Global airline industry is facing meltdown over coronavirus fear

Published on : Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Boeing - Etihad DreamlinerThe global travel industry faces an extensive shutdown over Coronavirus  fears after most of the global airline companies announced that the new flight reductions and more countries introduced more travel bans and isolation requirements.


The novel coronavirus has gone global reaching most of the nations throughout the world. This outburst in China now becomes a worldwide pandemic. Since it was first identified in mid-December (Wuhan Province in China), the virus has killed more than 6,512 people worldwide. It is also reported that 169,377 confirmed (4125 new) infected.



Now the travel businesses were hit with multiple doses of news, with the US expanding its Europe travel ban to include the United Kingdom and Ireland, a number of South American countries bringing in flight restrictions and Australia joining New Zealand in requiring all people entering the country to self-isolate for 14 days.



American Airlines, the second biggest in the world, said on Saturday that it would start implementing a phased suspension of nearly all long-haul international flights from Monday, amid reduced demand and travel restrictions due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.



The global cruise industry also suffered another setback when two ships were placed in quarantine in Chile after an elderly British man aboard one of them tested positive for the coronavirus, the health ministry announced on Saturday. The United States government said on Saturday that it would “immediately” begin working on ways to help the coronavirus-hit aviation and cruise industries as they scramble to stem losses and protect jobs.



The crisis facing the industry has been accelerated by the latest extension of the US ban on incoming travel, with US vice-president Mike Pence announcing at the White House on Saturday that British and Irish travellers would also be barred from entering the US for 30 days.



The outbreak also worsened in the UK on Saturday with the total of deaths nearly doubling from 11 to 21 amid continued controversy about whether the government’s policy aimed at creating “herd immunity” from the disease would work or not.



Around the world, varying measures of control continued to be imposed on populations from the Philippines, where the capital Manila was in the process of being sealed off, to Argentina where flights from countries badly hit by the virus have been halted.



The prospect of a shattering blow for the airline industry was foreshadowed by the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, as he announced that all international passenger arrivals from midnight Sunday would be legally required to self-isolate for 14 days.


The flights would dry up “very, very quickly”, he said, and set up serious concerns for the country’s $3.5bn cruise industry by adding that passenger ships from foreign ports would be banned for an initial 30 days. Even before the new curbs were announced, the chief executive of British Airways told staff that the airline was in a “fight for survival”.


The US restrictions on travel to the UK and Ireland will begin on Monday at midnight, Pence said. Most non-US citizens who have been in those countries within the last 14 days will be barred from entering America. The restrictions do not bar flights to and from the US, and Americans and permanent residents can still travel.


As the curbs were revealed, United Airlines and Delta Airlines said they would start cutting flights to the UK and Southwest, one of the few US airlines still flying a full schedule, said it was “seriously considering” cutting flights. United Airlines said it would suspend flights to London from Houston and Denver starting Monday. The airline expects to fly three daily flights to London and one daily flight to Dublin through the end of April.


United Airlines also said it would give a credit for the value of the ticket for any customer whose international travel is disrupted by more than six hours because of schedule changes resulting from government restrictions. Customers who do not use the credit for 12 months will get a refund.


Between 16 March and 6 May, American Airlines will reduce its international capacity by 75% on a year-over-year basis, it said in a statement, adding that the changes will result in the airline parking nearly its entire widebody fleet. The airline also anticipates its domestic capacity in April will be reduced by 20% on a year-over-year basis.


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