East and Asia

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06/03/20 MEA: Qatar Airways targets Italy as borders reopen

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Qatar Airways is raising frequency on selected European routes with an emphasis on Italy as the country reopens borders to tourists following the COVID-19 lockdown. Venice will become the third Italian destination to see flights from Doha resume on July 15. This will follow increased flights to daily services to Milan, Rome, and Dublin from June 13.  

Travel Weekly, 3 June 2020, Online 

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06/02/20 South Africa: Airlink to resume domestic flights with new trunk route services

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South Africa: Airlink to resume domestic flights with new trunk route services 

Airlink will launch a limited scheduled domestic air service from Monday June 8, with flights on the Johannesburg-Cape Town and Johannesburg-Durban trunk routes, using 98-seat Embraer E190 regional jets. This follows the implementation of South Africa’s COVID-19 “Level 3” restrictions, which permits a three-phase resumption of domestic flights. 

CAPA, 2 June 2020, Online 

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06/01/20 UAE: Etihad launches new 'Wellness Ambassadors'

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Etihad Airways is to train up a team of ‘Wellness Ambassadors’ as part of its expanded health and hygiene program. Once travel restrictions are lifted the carrier says specially trained ambassadors will be introduced at Abu Dhabi International Airport and on Etihad flights. Ambassadors will be able to “offer reassurance to customers by sharing advice on travel wellbeing and details on the health and sanitation measures being implemented throughout their journey”. The team will be available by email and are also set to be expanded to include a web-chat option. 

Business Traveller, 1 June 2020, Online 

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05/31/20 North Africa: Reopened Egypt hotels close to reaching reduced 25% occupancy levels

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Hotels in Egypt which reopened with occupancy capped at just a quarter are full according to reports this weekend. Airports in Egypt remain closed to international flights after they were suspended in March. Hotels are now being allowed to re-open at a reduced capacity, however, they have to be able to operate according to health and safety protocols and social distancing. The Egyptian government hopes to be able to increase the hotel occupancy levels to 50% in June. 

Travel Weekly, 31 May 2020, Online 

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05/26/20 UAE: Abu Dhabi introduces 'safe and clean' initiative

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The ‘safe and clean’ certification scheme is being introduced by the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism. Claimed to be the first of its kind in the Gulf region, the initiative seeks to improve and standardize cleanliness and hygiene levels across all businesses and organizations in the tourism sector. The program will be introduced in phases, starting with hotels, with other tourism attractions and businesses to follow. 

Travel Weekly, May 26 2020, Online 

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05/27/20 Middle East: Domestic aviation to return in Saudi Arabia

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Saudi Arabia has announced the resumption of domestic flights more than two months after they were suspended. From May 31st, Saudi-based carriers will be permitted to offer flights within the country. The Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation said in a statement “The resumption of domestic flights will be phased, to cover all domestic destinations within two weeks”. 

Breaking Travel News, 27 May, Online 

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05/21/20 South Africa: South Africa puts aside more money for struggling SAA

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$212 million has been “provisionally” set aside by the government for the airline this current financial year.  This comes despite earlier assurances from the government that there would be no more money for the state-owned carrier. South African Airways has been mired in financial, management, and government interference problems for years. The South African government last week asked for a business plan to be delivered within 25 days.  

Simple Flying, May 21 2020, Online 

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05/15/20 Middle East: Qatar Airways extends flexible booking policy

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Qatar Airways has made changes to its booking policies which will offer “even greater choice and peace of mind to passengers when planning travel”. Some of the changes include the ability to make unlimited date changes, as well as the option to make multiple changes to the destination, providing it is within 5,000 miles of the original one. No fare differences will be charged for travel completed before December 31 and all tickets booked for travel up until that date will be valid for two years from the date of issuance.

Business Traveller, 15 May 2020, Online

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05/14/20 MEA: Air Arabia reports first quarter 2020 net profit of AED 71 million

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Air Arabia reported a profitable first quarter of 2020 (January to March), despite the COVID-19 impact on the carrier’s first quarter financial and operational performance. The airline reported a net profit of 71 million, 45 percent less than the corresponding 2019 figure of AED128 million. More than 2.4 million passengers flew with Air Arabia between January and March 2020 across the carrier’s four hubs, 14 per cent lower than the number of passengers carried in the first quarter of last year.

CAPA, 14 May 2020, Online

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05/14/20 UAE: Industry will rely on bilateral agreements until "medical solution" found

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The chief executive of Dubai Airports has predicted that bilateral agreements between “trusted countries” will be needed to enable a resumption of services until a vaccine or treatment is developed for COVID-19. Paul Griffiths said “As the UAE government took significant and early steps to get the virus under control, we are optimistic that there will be opportunities to pair with other governments that have been similarly effective to get air services going between them”. 

Business Traveller, 14 May 2020, Online 

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05/13/20 Middle East: Israel prepares to reopen its main passenger airport next month

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The government of Israel is devising a plan to reopen Ben Gurion airport, the country’s largest hub, which was closed in March amid the global health crisis. Authorities have announced they are looking to open it again on June 1. Health officials and Israel’s airport authorities are looking to determine which destinations to start serving once the airport opens again. Israel is an important connecting country for several nations and is a strong economic partner for many countries in Europe and North America. 

Simple Flying, 13 May 2020, Online 

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12/05/20 flydubai won't resume operations until June at the earliest

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Dubai-based carrier flydubai announced it will not be resuming scheduled commercial flights and continue to be suspended until June 4th. They will continue the suspension until the situation improves. flydubai has been undertaking repatriation of thousands of people across four continents and carrying out cargo flights. The city of Dubai has been in lockdown since March 24th, with stricter measures being put in place every two weeks.

Simple Flying, 12 May, Online

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11/05/20 UAE: Etihad Airways to resume regular service between UK and Australia

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Etihad Airways is planning to resume a regular service between the UK and Australia. This service with be recommenced starting on May 15 with a regular scheduled service from Melbourne to London Heathrow via Abu Dhabi. Then from May 21, services from London Heathrow to Melbourne via Abu Dhabi will also be reintroduced. The flights will be operated using a B787-9 with economy and business cabins. Etihad says it has implemented an extensive sanitization and customer safety programme.

Business Traveller, 11 May, Online

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05/06/20 Africa: African travel and tourism sector in urgent need of support

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The African travel and tourism sector combined contribute $169 billion to Africa’s economy, representing 7.1 per cent of the continent’s GDP. Five international air transport and tourism bodies have launched an appeal to international financial institutions, country development partners, and international donors to support Africa’s travel and tourism sector. Without urgent funding, the Covid-19 crisis could see a collapse of the sector in Africa.

International Airport Review, 06 May 2020, Online

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05/06/20 Middle East: Qatar airways aims to resume flights to 52 destinations by start of June

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Qatar Airways revealed it plans to resume flights in a phased approach following the aviation industry’s biggest-ever slump. The airline has been maintaining essential services across the globe. Despite the loss of jobs, Qatar is gearing up to bring its network back in service. Even more flights are planned for June, and by the end of the month Qatar Airways hopes to have resumed flights to 80 destinations; six in Africa, four in Americas, 33 in Asia-Pacific, 23 in Europe, and 14 in Middle East. The plan to resume flights is subject to government approval, meaning some destinations may not be possible.

Simple Flying, 06 May 2020, Online

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05/06/20 Africa: Ethiopian Airlines may rescue and create new airlines all over Africa

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Africa’s largest carrier Ethiopian Airlines has publicly stated it is ready to rescue other struggling airlines and to restart talks on the revival of South African Airways. Despite Ethiopian’s good intentions, it has not escaped Covid-19 unscathed as it is tackling its own struggles. The carrier’s extensive network of 125 destinations has been reduced to just 30 and has cost it in excess of half a billion dollars.

Simple Flying, 06 May 2020, Online

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05/04/20 UAE: Dubai Expo 2020 postponed to October 2021

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The change of dates has already surpassed the required two-third threshold and the postponement is set to be approved by the Bureau International Des Expositions. Expo 2020 Dubai now appears set to take place from October 1st, 2021, running for six months to March 31st, 2022. Organizers at Expo 2020 Dubai said the delay would allow the event to help shape a post-pandemic world.  

Breaking Travel News, 4 May 2020, Online 

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04/30/20 South Africa: Comair expects to remain grounded until at least October

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South Africa’s Comair is in a “very difficult financial position” due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions and does not anticipate being able to resume flights until October or November. The airline has taken a number of actions aimed at mitigating the impact the lockdown has on its finances which include initiating plans to reduce the number of executives and other staff, terminating its planned acquisition of aircraft leasing specialist Star Air Cargo and the beginning negotiations with banks over a possible convertible loan note issuance. 

Flight Global, 30 April, Online 

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04/28/20 UAE: Dubai aims to reopen for tourism by July

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Dubai aims to reopen its tourism by July, according to the Director General of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing. The Emirate’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism, trade and retail. Dubai began to ease the lockdown restrictions last week including reopening shopping malls after their closure for nearly a month. 

Business Traveller, 28 April, Online  

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04/28/20 UAE: Etihad hopes to resume passenger flights from mid-May

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Etihad is due to start regular commercial flights again as soon as the 16th of May, but it has already been forced to delay the start date and may have to again. Etihad is working with the government to get its schedule sorted and work around international travel restrictions. Due to the ever-changing situation they are currently only offering flex fares. Passengers can also claim a refund without paying a fee. As countries lift travel restrictions at different times, it is likely to be clumsy, uncoordinated return to regular scheduling.  

Simple Flying, 28 April, Online 

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04/28/20 Israel: Israel takes first steps to reopen tourism industry

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The new measures allow hotels and accommodation with ground floor rooms, or bed and breakfast to reopen from May 3rd. The facilities will initially be open to domestic visitors. It was agreed that in the coming days, guidelines will be formulated together with the ministry of health, for operating hotels and accommodation during the period in which Covid-19 continues to impact Israel.  

Breaking Travel News, 28 April, Online 

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04/27/20 MEA: RwandAir reduces staff salaries to avoid layoffs

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RwandAir is implanting several cost-reduction measures to protect the company’s future and avoid laying off staff. The airline is cutting staff’s salaries after evaluating the stark options available in the context of a severely affected aviation sector worldwide. RwandAir has continued to operate cargo flights. Even though it has suspended all regular commercial flights, the airline continues to operate selected flights from its Kigali International Airport hub.  

Simple Flying, 27 April 2020, Online 

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04/27/20 South Africa: South Africa Tourism ad projects spirit of Nelson Mandela

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A new TV advert released by South African Tourism acknowledges sacrifices South Africans have made since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak. It calls upon the tenacity that South Africans have to “triumph over turmoil” in the same way that the late former president Nelson Mandela had to ensure for the greater good. The advert honours those who have given up their freedom to protect the value of each South African life. The aim is to inspire travelers who are yearning to explore and enjoy the country once again, to continue to endure a little longer. 

Travel Weekly, 27 April 2020, Online 

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04/27/20 UAE: Emirates will take until August to clear refunds backlog

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Emirates has almost 500,000 refund requests to manage. It was processing an average of 35,000 a month before the coronavirus pandemic. The airline is now gearing up to handle 150,000 a month with an aim to clear its backlog by early August. Emirates president Sir Tim Clark said they want to ensure their customers and trade partners that they will honour refunds and are trying to speed things up. 

Travel Weekly, 27 April 2020, Online 

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MEA: South African Airlines (SAA) left with no options but wind-down or liquidation

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South Africa’s government said on 10 April that no further funding would be provided to develop a rescue plan and restructuring for SAA. Rescue practitioners of the business state they are faced with the choice of attempting to secure a better return for SAA’s creditors through a wind-down and sale process. This would involve personnel agreeing to termination of employment and severance packages. The other option is making an “urgent application” to discontinue the rescue and place the airline in liquidation.  

Flight Global, 24 April 2020, Online 

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04/24/20 MEA: Coronavirus has hit these African aviation markets the hardest

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African airlines are estimated to suffer a cumulative loss of $6 billion in passenger revenue in 2020 when compared to 2019 numbers. The ten worst-hit countries ranked by decline in the number of passengers are South Africa, Nigeria, Mauritius, Kenya, Ghana, Senegal, Ethiopia, Cape Verde, Tanzania, and Mozambique. South Africa is expected to see the biggest impact on its passenger demand. Almost 15 million fewer passengers are expected over the next three months. Recently some African airlines have requested financial support from their respective governments, yet some have not been successful and are awaiting a very uncertain future. 

Simple Flying, 23 April 2020, Online 

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04/22/20 MEA: Air Mauritius placed in voluntary administration

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Air Mauritius has gone into voluntary administration as a result of the impact of the coronavirus. The airline’s board today sent a communication to partners updating them on the situation. The communications mentioned that the unprecedented crisis has led to a complete erosion in the company’s revenue base and there is uncertainty as to when international air traffic will resume. 

Travel Weekly, 22 April 2020, Online 

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04/21/20 UAE: Emirates pushes regular flight resumption until July

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The Middle East carrier Emirates had planned to begin offering more regular flights before the end of May, but this has now been pushed until the 1st of July, with some routes not restarting until September. When United Arab Emirates closed its borders on March 20, Emirates was forced to suspend operations entirely. Being a global airline, they rely heavily on borders being open. Emirates have been running a skeleton schedule, all flights have been solely to help repatriate citizens to and from the UAE. From April 6, several flights a week were sent to several locations including London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Paris, Zurich, and Manila to help stranded travelers return home. 

Simple Flying, 21 April 2020, Online 

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04/21/20 UAE: The 2020 Arabian Travel Market cancelled

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The 2020 Arabian Travel Market (ATM) has been cancelled with the event to return in May 2021. After initially postponing the tradeshow until June, organizers have decided after many meetings ATM will now be held at the Dubai World Trade Centre on 16-19 May next year. In the interim, ATM will offer a virtual online event on 1-3 June offering webinars, live conference sessions, and speed networking events. 

Travel Daily Media, April 21 2020, Online 

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04/21/20 Israel: El Al in talks for bank loan backed by government

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El Al has entered discussion with an Israeli bank for a loan which would be partly backed by a state guarantee to improve its financial position. The Israeli flag-carrier had previously sought an assistance package from the ministry of finance but was turned down. While El Al maintains that government help is crucial to the airlines ability to ride out the coronavirus situation, it is turning to other means of funding.  

Flight Global, 21 April 2020, Online 

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04/21/20 UAE: Emirates adds social distancing to flights

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Emirates has introduced social distancing on its flights, with seats pre-allocated so that vacant seats are placed between individual passengers or family groups in observance of social distancing protocols. All cabin crew, boarding agents and ground staff who have direct contact with passengers are now wearing personal protective equipment.  Food and beverages are offered in the form of bento-styled boxes to reduce contact between the crew and customers. To reduce the risk of spreading the virus by touch, magazines and other print reading material are temporarily unavailable. All customers must wear masks and gloves throughout their journey from check-in until they disembark. 

Business Traveller, 21 April 2020, Online 

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04/20/20 MEA: Kenya Airways become cargo airline "to stay afloat"

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Kenya Airways has cancelled all international services and has transformed into a cargo airline to survive. Most airlines are currently operating in a very limited way or have ceased flying altogether. The airline is freighting produce and equipment to several countries, one example is 40 tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables carried to London recently on one of its B787s. There is a demand for cargo aircraft across the world as the main freighters operate mostly in Europe and America, therefore there is a shortage of cargo capacity in Africa.

Business Traveller, 20 April 2020, Online

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04/19/20 South African Airways rescue "unlikely" as 4,700 staff offered severance

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South African Airways has started the process of laying off its entire 4,700 workforce after attempts to save the 86-year-old airline have faltered. The airline has been struggling financially for many years and has been relying on government bails outs. The COVID-19 crisis has worsened their finances and has been unable to get government to agree on more support.

Travel weekly, 19 April 2020, Online

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04/15/20 UAE: Emirates conducts first onsite rapid COVID-19 tests for passengers

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Emirates has begun conducting on-site rapid COVID-19 tests for passengers. The test was conducted by Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and results were back within 10 minutes. Social distancing has been placed as well with protective barriers, gloves and masks being installed at each check-in desks.  

Business Traveller, 15 April, Online 

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04/14/20 South Africa: South African Airways will not receive further government support

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SAA will not receive any more funds from the South African government, after a letter from the business rescue team stated that the government had denied additional funding to keep the airline going. The airline is already on a decline and thought to not survive unless given financial aid. 

Simple Flying, 14 April 2020, Online 

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04/14/20 UAE: Emirates and Etihad add more scheduled flights

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Middle eastern carriers – Etihad and Emirates, have added more cities to their flight schedules as they resume limited services. They have said that only citizens of those destinations and those who meet the criteria will be allowed to board, in order to allow those who are stranded in the UAE to return home. 

Flight Global, 14 April 2020, Online 

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04/11/20 Africa: COVID-19 has great impact on safari industry

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Survey results show that the majority of safari tour operators are experiencing a decline in bookings of 75% or more. This figure has increased since March and sentiment is at a low.

Breaking Travel News, 11 April 2020, Online

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04/07/20 South Africa: Invites companies to apply for relief fund

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‘Established as an intervention to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism sector, the R200 million Tourism Relief Fund provides once-off capped grant assistance to Small Micro and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMMEs) to ensure sustainability during and post the implementation of government measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 in South Africa.’ 

CNBC Africa, 7 April, Online  

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04/06/20 MEA: Airline tests kiosk to check medical conditions

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Etihad has partnered with Australia-based Elenium Automation to use a kiosk in airports that will help to identify passengers’ medical conditions. The kiosk measures temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate and is to be put on trial at Abu Dhabi International Airport from mid-April to May.  

Travel Pulse, 6 April 2020, Online 

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04/03/20 UAE: Emirates to resume some flights from April 6

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Emirates has said that it plans to resume several passenger flights services on April 6, after receiving approval from UAE authorities. All their A380s and 125 of the 777 Boeing fleets are currently in storage. 

Flight Global, 3 April 2020, Online 

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04/02/20 MEA: IATA calls for governments to help the region’s airlines

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IATA’s latest analysis suggests the potential loss of revenues carriers in MEA reached US$23bn. As such it is calling on governments from the region to provide urgent financial relief.

Aviation Pros , 2 April 2020, Online

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03/22/20 Middle East: Douglas seeks to calm nerves on Etihad future

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Etihad CEO Tony Douglas has stated that the company is well positioned to survive the coronavirus pandemic, following a warning from IATA that carriers in the Middle East are facing a liquidity crisis. In response to the current situation, Etihad credit has been introduced. This is a new service that gives guests the freedom to delay their travel plans by permitting a free cancellation, with Etihad offering the original value of their booking to be used as credit towards their next trip.

Breaking Travel News, 22 March 2020, online

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