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.
Articles - Global
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Articles - Europe
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Articles - Americas
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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