Follow all the latest news and updates from the travel industry on the coronavirus outbreak.

Travel Weekly has created a dedicated resource hub for the travel trade with advice and guidance from industry partners to give practical help to businesses during the ongoing crisis. View it here

This page is an archive of older posts.
Find Travel Weekly’s latest coronavirus updates here


Monday March 23

Foreign Office says: Return to UK now

The Foreign Office has told British people travelling abroad to return to the UK now, if commercial flights are still available.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab tweeted on Monday evening: “My message to British people travelling abroad: As borders around the world close and international travel becomes more difficult, you are strongly advised to return to the UK now, where & while there are still commercial travel options available. Keep up to date with @FCOtravel.”


Hoseasons asks clients to transfer holiday dates

Domestic self-catering specialist Hoseasons has asked clients travelling on or before April 30 to transfer their holiday dates because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, the British Holiday & Home Parks Association (BH&HPA) has “strongly advised” its members to shut immediately as the coronavirus pandemic continues.


Travel Counsellors boss reassures customers

Travel Counsellors’ chief executive Steve Byrne has written an open letter about how the homeworking group is supporting staff and customers.

He said: “We’re working diligently with our industry bodies, as well as having direct conversations with our supplier partners to ensure we support our customers with refunds or re-bookings. With Atol protection alongside our financial trust, our customers’ money is protected.

“We have pointed all available resources towards looking after people both in-resort, and due to travel in the next 30 days and more.”

Click here to see the full letter.


Royal Caribbean agrees $2.2bn loan facility

Royal Caribbean Cruises has agreed a $2.2 billion loan facility with banks to shore up cashflow as the coronavirus pandemic hits travel companies.

The cruise giant said it has “borrowed the full amount available under the term loan to further bolster its liquidity”.


Bakers Dolphin coach drivers transfer to ambulance service

Ten coach drivers from Bakers Dolphin are to work as ambulance drivers following the clampdown on travel amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 10 drivers – who would normally be taking people on holidays this week – began retraining for their new role on Monday after an agreement between Bakers Dolphin and Bristol Ambulance Emergency Medical Services.


Union warns of ‘existential threat’ to high street agencies

Travel trade union the TSSA warns that high street agencies will be a “thing of the past” unless the government takes immediate action to support them during the coronavirus pandemic.

The union’s leader, Manuel Cortes, has written to business secretary Alok Sharma to help save high street travel shops from the “existential threat” posed by coronavirus.

It follows the news last week that Hays Travel has put 880 staff on zero hours, as part of cost-cutting measures.


KLM will serve 11 UK airports daily

KLM aims to serve 11 UK cities on a daily basis in the coming weeks, despite an adjusted schedule which amounts to about 10% of the normal number of flights.

The Dutch carrier will fly daily from Schiphol in Amsterdam to Aberdeen, Birmingham, Bristol, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford, London City, Heathrow, Manchester and Newcastle airports.


Singapore Airlines to cut capacity by 96%

Singapore Airlines will cut 96% of the capacity that had been originally scheduled between now and the end of April, as restrictions tighten amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It will ground about 138 Singapore Airlines and SilkAir airlines, out of a fleet of 147. The SIA Group’s low-cost carrier, Scoot, will also suspend most of its network, grounding 47 of its fleet of 49 aircraft.


Coronavirus: P&O Cruises boss says ‘bear with us’

P&O Cruises’ president, Paul Ludlow, has asked passengers to show “some forbearance and patience” as the cruise line deals with cruise cancellations amid the coronavirus crisis.

In a message to customers, he said: “I am…aware that some of you have stated you are frustrated at some of the changes we have had to make to our policies. While I understand your concerns, I would ask you to bear with us as we work through the multitude of new guidelines from government and industry bodies, including Abta.”


Etihad to suspend all services

Etihad Airways will temporarily stop all flights to, from, and via Abu Dhabi following a directive from the United Arab Emirates government to fight the spread of coronavirus.

The suspension of flights to and from Abu Dhabi International Airport will commence at 23:59 UAE local time (19:59 GMT) on Wednesday (March 25) and will last for an initial 14 days.


‘Time’ needed to rebuild business – Carnival Corp chief

Carnival Corporation’s chairman has admitted it is going to take “time and effort” to rebuild business following the coronavirus pandemic and urged agents to work in partnership with the cruise giant.

Micky Arison addressed the travel agent community in an interview with Adolfo Perez, Carnival Cruise Line’s senior vice president and marketing, posted on Facebook.


Intrepid Travel suspends tours until May 31

Intrepid Travel is suspending tours departing until at least May 31.

The move echoes cancellations announced by G Adventures.

Intrepid said: “The safety and wellbeing of our travellers and staff is our priority, therefore, effective Monday 16 March Intrepid Travel will suspend all tours until at least 31 May 2020.


Relief on refunds on the way

The government is poised to confirm suspension of a key part of the package holiday refund rules in line with industry demands led by Abta.

The legal requirement for travel organisers to refund consumers within 14 days of cancellation is set to be relaxed to prevent the drain on cash during the current crisis driving firms out of business.


Branson to inject $250m into Virgin Group companies

Sir Richard Branson is to inject an initial $250 million into companies across his Virgin Group empire as they battle to survive the coronavirus pandemic.

He revealed the emergency investment in reaction to what he described as the “most significant crisis the world has experienced in my lifetime”.


Celebrity Cruises chief thanks UK agents for support

Celebrity Cruises’ UK and Ireland boss has urged to the trade to keep in touch during this “unprecedented” time and revealed that the line has set up a live chat function to help agents communicate with its sales team.

Jo Rzymowska, vice president and managing director, Europe, Middle East and Africa, addressed agents on the line’s trade Facebook page on Friday.


HAL passengers confined to cabins after ‘flu-like’ outbreak

All passengers on board a Holland America Line ship have been confined to their cabins after an “influenza-like” outbreak.

A total of 13 passengers and 29 crew reported to the medical centre on Zeedam with the symptoms on Sunday.


G Adventures extends suspension of tours

G Adventures is extending the suspension of all tours until May 31 due to the continuing global coronavirus pandemic.

Only a ‘Norwegian Arctic Encompassed’ trip is due to run on May 29 with no other departures over the next two months.


Aer Lingus Regional carrier Stobart Air cuts flights

The airline that runs Aer Lingus Regional services is to cut flights across its network in the face of the “staggering” impact of coronavirus.

Stobart Air is to operate a “significantly reduced” schedule with all international routes between the UK and Ireland suspended from March 28.

International flights between March 25-28 will initially be trimmed to limited services from Dublin to Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Affected travellers can apply for a voucher for the full value of their travel, including taxes and charges, plus an additional 10%.


Sunday March 22

Emirates to suspend all passenger flights this week

Airline to temporarily suspend all passenger flights by Wednesday, but continue to run cargo operations.

Staff, exculsing junior employees, have been asked to take pay cuts between 25-50% as group – which includes dnata – moves to cut costs in response to the coronavirus crisis.


Delta agrees $2.6bn credit deal

Delta Air Lines has entered into a $2.6 billion secured credit facility.

The package is aimed at enhancing the company’s liquidity “as it manages through an unprecedented decline in air travel demand due to the Covid-19 outbreak”.

The carrier is also drawing $3 billion under its existing revolving credit facilities.

Chief executive Ed Bastian said: “The growing need to protect Delta’s future has led to difficult decisions across our business that are impacting all of our stakeholders.

“Maintaining ample liquidity during this crisis is critical to the essential service that Delta provides in America’s transportation infrastructure as well as the jobs of more than 90,000 Delta people across the country.”


EasyJet to ground majority of fleet

The majority of EasyJet’s network will be shut down from Tuesday.

The UK budget carrier is grounding its fleet of more than 330 aircraft due to accelerating numbers of coronavirus travel restrictions across Europe.

The airline will run rescue flights to repatriate passengers where it can.


Eastern Airways hangs fire on additional Southampton route expansion

Eastern Airways has held off starting new routes from Southampton airport while coronavirus restrictions peak.

The regional carrier confirmed that a Southampton-Dublin link is among seven new routes planned as it seeks to replace a proportion of services lost with the failure of Flybe.

The start date of flights to the Irish capital will be confirmed “in due course” along with the additional routes “due to the current Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions affecting travel in the UK and Ireland”. 


Tourist boards tell visitors to stay away

Tourism bosses across the UK have urged tourists to stay away, to help tackle the spread of coronavirus.

They warn that travellers from other towns and cities will put a strain on rural supermarkets and health services.


United reinstates selected flights to help stranded travellers

United Airlines will still serve London with selected flights in the coming weeks to help passengers return home.

It said: “The airline knows some people around the globe are displaced and still need to get home.

“While United’s international schedule will still be reduced by about 90% in April, the airline will continue flying six daily operations to and from the following destinations – covering Asia, Australia, Latin America, the Middle East and Europe – in an effort to get customers where they need to be.”

Click here for details of the routes it will operate, including Newark/New York-London and Washington-Dulles-London.


UNWTO creates global tourism crisis committee

The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) hosted a high-level virtual meeting last week, to convene a global tourism crisis committee to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

The organisation has also launched a social media campaign with the slogan ‘Stay home today so you can #TravelTomorrow’.


Tui shops operate closed-door policy

Tui travel agencies are operating a closed-door policy because of government advice on social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

The travel giant said: “In line with government advice on social distancing we have closed our store doors to limit the amount of contact our retail advisors are exposed to. They are still working hard to help all our affected customers amend their bookings.”


Foreign office arranging flights to rescue Brits stranded in Peru

The foreign office is working with the Peruvian government to arrange flights to bring home hundreds of British tourists stranded in Peru amid the coronavirus crisis.

Peru is in a state of emergency, with a curfew and closed borders. From today (March 22), there is a ban on flights in and out of the country.


Saturday March 21

Government urged to act quickly to save airlines

The British Airline Pilots Association has warned that airlines could wind down operations and make staff redundant before a government support scheme is ready.

The UK’s pilots’ union said the industry is at risk of collapse.


Ryanair boss O’Leary and staff to take 50% pay cut

All Ryanair staff including Michael O’Leary are to have their pay cut in half for two months as a result of the disruption caused by the coronavirus.

Pay cut will be in place until the end of May, when the airline will re-assess the situation.


Government considers investing in airlines

The government is considering buying equity stakes in airlines to keep them afloat through the coronavirus crisis, according to a report in the Financial Times (paywall).

The move being considered would see the government inject billions of pounds into airlines and other companies hardest hit by the crisis in return for shares that would later be sold to private investors.

The FT report said the plan was being weighed up after warnings that the £330 billion in loan guarantees announced by the Chancellor on Tuesday may not be enough to save companies which face an almost complete halt in revenue.


Iata commends CAA for flexibility

Iata has issued a statement thanking aviation regulators including the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority for providing flexibility to airline and flight crew during the coronavirus crisis.

The association highlighted the CAA’s process to allow an extension to the validity of pilot and cabin crew requirements, alongside measures taken by bodies including the European Aviation Safety Agency and national authorities in the UAE, China and Mexico.


Abta issues airline cancellation guidance

Abta has issued fresh guidance on airline cancellations and urged members to report any cases where airlines do not comply with their legal obligations on refunds.

The association said that refunds must be paid by airlines in line with EU Regulation 261 and contract law, and echoed a call made by the Association of Atol Companies to ensure any emergency funds made their way “down the chain”.

Mark Tanzer, Abta chief executive, said: “These are unprecedented times in the travel industry, and for the sector to come through it is vital that all parts of the chain respect their obligations.”


South African Airways suspends all international flights to June

South African Airways (SAA) has suspended all international operations until May 31 in response to a government travel ban aimed at stopping the spread of Covid-19.

SAA will only continue services on its regional and domestic routes following the declaration of a State of Disaster in South Africa.


Designer Travel boss appeals for help from airlines and tour operators

Leading homeworking travel agency Designer Travel has issued a plea for hep from airlines and tour operators as it battles the coronavirus crisis.

Amanda Matthews, founder and managing director for Designer Travel, says airlines are not helping as they try to transfer client bookings to later dates.


Travel Republic defends issuing of credit notes

Online travel agent Travel Republic has joined calls for a relaxation of Atol regulations as it faces criticism for issuing customers with vouchers for holiday plans that have been cancelled.

The brand has come in for particular criticism on social media as agents look to offer credit notes for future travel instead of refunds to keep cash in their businesses.


#PayitForward campaign targets ‘cash hoarders’

Spanish foreign exchange automation platform Kantox is calling on firms that work with the travel industry to not hoard cash to help save their partners from collapse.

In a LinkedIn article co-founder and chief executive of Kantox, Philippe Gelis, likened firms with healthy reserves deciding to hoard cash to shoppers panic buying toilet roll.


‘Tech giants have moral duty to help hotels survive’

UK-based digital hospitality marketing agency Journey has called on the global media, advertising and OTA giants to step in and help its hotel partners survive the COVID-19 crisis.

The firm, which has written an open letter to Google, Bing, Facebook, Expedia and Booking.com, says they have a moral duty to assist having made billions from the sector.


Data finds ‘subtle but meaningful’ rebound in Chinese travel

Global travel data co-operative ADARA has revealed figures tracking a rebound in travel in China following the initial COVID-19 virus outbreak.

Latest data on the Chinese market show a significant rebound over the last two weeks as China appears to have got on top of the virus which originated in the city of Wuhan.


Advantage suspends CAPS payment system

Advantage has temporarily suspended use of its Central Advantage Payment System (CAPS) as it struggles to process “volume refunds”.

In a letter to suppliers and members seen by Travel Weekly, Advantage said the system had not been designed to process the level of refunds currently being experienced.

It said the system was “flowing in the opposite direction to the traditional flow of funds”.


Global Travel Group suspends member commission payments

The Global Travel Group has temporarily suspended its agent commission payment system.

Managing director Andy Stark said the move was a protection measure for agents.

If a booking is cancelled, Global members are required to pay back commission to the consortium.


Carrier briefs staff on cost-saving measures

Carrier is the latest tour operator to introduce cost-saving measures amid the ongoing impact of the coronavirus.

The luxury operator has briefed staff on introducing voluntary reduction in hours, unpaid leave and voluntary redundancy.

It follows news that sister Der Touristik brand Kuoni is to make 70 staff redundant as well as asking staff to take voluntary pay cuts, unpaid leave and voluntary redundancy.


Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection postpones launch date

The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection has announced its launch has been pushed back to April 2021.

This is second time the debut of the new brand’s first ship Evrima has been delayed. The vessel had initially been due to launch in February 2020, but it was pushed back to June after the shipyard claimed it was facing delivery and project issues.

According to the brand, this new postponement is again due to delays at the Hijos de J Barreras shipyard. It now plans to launch Evrima on April 22, 2021, with a cruise from Lisbon to Palma.


Baldwins Travel temporarily closes doors

Baldwins Travel has become the latest travel agency to temporarily close its doors to customers.

The agency, which operates eight stores in Kent and Sussex, said it made the decision to work behind closed doors following government advice.

Staff will be available to answer queries during normal opening hours via email and phone.


Friday March 20

Barrhead shops to operate closed-door policy

Barrhead Travel agencies will operate a “closed-door” policy for all its branches across the UK from Saturday (March 21), because of the coronavirus crisis.

A statement from the Glasgow-headquartered agency chain said: “This means our teams will be in their local branch as normal, but will communicate with you, their loyal customers, by telephone, email or social media.


Government to cover 80% wages of employees left without work

The government has pledged to pay 80% of the wages of people left out of work as a result of the coronavirus.

The payments will be as much as £2,500 per month.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak made the promise in the latest of the government’s daily coronavirus briefings, where prime minister Boris Johnson told pubs, cafes and restaurants to close “as soon as they reasonably can”.


Hays Travel puts 880 staff on zero hours

Hays Travel has stepped up its cost-saving measures and put 880 staff on zero-hour contracts.
All other employees have had their hours reduced for the next four weeks.

On Thursday, Travel Weekly reported retail staff were being made to work every other week, while some foreign exchange staff and recent starters had their hours reduced to zero as part of new cost-saving measures.


Abta tells Boris Johnson time is running out for UK travel businesses

A letter from Abta to the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made seven demands to save jobs in the travel industry.

As the COVID-19 pandemic crisis deepens in Europe and across the world the sector has been one of the first and hardest hit as international travel has all but been shut down.

Abta, the UK’s leading trade association, is encouraging all of its travel agent and tour operator members to copy the demands and send them to their local MPs as a matter of urgency.


Travel Network Group to close agency and reduce staff hours

The Travel Network Group is expected to close one of its owned travel agencies and reduce working hours at the others as it cuts costs to cope with the impact of the coronavirus.

The travel agency consortium, that comprises more than 1,050 branches between its members, owns eight stores of its own.


Dnata staff to take two weeks unpaid leave

Staff at dnata are to take two weeks unpaid leave as the travel group seeks to save costs amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Travel2 and Gold Medal parent employs 1,500 staff across all of its businesses, which also include Travel Republic, Travelbag and Netflights.

Staff can take the time off all in one go or over separate rime periods between April-June.

Critical B2B operational staff dealing with agent refunds and re-booking requests must take theirs later in the year.


‘Atol holders should have same refund rights as consumers’

The Association of Atol Companies has written to the Department for Transport urging it to ensure any airline credit note can be redeemed as a full refund at a later date by tour operators and travel agents

Advisor Alan Bowen echoed Abta’s call for the government to follow the lead of the European Commission – but apply the same principles for consumer rights to agents and operators who have bought airline seats.


Travel Counsellors consults 320 staff about job options

Homeworking agency Travel Counsellors has started to consult 320 head office staff about job options including redundancies, because of the coronavirus crisis.

Steve Byrne, chief executive, said: “We have begun a consultation period for our employed support team to explore all options in terms of their roles, including extended unpaid leave, reduced working hours, job-share opportunities and redundancy.


Bourne brands hope government can save 10,000 summer jobs

Butlins, Warner Leisure Hotels and Haven will pay its 10,000 seasonal workers while its three brands are shut until April 16 – but needs government support to “resolve this challenging issue”.

Doors closed today because of the coronavirus pandemic. They hope to re-open on April 16.


ITT to postpone annual conference

The 2020 conference had been due to take place in Istanbul from June 8-10 but is now scheduled for September 21-23.


SAA suspends international flights

South African Airways has suspended all international operations until May 31 as the country’s government has limited travel to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

New rules preventing the arrival of foreign visitors were brought in yesterday after the South African government declared a state of disaster.


‘Demand won’t return quickly’, warns Lufthansa chief

There will be no rebound this summer to pre-crisis levels of demand and no quick return to business as usual, says Lufthansa Group head Carsten Spohr.


Not Just Travel agent cares for husband with coronavirus

Caerphilly-based Not Just Travel agent Emma Summerill, speak to Travel Weekly about trying to remain upbeat despite not knowing how long the global virus pandemic will last.


Airlines in ‘critical’ state demand state aid

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, warned: “The situation is now truly critical. COVID-19 risks a lasting and irreversible effect on the aviation industry.”


Four on Ruby Princess test positive in Australia

Three passengers and a crew member on Ruby Princess have tested positive for Covid-19 after it docked in Sydney.

Reports say the authorities in New South Wales are racing to find the 3,800 people who had been onboard and were allowed to disembark after a short cruise to New Zealand.


Cathay Pacific capacity slashed by 96%

Just 4% of Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon flights will operate over the next two months in reaction to a dramatic drop in demand.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic and multiple government travel restrictions that form part of the global health response plan has led to the sister carriers slashing capacity by 96% in April and May.


CMV moves passengers as Columbus heads back to UK

More than 200 passengers were transferred between two Cruise & Maritime Voyages ships off the coast of Phuket, Thailand, as part of the line’s repatriation operation.

Following CMV’s decision to suspend all sailings until April 24, tender boats were used to move British passengers from Vasco da Gama to Columbus which is sailing back to the UK via Colombo, Sri Lanka.

CMV_600x300

Columbus is now carrying 602 British passengers.

Vasco da Gama is sailing directly to Fremantle, Australia.


Red Sea repatriates Egypt clients

Egypt specialist Red Sea Holidays has repatriated 600 of clients following the Egyptian government’s suspension of flights to and from the country.

On Monday (March 16), the Egyptian government said all flights would stop by Thursday March 29, so the operator secured aircraft to bring almost all of its clients back by the deadline.

A small number of clients remain in the country who will be returned home in the coming days.

Andrew Grant, managing director, said: “Chartering aircraft at such short notice was quite a challenge.

“We were aware that the coronavirus crisis could affect travel and had well-rehearsed contingency plans in place, but it was still surprising to see just how quickly events have unfolded.”


‘Totemic moment’ in EU air travel collapse

Up to 48,200 flights and 10.2 million airline seats are at risk in a ‘totemic moment’ triggered by a 30-day closure of EU borders, according to latest estimates.

Air France, which has around 800,000 seats between the EU and other world regions, is expected to suffer the worst from the restrictions.


Kuoni makes 70 staff redundant

Kuoni has announced it has made 70 staff redundant, in addition to asking employees to take voluntary pay cuts, unpaid leave and voluntary redundancy.

The company said the non-voluntary redundancies had affected around one person per store across the UK. The company operates 48 stores and employs a number of staff at its Dorking head office.


MSC Cruises promises to repatriate Splendida passengers

MSC Cruises is working with authorities to ensure all MSC Splendida’s passengers can fly home after the ship’s current voyage was cut short amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Last week, the line suspended all sailings until April 30 due to the coronavirus pandemic midway through MSC Splendida’s Grand Voyage which departed Singapore on February 14.


One million travel jobs being lost every day

As many as one million travel and tourism jobs are being lost every day due to the sweeping effect of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the latest estimates.

The growing job losses are affecting every level of the industry and are gathering pace, as countries go into lockdown to tackle the virus.


Consumer refunds latest advice

Travel Weekly has received a range of questions from readers for its panel of industry, business and legal experts on Friday afternoon. Given the pressing nature of questions relating specifically to consumer refunds, Travel Weekly executive editor Ian Taylor has picked out a selection and outlined his understanding as of Thursday evening.


Government ‘poised to deliver rescue package for ailing UK airlines’

A series of measures are reported to be under consideration as part of a multi-billion pound government rescue plan for ailing UK airlines.

The plea for financial support has led to leading City bank Rothschild being requested to advise ministers on a package of measures due to be unveiled within days, according to Sky News.


Heathrow to remain open in face of ‘seismic challenge’

Heathrow has pledged to remain open in the face of a “seismic challenge” facing the global aviation industry.
The London hub and base of British Airways is taking steps to re-organise and shrink its operation to remain open throughout the crisis.


Agents call on operators to delay balance due dates

Agents are urging operators to delay balance payments to four weeks before departure to give clients more time to decide if they still wish to travel.

Balance due dates are now coming up for departures in June. Most balances are due at least ten weeks ahead of travel.


Norwegian Air set to win state aid lifeline

Norwegian Air is to gain a state lifeline as part of state efforts to stave off collapses in the Scandinavian airline sector as a resut of the coronavirus pandemic.

The government in Norway has agreed to back airlines with credit guarantees worth up to Nok6 billion (£460 million), half of it to Europe’s third largest low cost carrier.


Carnival Corporation offers ships as floating hospitals

Carnival Corporation is to make ships available as floating hospitals to support healthcare systems around the world.

The world’s largest cruise group said selected vessels from its global cruise line brands, including Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and P&O Cruises Australia, will be made available to communities for use as temporary hospitals.


Carnival Corporation warns of annual loss as virus hits

The ongoing impact of coronavirus will have a “material negative” impact on the world’s largest cruise company.
Carnival Corporation today reported a halving of adjusted first quarter net income to $150 million in the three months to February 29 from $338 million in the same period last year.


Deloitte warns of long-term impact on travel sector

The travel sector is expected to bounce back but must be prepared for significant long-term impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, according to global accountancy giant Deloitte.

Speaking in a weekly coronavirus webcast yesterday, Alistair Pritchard, lead partner travel and tourism at Deloitte, said the industry is at a “critical juncture” and needs critical government support.


Cruise.co and Saga team up for repatriation effort

Cruise.co has teamed up with Saga to try and repatriate almost 80 passengers stranded in Lima due to the Coronavirus outbreak – but desperately needs the support from more travel organisers for a rescue flight home to operate.

The cruise retailer had 58 passengers booked on a trip combining the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu, followed by a cruise from Rio back to Venice with MSC Cruises.


Thursday March 19

Atas members call for immediate government support

The Association of Touring & Adventure Suppliers (Atas) is calling for urgent support from government to help members survive the coronavirus crisis.

In addition to financial backing, Atas members are asking for Package Travel Regulations to change, to allow credit in lieu of cash refunds.

The association also wants salary support to help employers guarantee jobs and a payment holiday for workers paying their mortgages.

Haven to close its holiday parks until April 16

Bourne Leisure brand will close its holiday parks tomorrow, and they are expected to remain shut until April 16.

A statement from the UK resort operator today said: “We are contacting everyone who has a break booked during this period, but we shall prioritise those who are booked to travel within the next seven days. We would like to thank our guests for their patience whilst we work through this as quickly as we can.


Aito calls for clarity on chancellor’s business first-aid package

Association welcomes measures aimed at maintaining firms’ cashflow and the health of the UK economy but warned “there is usually a sting the tail”.


Saga offers cruise ships to ease pressure on NHS

Saga Sapphire and Spirit of Discovery could be used as floating hospitals


Business travel agencies unite to bring Brits home

Focus Travel Partnership consortium members provide emergency repatriation service called ‘Helping You Get Home’


Package holiday customers advised to take credit notes

The European Commission is now advising that customers take credit notes for package holidays cancelled as a result of the coronavirus, as long as they can ask for a full refund eventually.

Abta called on the UK government to follow the same lines in its own guidance on the Package Travel Directive (PTD).


Hays Travel agents to work every other week

Hays Travel’s retail staff have been made to work only every other week, while some foreign exchange staff and recent starters have been reduced to zero hours.

The temporary measures have been put in place by the UK’s largest travel retailer as it battles the impact of the coronavirus on travel.

Shops will be open from 10am to 4:30pm with staff also taking a 50% pay cut to reflect their reduced hours. Hays Travel expects the mesures to be in place for four weeks.


Tui to cut staff pay by up to 50%

Non-retail Tui staff are to receive up to a 50% reduction in pay as the travel giant looks to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Staff required to work will receive a 30% reduction in basic pay and contracted hours.

Staff required to work less than 50% of their hours, or not at all, will receive a 50% reduction in basic pay and contracted hours.


Midcounties Co-operative Travel to temporarily close all branches

Midcounties Co-operative Travel is to close its 57 Co-operative Travel branches temporarily with agents helping out in non-travel parts of the business.

Some branches will be converted into virtual call centres or administration centres with staff to handle enquiries and bookings over email, phone and social media.

Chief retail officer for Midcounties, Alistair Rowland, said the decision would protect travel agents jobs.


Fred Olsen suspends ocean cruises, delays start of river sailings

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has suspended ocean cruises until May 23 and delayed the start of its river cruise season.

Its river cruise vessel Brabant had been due to start on the Floral Holland in the Spring cruise on April 6 but it has been cancelled.

All Brabant 2020 cruises departing after April 15 are currently scheduled to sail as planned.

Fred River Cruises brand Amadeus River Cruises has cancelled all departures up to and including April 15.

Guests can transfer their booking to an alternative departure without penalty or receive 115% future cruise credit valid for 24 months.

 


Kuoni parent to implement voluntary pay cuts and unpaid leave

Kuoni parent Der Touristik UK is asking staff to take voluntary pay cuts, unpaid leave and voluntary redundancy “across the board”.

Derek Jones, chief executive, has briefed staff today on a raft of cost-cutting initiatives to cope with the coronavirus crisis. He will take a voluntary 30% pay cut.

Other Der Touristik UK brands include Carrier, CV Villas, Jules Verne, Kirker and Journey Latin America.


CAA extends Atol-renewal deadline

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has delayed the Atol renewal deadline to April 28, as reported by Travel Weekly on Monday.
This is only the second time in the CAA’s history the Atol deadline has been extended after it was pushed back for the first time in October following the collapse of Thomas Cook.

Atol holders had been due to renew their licences by April 1.


Ffestiniog Travel suspends all holidays until the end of June

Rail holiday specialist Ffestiniog Travel has cancelled all holidays until the end of June because of the coronavirus crisis.

Maria Cook, general manager, said customers will be refunded and the operator hopes to run the cancelled tours again in its 2021 programme.

She said the decision was taken in light of travel bans around the world and the likelihood that the UK government may shortly issue advice to everybody over the age of 70 – a large proportion of the firm’s customers – to stay at home.


Agent Diary: ‘Build on existing sales during this downturn’

Clare Dudley, managing director, Ponders Travel, Cambridge, advises how to suggest upgrades without being pushy


Warner Leisure Hotels suspends breaks

Bourne Leisure hotel chain says it will not be operating short breaks at its properties from March 20 until April 16


Reuben’s Retreat puts building works on hold

Charity supported heavily by the travel industry said it felt it was important to “pause to protect” in order to put families first as the country deals with the coronavirus pandemic.


Pound falls further

The pound has fallen to its lowest level against the dollar since 1985, trading at $1.15.

It has fallen almost 5% in 24 hours.

Against the euro, the pound remains at €1.07 – the same as on Wednesday.

The FTSE 100 index closed down 4%, with travel firms among the worst affected.


Agents could face ‘sting’ if no clarity on refunds given

Travel agents offering credit notes rather than refunds could face a “sting” as customers look to credit card companies to get their cash back.


Comment: ‘Refunds are threatening to send airlines and operators to the wall’

Holidaysplease marketing director Charles Duncombe says all agents would prefer customers to postpone rather than issue refunds, but they can only do this if the client has faith they will get their money back in the future.


Future of aviation ‘can’t be guaranteed’ without state aid

Lufthansa  is reacting by cutting costs through “far reaching” capacity cuts and short-time working by staff.

Chairman Carsten Spohr said: “The spread of the coronavirus has placed the entire global economy and our company as well in an unprecedented state of emergency.”


Jet2holidays to issue rebooking vouchers

The policy applies to Jet2holidays bookings departing in April, as all flights are suspended until at least May 1 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The operator will issue a ‘Rebook Voucher’ per booking with a unique code for agents to pass to the lead passenger on the booking.


Three Atol holders cease trading

The CAA is sending out claims forms to affected customers.


‘Coronavirus is opportunity to pivot from commission to fees model’

Gemma Antrobus, who owns agency Haslemere Travel and is chair of Aito Agents, calls for travel agents to be paid in fees rather than commission.


Jet2 suspends all flights and moves to bolster finances

Parent company Dart Group yesterday confirmed the suspension of Jet2 flights until at least May 1.


Comment: The coronavirus crisis and customer refunds

Repatriating customers and refunds on cancelled bookings of Atol-protected holidays dominate the industry’s response to the Covid-19 crisis, and agents and operators urgently need guidance, says Ian Taylor.
Read more


Air Transat stops sales in wind-down

Repatriation flights will still be operated during the next two weeks to take customers back to their home countries.

Abta urges changes to refund rules

Association to meet representatives of the Departments for Transport (DfT) and Business (BEIS) today to discuss urgent changes to refund rules for cancelled holiday bookings.

The current requirement to refund customers within 14 days of cancellation threatens to put many firms out of business after the Foreign Office advised on Tuesday against all overseas travel.


Qantas suspends international flights

Qantas will suspend all international flights from the end of March with two-thirds of all 30,000 staff being stood down.


US
set to lose 4.6m travel jobs ‘by end of April’

The estimate by the US Travel Association updates a previous projection of “catastrophic losses” of $355 billion and 4.6 million travel-related jobs this year.


Air New Zealand to close London cabin crew base

Carrier brings forward closure of its London cabin crew base of 130 flight attendants due to the impact of COVID-19 and travel restrictions imposed by governments around the world.

London-based cabin crew will operate their final service on the route on 20 March.

Air New Zealand had planned to close the cabin crew base with its withdrawal from the route in October 2020.


Fred Olsen passengers to be flown home tonight

Passengers on Fred Olsen Cruise Lines vessel Braemar will start to fly back from Cuba to the UK tonight.

All 682 passengers are currently being transferred from Port of Mariel in Havana to Jose Marti Airport.

Three flights have been chartered with the first one due to take off tonight at 10pm (UK time).

On March 10, one passenger and four crew members tested positive for coronavirus. As a result, Braemar was unable to disembark passengers in Barbados two days later.

The ship spent three days in the Bahamas before Cuban authorities granted permission for passengers to be repatriated by air from Havana.

It is understood that 28 passengers are in isolation after showing influenza-like symptoms.


DFDS to suspend Newcastle-Amsterdam ferry service

DFDS will suspend its Newcastle-Amsterdam ferry route at the weekend, until at least April 13.

The last sailing from Amsterdam will be on March 21 and the last from Newcastle on March 22.

Operator DFDS is consulting with crews and staff about the temporary effects on employment


David Speakman urges Travel Counsellors to stay positive

Company’s founder writes an open letter to agents in the homeworking group to offer advice and support during the coronavirus crisis.

The letter says the current “catastrophe” highlights the need for a trusted travel consultant, and urges them to keep in touch with customers and fellow Travel Counsellors.


Hurtigruten suspends operations

Hurtigruten has suspended Norwegian coastal voyages until April 19 and polar expedition sailings until April 28.

The line’s chief executive Daniel Skjeldam said: “To temporarily suspend operations was a difficult decision to make. It’s an emotional moment for me and the entire Hurtigruten team.

“I firmly believe it is the only responsible decision in the extraordinary cruises the world is currently facing.”

In recent weeks Hurtigruten has encouraged passengers to move bookings free of charge, and added that teams have been working around-the-clock to repatriate guests.


Sterling plummets amid pandemic

The value of sterling is at a six-month low.

At €1.07, the pound is currently 9% weaker compared to mid-February when it was at its highest in 2020, and 6% weaker than a year ago.

But compared to last summer, when sterling fell to €1.05 against the Euro, the pound is 1.7% stronger.

Sterling has also weakened significantly against the US dollar, according to Post Office Travel Money, falling just below $1.20 – 9%  weaker than a year ago when it was worth 1.30.

Post Office said that currency sales had been strong in January and February, indicating strong demand for holidays abroad at that time.

Hungarian forint and Czech koruna sales were both up by around 45% year on year, while Turkish lira purchases increased by 54%.


Azamara Pursuit re-routes to Miami

Azamara Pursuit is sailing directly to Miami from the coast of Chile after parent company Royal Caribbean cancelled all voyages until April 11.

Before the itinerary was cancelled, Azamara’s 702-passenger vessel was sailing a 21-day itinerary from Buenos Aires and was due to disembark in Callao, Peru, on March 23.

Chile’s health minister Jaime Mañalich last weekend banned cruise ships from docking at any of the country’s ports until September.

An Azamara spokesperson said: “Azamara’s key objective is to disembark all guests and help return home safely.”


Coronavirus: ‘Government must do more’ – ITT

The Institute for Travel and Tourism says the government must do more to support travel staff facing redundancy or reduced hours.

It has also requested the government make grant and loan applications ‘clear and simple’ for firms needing financial assistance.


Global Travel Group postpones 2020 conference

The consortium’s event was due to take place from May 7-11 at Caesars Bluewaters Hotel.

It will be rescheduled for ‘a later date’.


Tourist accommodation in Spain to close by Tuesday

The Spanish government has ordered that hotels and short-stay accommodation – such as short-stay campsites or caravan parks – must close by Tuesday March 24.

The Foreign Office said British travellers who are currently in Spain and who wish to return to the UK are advised to make travel plans to do so as soon as possible.

Spain declared a state of emergency on March 14, which introduces a series of measures – including significant restrictions on movement throughout the country – in response to the coronavirus outbreak.


Shearings Holidays moves to four-day week

Shearings Holidays has moved to a four-day week because of the drop-off in demand.

Jane Atkins, managing director at Shearings Holidays, commented: “Like many others in the UK travel sector, we have been affected by a short-term reduction in demand in recent weeks.

“To manage the impact of this, we are taking steps to protect the employment of our loyal and professional workforce.”


UKHospitality warns ‘24 hours to save 1m jobs’

UKHospitality is calling for an immediate employment support plan from the government to protect one million-plus jobs now at risk in pubs, restaurants, hotels and leisure attractions.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: “This needs to happen now – within 24 hours.

“While the extra measures announced yesterday represent significant help that will give many companies a lifeline, the massive issue remains people and preservation of jobs.

UKHospitality estimates the hospitality sector has shed between 200,000 and 250,000 jobs over the past two weeks, with majority of these cuts coming in the past few days.


Advantage to issue daily video updates on pandemic

Chief executive Julia Lo Bue-Said will deliver ‘The Advantage Update’ alongside members of the Advantage team on the consortium’s social media channels at 6pm every evening.


Butlin’s resorts to close from March 20 to April 16

Bognor Regis, Minehead and Skegness sites to close Friday March 20 to April 16.

A statement said this afternoon: “The safety and wellbeing of our guests and team are our absolute priority. In support of government recommendations, we have sadly taken the decision to temporarily close all three resorts.

 


good-deed-feed

Travel’s Good Deed Feed

Travel Weekly has created an online feed of positive news stories and messages from the travel industry in response to requests from readers.

We will endeavour to update this feed alongside our rolling news in order to support readers in these difficult circumstances.

If you have any submissions for the Travel’s Good Deed Feed, please email them to eleanor.kirk@travelweekly.co.uk.


Atol association hits out at airlines for ‘refusing customer refunds’

The Association of Atol Companies has hit out at airlines refusing to refund customers for flights cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions.

The AAC declined to identify carriers refusing cash refunds but said in a statement: “A number of airlines have cancelled flights but refuse to offer refunds to customers or their agents.”


‘Trust in agents will wane without clarity on refunds’

Fears are rising that consumers’ trust in travel agents will wane without urgent clarity about refund payments on cancelled bookings.

Travel agent Oliver Broad, director, RB Collection in Lichfield, joined calls for a fast response on the issue of refunds as retailers face increasing questions from clients who want their holiday payments returned.


Ryanair fleet to be grounded by Tuesday

Ryanair Group Airlines expects “most if not all” its flights will stop by midnight on Tuesday March 24.

The low-cost airline group – which includes Ryanair, Lauda, Buzz and Malta Air – is cutting its flight schedules by more than 80% between March 18 and March 24.

It is in contact with European governments and may operate repatriation flights for EU citizens where possible.


Abta and CAA strive for agreement on refunds

Abta was locked in talks with the CAA on immediate financial relief for firms on Tuesday as the government unveiled unprecedented measures to support business but advised against overseas travel.

The talks focused on relaxing requirements to refund customers within 14 days of cancellation, which threaten to put many firms out of business. The aim is to replace cash refunds with credit notes.


Red Funnel passengers to remain in cars on some ferry crossings

Isle of Wight ferry company Red Funnel will allow passengers to stay in their cars on some crossings from tomorrow, to help with social distancing.

It will operate several special “vehicle deck only” crossings, during which the main passenger accommodation areas will be closed, and passengers must remain in their vehicles.

The decks will be on selected Southampton and East Cowes departures. Click here for details.


Air Transat introduces ‘return home early’ policy

Air Transat has a new policy for its customers in Canada who wish to return to the UK early.

Passengers can now change their flights from Canada to the UK with no change fees or price difference, subject to availability.

The airline is gradually suspending flights until April 30 but some will continue for a few more days to repatriate customers.

Agents making changes via GDS should use the following waiver code: COVIDCHG16MAR and for additional support, they can contact
salessupportUK@transat.com

Click here for details.


Cyprus shutdown

The Cyprus government has instructed all hotel and tourist accommodation to shutdown from the weekend.

They will remain closed until April 30 as part of restrictions imposed by Cypriot authorities in reaction to the coronavirus pandemic.

All tourists will need to leave their accommodation by March 21, the Foreign Office said in updated travel advice.

The FCO said: “British nationals in Cyprus should follow the advice of the Cypriot authorities, which includes vacating their tourist accommodation by 21 March.

“The British government is discussing this requirement with the Cypriot government and asking airlines to offer more flights.

“We recommend that British nationals who wish to leave Cyprus contact their travel operator to make arrangements to do so as soon as possible.”


easyJet releases winter schedule early

Low-cost carrier easyJet has launched its winter schedule early, and easyJet holidays for the winter 2020-2021 season will be available to book tomorrow (March 19).

It said: “Due to the unprecedented circumstances, we’re launching our winter schedule early so that if you have an existing booking you can change to a flight for travel up until February 2021.

“We’ve waived our change fees until further notice, so you can currently amend the date and/or destination of your existing flight booking for free.”

Until midnight on Tuesday March, fares for flights from October 25, 2020, until February 28, 2021, will be available at or below £29.99 one-way per person.


Air Malta suspends all flights

Commercial flights will be suspended “until further notice” in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Non-Maltese nationals are being urged to contact their respective embassies.


Peru gathers data on stranded British tourists

The Peruvian Tourism Ministry is consolidating information on tourists who have not managed to leave the country, after its borders were closed on March 16.

The British Embassy in the Peruvian capital Lima has tweeted a link to the form that travellers must fill in. The Twitter feed is @UKinPeru.

British nationals in Peru who wish to return home should contact their airline or tour operator about possible outbound flights.


Qantas cuts international capacity by 90%

Australia’s Qantas Group will cut its international services by 90% until at least the end of May – up from a 23% reduction announced last week.

Its workforce of 30,000 faces periods of paid and unpaid leave in addition to measures already announced, including three months of no pay for the chief executive and chairman, significant pay cuts for other executives.


Elegant Resorts forms dedicated coronavirus team

Staff at luxury tour operator Elegant Resorts have formed a dedicated team of 12 to help clients and travel agents affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Based at the operator’s headquarters in Chester, they are reviewing, amending and rescheduling all imminent holiday plans.

Managing director Lisa Fitzell said: “We have decided to create this new service to help our clients and agent partners navigate the constant changes we are facing regarding current and future bookings.”


Heathrow Express offers flexibility on tickets

Heathrow Express is offering customers with fixed date tickets, including Duo Saver and Group Saver tickets, the option to change their travel date for free.

If customers have a Fixed Day Single Standard ticket for travel up to April, they can exchange it for another day up to six months from the date shown free of charge by contacting the customer relations team.


Loganair cuts half of network

The reductions for April and May come as bookings continue to fall “dramatically”.

Staff have been asked to consider a series of measures aimed at protecting employment levels – including reducing working hours by 20% and accepting a 20% reduction in salary as a result or taking a period of unpaid leave.


Braemar passengers to be flown home from Cuba

Passengers stuck on coronavirus-hit cruise ship Braemar in the Caribbean are to be flown home today.

The vessel has 28 passengers in isolation, having shown influenza-like symptoms.


US travel ban hits 3.3m airline seats

The UK is set to be hit worst by the restrictions imposed to limit the spread of coronavirus, travel analytics firm ForwardKeys revealed.


Liverpool airport warns of redundancies and lay-offs

The Merseyside airport revealed that “all cost reduction opportunities are being pursued” with capital expenditure also being deferred.


Concern over travellers stranded overseas

Consumer group Which? Travel revealed it had been contacted by an increasing number of passengers who have been asked to pay “extortionate” flight change fees or left stranded by airlines in countries placed under lockdown or where travel restrictions are being introduced.


roundtable

Special Report: Travel Weekly coronavirus round-table

Senior industry figures came together to discuss how to handle the biggest crisis the sector has seen. Ian Taylor reports


Calls for swift to support travel and aviation

Government urged to act immediately with emergency measures as part of chancellor Rishi Sunak’s £330 billion bailout to keep businesses alive during the coronavirus epidemic.

Abta, unions and aviation bodies have urged ministers to release details of what support will be available and to implement it without delay.

Tuesday March 17


A message from Sky Princess

Last week, Princess stated it was voluntarily pausing its global operations for 60 days in response to the coronavirus crisis.

Sky Princess will return to sail a season across Scandinavia and Russia after this time. Three other ships will be based in the UK.
1


Government to suspend business rates for retail and hospitality sectors

Chancellor ditches business rates for those in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors for the rest of the year amid “unprecedented package” of £330 billion to support UK companies of all sizes through the coronavirus pandemic – amounting to about 15% of the UK’s GDP.


Advantage calls for immediate finance aid for SMEs

Consortium says the government needs to sanction immediate financial aid for small and medium sized businesses to survive the coronavirus pandemic.

Fears raised that the government was not acting fast enough, with all support measures to date not providing funds immediately in members’ bank accounts.


Gatwick airport is axing 200 jobs

Airport is also cutting the pay of bosses by 20% as it battles to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

It said it has taken the “very difficult decision” to terminate the employment of 200 staff employed on temporary fixed-term contracts and contractors.


Vail’s North American resorts to remain shut for this season

Vail Resorts will keep its North American resorts closed for the 2019-20 winter ski season.

It will consider reopening Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado, Heavenly Mountain Resort in Lake Tahoe and Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia in late April/early May, depending on the coronavirus situation and weather conditions.


Puy du Fou show postpones opening to April 18

French attraction Puy du Fou has postponed the launch of its 2020 season from April 4 to April 18 and will remain open until November 1.
Meanwhile, in Spain, it has postponed the opening of Puy du Fou España’s large-scale night-time show El Sueño de Toledo until April 25.


Tipto cancels events in March

Supplier marketing organisation Tipto has postponed events planned for the rest of March.

It said: “Due to the current situation with Covid-19, and following feedback received from Tipto members and its agents, it is with regret that we have taken the decision to postpone the following events: March 19 in Sunderland; March 24 in Edinburgh; and March 31 in Belfast.

“These events will be moved to dates later in the year when we have more information on the evolving Covid-19 situation and its impact.”


Travel agent makes plea to public to support industry

Luxury Travel Gurus owner Jenny Jackson warns:

“After all this is over everyone will want to get away and unless we support our travel industry now we will have no airlines, overseas hotels or attractions left. Please help us save our travel industry,” she said.


Ryanair ‘severely’ reduces Spanish services

Ryanair has told passengers travelling from Spain that those booked to fly from March 21 to March 28 need to move to an alternative date.

It said today: “In response to the decision of the Spanish government to ‘lock down’ the entire country to contain the spread of the covid-19 virus, Ryanair Group Airlines – including Buzz and Lauda – has been forced to severely reduce flights to/from Spain, the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands from 24:00 Sun 15 Mar until 24:00 Fri 20 Mar.

“Customers that were already checked-in for their return flight may have experienced difficulties to change their booking.

“Today we are unchecking all customers booked on flights exiting Spain from 21 Mar to 28 Mar and advising them to apply for a free move on an alternative date via our online service.”


Britons advised to avoid foreign travel for 30 days

The UK government has advised all Britons to avoid non-essential travel overseas for an initial period of one month effective immediately.

British people overseas are not being asked to immediately return to the UK, except for a few countries detailed in the Foreign office travel advice, but have been urged to “keep in mind that flights may be cancelled at short notice or other travel restrictions may be put in place by foreign governments”.


Travel Weekly Coronavirus Crisis Advice Panel

coronavirus-panel

Travel Weekly has gathered a panel of industry, business and legal experts to answer your questions as you try to run your businesses during the coronavirus crisis.

They are: Mark Tanzer, chief executive of Abta; Nikki
Spoor
, accountancy, business and regulatory advisor at White Hart Associates; and Matt
Gatenby
and Ami Naru, travel and employment law specialists respectively, from Travlaw.

Submit
your questions here


Travel Network Group to make 15 roles redundant

In a letter to members, chief executive Gary Lewis said the group had been “pulling together a plan on how to protect its business” in the current climate.

Speaking to Travel Weekly, he said: “We have had to put 15 people at risk of redundancy. All different parts of the business have been affected. We have also frozen all new recruitment.


Operators suspend tours around the world as crisis escalates

A host of tour operators have announced more holiday departures are being cancelled as coronavirus travel restrictions tighten around the world.

Affected suppliers include AAT Kings, Exodus, Headwater, Ramblers Walking Holidays, Topdeck and Back Roads Touring.


Bulgaria travellers should arrange to leave

British travellers in Bulgaria should arrange to leave as a state of emergency was declared over coronavirus.

The Foreign Office now advises against all but essential travel to the country after “stringent measures” were introduced by the Bulgarian government.

The FCO said in updated travel advice: “We recommend that British nationals who wish to leave the country make arrangements to do so as soon as possible.

“The Bulgarian government has introduced a number of measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“These include a temporary travel ban for British nationals entering Bulgaria starting from midnight March 17-18.

“This does not apply to British nationals with permanent or long-term residence in Bulgaria.”


Seychelles travel advice updated

The Foreign Office is advising against all but essential travel to Seychelles.

It will not be possible for travellers coming from, or having transited through, the UK or European Union to enter the Indian islands nation from 8pm on Wednesday.

Returning residents are exempt but will be placed in mandatory quarantine in government quarantine centres for 14 days on arrival.

No ship will be allowed to enter Seychelles waters if any passenger on board has been to the UK, EU, China, South Korea or Iran in the last 14 days.

The new FCO travel advice is due to restrictions put in place by the Seychelles government in response to the outbreak of coronavirus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in Seychelles and local authorities have introduced a number of precautionary measures to limit the spread.


Government urged to become ‘insurer of last resort’

Accountancy and advisory firm BDO warned that the industry faced “unprecedented difficulty” in the weeks ahead.

Prime minister Boris Johnson yesterday urged people to avoid unnecessary social contacts, to work from home where possible, and to stay away from pubs and restaurants.


Jet2 lays on rescue flights as coronavirus shuts down destinations

The carrier is laying on rescue flights in an effort to repatriate holidaymakers facing the prospect of being stranded overseas as countries shut borders to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

While flights are suspended to many destinations, aircraft are being redeployed to fly people home.


UKinbound asks for ‘urgent and aggressive’ government intervention

Trade association said urgent measures need to include guidance on how businesses can apply for Business Interruption Loans.


UK airports ‘face shutdown within weeks’ unless ministers intervene

The Airport Operators Association fears imminent closures unless ministers intervene.

Call follows airlines such as British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, easyJet and Ryanair slashing schedules in the face of a slump in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.


Travel Counsellors founders offers free advice

Travel Counsellors founder David Speakman and colleague Richard Mathias, chief executive of their company Genus – are offering advice or mentoring to anyone in need of help or support.


Designer Travel offers free advice to self-employed agents

Founder and managing director Amanda Matthews has produced a fact sheet of advice for her own 90 homeworkers to help them support customers and keep their businesses afloat over the coming months.

But she decided to make it more widely available to the rest of the industry, offering to share her advice sheet with anyone on Facebook. Here it is in full below:


High street travel agencies close doors

Independent high street miniples Miles Morgan Travel and Tailor Made Travel have shut their doors following government advice to limit non-essential movements


Shearings and Titan cancel tours

Tour operators Shearings Holidays and Titan Travel have announced cancellations because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Shearings Holidays has cancelled coach and self-drive breaks, while Titan said it will suspend all of its touring and cruising programme – both until April 30.


British travellers urged to leave Tunisia as travel restrictions spread

Air services between the north African nation and all other countries, including the UK, will be suspended on Wednesday, the Foreign Office warned.


Global airline alliances appeal for ‘extraordinary support’

The British Airways-backed Oneworld grouping, SkyTeam and Star Alliance, which contribute more than half of global airline capacity, have demanded government action to “alleviate the immense pressures” caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Virgin Atlantic, whose US partner is SkyTeam member Delta Air Lines, last week called for UK government support for the sector including emergency credit of up to £7.5 billion.


Carnival Corportion agrees $3bn in borrowing as cruises halted

Tapping the credit facility will increases the group’s cash position and “preserve financial flexibility in light of current uncertainty in the global markets resulting from the Covid-19 outbreak”.

The proceeds from the borrowings will be available to be used for working capital, general corporate or other purposes, the corporation said.


Atol renewal deadline ‘to be extended’

The Civil Aviation Authority is expected to announce it will push back the Atol renewal deadline by 28 days tomorrow.

An industry source said the move would give the industry some “breathing space” but could also “prolong the agony” for some.

 


Monday March 16

Aito calls for package travel regulations shake-up

The Specialist Travel Association (Aito) is urging Government to change package travel regulations to help the survival of more than 120 small and medium sized businesses in its organisation.

Bharat Gadhoke, head of commercial, said the Package Travel Regulations were “no longer fit for purpose” in the current crisis.

PM: ‘Avoid non-essential travel’

Prime minister Boris Johnson has said everyone in the UK should avoid ‘non-essential’ travel and contact with others to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

He said everyone should stop non-essential contact with others, such as starting to work from home where they can, and avoiding pubs, clubs, theatres and other social venues.


Manchester Airports Group cuts pay and lays off staff

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) – which owns Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands airports – plans a range of measures to cut costs.

It will consult staff about enforcing annual leave and reducing working hours, as well as temporary pay cuts and temporary lay-offs.

The group’s executive team is taking an immediate pay cut, while freezing recruitment and pausing capital expenditure.


Collette
cancels tours until April 15

Collette is cancelling all its tours which depart up to and including April 15.

Departures to Italy will be cancelled up to and including April 30, with normal operations resuming on May 1.

Departures to China will be cancelled until August 31, with normal operations resuming on September 1.


Egypt to suspend all international flights

Egypt is to suspend all international flights in and out of airports from March 19 until March 31.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly also said all hotels and tourist attractions would be extensively cleaned and sterilised by the end of the month.


Unite demands urgent aid for aviation

The country’s biggest union says the prime minister must “implement an urgent comprehensive financial package to support the aviation industry” – otherwise tens of thousands of jobs will be at risk.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey has called for a meeting with Boris Johnson to discuss the industry’s call for an emergency summit and support.

It wants the government to help cover workers’ salaries; consider taking financial stakes in airlines and airports; extend loans to airlines and airports; and implement a delay in the payment of taxes and duties, including a temporary suspension or reduction in Air Passenger Duty (APD).


EU to ban non-essential foreign arrivals

The EU is planning to ban foreign arrivals into Europe for 30 days.

President of the EU commission Ursula von der Leyen said there would be some exceptions for certain groups, including long-term residents of the EU, family members of EU nationals and diplomats.


Austrian Airlines suspends all flights

Austrian Airlines will temporarily suspend all regular flight operations from Wednesday night (March 18).

Its last flight will depart from Chicago, landing in Vienna on the morning of March 19.

Initially, Austrian Airlines will cancel all flights up until March 28 and passengers who have booked a flight during that time will be rebooked on other airlines if possible.


Brittany Ferries suspends more passenger services

Brittany Ferries is suspending more passenger services following changes to government policies in France, Spain and Ireland.

Details of its latest changes are
online
, and show suspensions on Cherbourg-Poole, St Malo-Portsmouth and Roscoff-Plymouth services, and routes between France and Ireland.

Sailings between Portsmouth and Caen continue as normal, for passengers and freight.

Ships serving routes to Spain will continue to sail but they will only carry passengers who must return home.

The ferry operator has already announced other suspensions.


Pilots call for immediate government help

The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) warns that without significant government support “there may not be a UK aviation industry left” after the coronavirus crisis.

Brian Strutton, general secretary at the union, said: “The UK aviation industry supports around half a million jobs…if the industry is left to crumble entirely the long-term impact on our economy could be devastating.

“Those in power must keep one eye on the future, as well as tackling the immediate threat.

“The effect may be temporary but we are facing a near total shutdown of UK aviation for the next two months at least.

“Airlines cannot survive that without help and government needs to step in now with guarantees and funding.”


A-Rosa adds Rhine to list of suspensions

A-Rosa River Cruises has suspended its cruises on the Rhine, in addition to earlier announcements about the Danube, Rhone and Seine.

It will stop sailings on the Danube and Rhine until April 3 and on the Rhône and Seine until April 15.

The port of Amsterdam has been closed to all cruise ships and Germany has closed its borders to five countries.

A-Rosa is liaising with tour operator and travel agency partners about cancelled sailings.


Etihad suspends more services

Etihad Airways has suspended a number of services from Abu Dhabi to numerous cities, including Milan, Rome, Madrid, Hong Kong and Seoul. See the full schedule of changes here


Braemar heads to Cuba to repatriate passengers

Fred Olsen ship Braemar is sailing from the Bahamas to Cuba, where passengers will be allowed to disembark and fly back to the UK.

Five people on Braemar, including four crew members, had tested positive for Covid-19 at Willemstad, Curaçao, on March 10.

The cruise line is working with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office about onward travel arrangements and with Public Health England about requirements for passengers once they return to the UK.

There are currently 22 guests and 21 crew who are in isolation, after displaying influenza-like symptoms.


Air New Zealand cuts capacity by 85%

Air New Zealand is reducing capacity by 85% and has placed itself into a ‘trading halt’ with redundancies likely.

The airline said it would operate a minimal schedule to allow passengers to return home, with full details to be released in the coming days

It confirmed it will be suspending flights between Auckland and Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, Buenos Aires, Vancouver, Tokyo Narita, Honolulu, Denpasar and Taipei from 30 March 30 to June 30. It is also suspending its London- Los Angeles service from March 20 and 21 March until June 30.

Customers are being advised not to call the airline unless they are travelling within the next 48 hours.

As a result of the downturn, the airline is also reviewing its cost base and said it would need to start the process of redundancies.


Abta warns travel job losses could reach ‘tens of thousands’

Abta warns travel businesses employing tens of thousands of people could go bust unless the government gives urgent support to the sector.

The association has also written the prime minister and the business secretary calling for immediate, temporary changes to the UK Package Travel Regulations at European and UK government level.


Norwegian cancels 85% of flights and lays off 90% of staff

Norwegian is cancelling 85% of its flights and temporarily laying off 7,300 staff – 90% of its workforce.

The airline said in a statement: “The Covid-19 situation is escalating by the hour and due to stagnating demand and enforced travel restrictions by authorities worldwide, Norwegian will gradually cancel most of its flights and temporarily lay off a major share of its workforce.”


Jet2 suspends Dubrovnik and Amsterdam services

Jet2 is suspending all flights to Dubrovnik up to May 31, while its services to Amsterdam will stop on March 18 until April 30.

Services to Pula, Split and Zadar remain unaffected.

The airline said it will contact all customers due to be on Dubrovnik or Amsterdam flights.

The airline has already axed services to Services to Italy, mainland Spain, the Balearic, Canary Islands, Nice, Paris, Grenoble and Lyon.


Ryanair axes flight change fees

Ryanair passengers can now move their flight, free of charge, to a date in the future.

The airline will waive the usual flight change fee and customers will only have to pay the difference in fare.

Ryanair also advises customers not to try to change to another date in April.


FCO advises against Cyprus, Norway, Slovenia and Montenegro; St Lucia and Mauritius extend bans

The Foreign Office has today said it advises against all but essential travel to Cyprus, Norway, Slovenia and Montenegro, while Saint Lucia and Mauritius have extended travel bans to include visitors from the UK.

The updated advice about Cyprus says tourists on the island should leave their tourist accommodation by March 21 as hotels and other tourist accommodation must close from March 21 to April 30.

The Slovene government has announced the cancellation of air traffic from 23.59 on March 16, including passenger flights to and from the UK.

The advice about Montenegro and Norway follows new government measures limiting travel.

Mauritius has extended its travel restrictions to include visitors from the UK, who will not be allowed entry or transit from March 18, for a period of 14 days.

Saint Lucia has also extended its restrictions to those who have been in the UK. The ban comes into force on March 17.


Virgin Atlantic to cut capacity by 80%

Virgin Atlantic is cutting its capacity by 80% and pulling its Heathrow-Newark service for good.

The transatlantic carrier said it would only operate core routes based on customer demand.

Approximately 80% of daily flights will be cut until March 26 and 75% of its fleet parked. In April, up to 85% of its planes will be grounded.


Rendez-vous Canada trade show cancelled

Destination Canada and the Tourism Industry Association of Canada have cancelled the Rendez-vous Canada 2020 trade show, scheduled to take place in Quebec City from May 5-8.

In a joint statement, the tourism board and association said: “Our decision on this was made clearer last Friday (March 13) when the prime minister of Canada Justin Trudeau and several of his ministers announced tightened restrictions and enhanced guidelines on international travel, border control measures, mass gatherings, among other tourism-related areas.”

It is now looking at refunds for those who had registered, and virtual appointments for buyers and sellers.


CroisiEurope suspends all cruises until April 15

River cruise operator CroisiEurope has postponed all of its cruises until and including April 15.

Affected passengers will receive full credit for cruise at a future date plus a £150 voucher for a future cruise.

For all new bookings made between March 16 and May 1 for all departures until August 31, passengers may cancel free of charge up to 30 days from their departure date.

The launch of its new ship La Belle des Océans, due to take place on April 16 in Nice, has also been cancelled.

Meanwhile, Asia river cruise operator Pandaw said clients booking for next season can change their dates or itinerary in return for a credit on another sailing.


Dnata begins ‘widespread review’ of business

Dnata Travel Group has begun a “widespread review” of its business in response to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter issued to suppliers on Monday, the Gold Medal and Travel2 parent said it was “looking hard at where processes can be streamlined, investments made and efficiencies delivered for the benefit of all our stakeholders”.


Alitalia asks passengers to wear face masks

Italian carrier Alitalia says passengers are required to wear protective breathing masks on board its flights.

It says on its website: “Alitalia informs passengers that, before boarding, they will be required to have their own protective mask to be worn in case a large number of travellers on board would not allow to respect the one-metre interpersonal safety distance.

“Alitalia could deny boarding to passengers who are not be in possession of their own personal protective device.”

The airline also recommends travellers wear a protective mask while at airports and during boarding and disembarking.

Most carriers have now stopped direct flights between Italy and the UK. Alitalia continues to operate flights on a reduced basis.

Elsewhere, Ukraine International announced it will suspend all scheduled international flights from March 17 to March 31.

It follows the decision by the government of Ukraine to temporarily ban foreigners from entering the country, until April 3.


Launch of Tui River Cruises postponed to May 2

Tui has postponed the launch of Tui River Cruises and cancelled all sailings until and including May 2.

The first public sailings were due to depart on March 29, with three ships operating itineraries on several European waterways.

Customers booked on affected sailings will get a full refund or can re-book onto any other available sailing until October 31.


Ryanair warns it could ground entire fleet

Ryanair is to ground the majority of its fleet in the next seven to 10 days and warned all flights could be stopped in April and May.

In the last week a swathe of European countries have closed borders and banned flights.


P&O, Cunard, Seabourn and HAL suspend sailings

Four Carnival-owned cruise lines – Cunard, P&O Cruises, Seabourn and Holland America Line – are temporarily suspending global operations because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Cunard and P&O Cruises will suspend new cruises until April 11, while Holland America Line will stop cruises for 30 days, affecting sailings scheduled to depart until April 14, 2020.

Seabourn has paused global operations of its five cruise ships for 30 days, from March 14.


Jet2holidays offers money off re-bookings

Jet2holidays is offering agents’ customers who are affected by recent route cancellations £60 off re-bookings.

They should use promotion code REBOOK60 to receive the saving.

The offer is valid for travel in all seasons, minimum two adults.


Miles Morgan Travel offers to do shopping for elderly clients

Travel agency owner Miles Morgan said he had made the decision to help customers in this way following news the government plans to ask people over the age of 70 to self-isolate in the near future because of the coronavirus. The agency chain has 17 shops and three homeworkers.


Comment: Standing with you
all

The impact of this crisis is devastating for the entire industry and Travel Weekly stands in support of you all, says editor-in-chief Lucy Huxley


Best Western offers hotels for temporary NHS beds

he UK’s largest independent hotel chain, Best Western, is to enter discussions with the government about turning its properties into temporary hospitals.


Fred
Olsen’s Braemar awaits medical supplies in The Bahamas

Fred Olsen ship Braemar has been given safe haven in The Bahamas after 20 guests and crew were taken ill with flu-like symptoms.


FCO advises against all but essential travel to South Africa

The move came as South African authorities introduced measures restricting individuals entering South Africa if they have come from countries affected by coronavirus including UK. The new measures will come in to force on March 18.


EasyJet calls for government backing to secure future of sector

Low cost carrier easyJet has called for backing from governments in Europe to ensure the survival of the aviation sector after the coronavirus pandemic.


IAG’s Willie Walsh to delay retirement

BA parent IAG has put planned management changes on hold as it battles to cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.


Tui Group suspends ‘majority of travel operations’ due to coronavirus

A statement on Sunday evening from the Hanover-based giant said the suspension was in line with government guidelines and would include package travel, cruises and hotel operations.


SAS to halt flights

The Foreign Office is warning that Scandinavian airline SAS “will halt most of its traffic from March 2020 16” and urges passengers to check the airline’s website if planning to travel.


Latest FCO travel advisories

The FCO is now advising against all but essential travel to Morocco, the Dominican Republic and Indonesia.


Sunday March 15

Advice: How to ensure your business survives the current crisis

Travel, audit and tax director at travel specialist accountancy firm White Hart Associates, Nikki Spoor, says businesses need to take decisive action to survive.


Advice: Could your business run out of cash? Act early and contingency plan

Henry Wells, managing director, M&A Advisory, and Phil Dakin, managing director, Corporate Advisory at Duff & Phelps, outline what practical steps travel firms can take to stay afloat during the pandemic.


Ronaldo to convert Madeira hotels into makeshft hospitals

Footballer Cristiano Ronaldo is reportedly going to allow his hotels in his native Portugal to temporarily convert into hospitals to care for people with coronavirus.

The Juventus forward, and five-time Ballon d’Or winner, is to cover the costs of turning his CR7 brand properties in Madeira into hospitals, according to Spanish newspaper Marca.

The UK Foreign Office is advising against all but essential travel to Madeira.


FCO advises against travel to Norway

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is now advising against all but essential travel to Norway “due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and in line with various controls and restrictions imposed by the Norwegian authorities.”

British nationals in Norway have been asked follow the advice of the Norwegian authorities.


Silversea isolates passengers on two ships

Passengers test positive for COVID-19 on board Silver Explorer, which is docked in Chile, and Silver Shadow, currently in Brazil.

Confirmed cases have been ‘medically disembarked’ while remaining passengers isolated in cabins.


Jet2 suspends flights to French destinations

Services to Nice, Paris, Grenoble and Lyon to be halted, with customers flown home.


CAA warns of ‘threat to survival’ of some travel businesses

The Civil Aviation Authority has warned of the “threat to the survival of some businesses” as a result of the impact of coronavirus.

The aviation body says the “underlying consumer desire” for travel is “strong” but warned travel companies to take “very difficult actions” to prepare for “the most challenging period for aviation and package holiday businesses we have witnessed”.


FCO advises against all but essential travel to Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is the latest destination that the UK Foreign Office is advising citizens not to travel to.

In updated guidelines, the FCO said: “The Sri Lankan Government has decided that people arriving from the UK, or having travelled through the UK, will not be allowed to enter Sri Lanka from midnight on March 16 (1830 GMT March 15).

“We therefore advise against all but essential travel if you are travelling from or via the UK.”


Foreign Office advises against all but essential travel to US

The change in travel advice follows the US government extending its transatlantic flight ban from 26 European countries to include the UK.

The US restrictions will be enforced from the early hours of March 17 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The FCO said: “From 23:59 eastern daylight time on 16 March (03:59 GMT 17 March) it will not be possible for many British nationals to enter the USA.

British travellers in the US will be allowed to leave.


Singapore issues ‘stay at home’ order

All travellers entering Singapore with a recent travel history to Asean countries, Japan and Switzerland and the UK will be issued with a 14-day “stay at home” order from Monday.

They will also be required to provide proof of where they will serve the order, for example, a hotel or private residence, the Foreign Office said in updated travel advice.

They might also be swabbed on arrival to test for coronavirus.

The latest measures come as the Singapore government seeks to limit the spread of the virus.

Travellers from the UK are being urged to check with their travel provider before departure.

Around 450,000 British tourists a year visit Singapore.


Ryanair cuts Spanish flights from Monday

All Ryanair airlines, including Buzz and Lauda, have been forced to “severely reduce” flights to and from mainland Spain, the Balearic Islands and Canaries until March 19.

Europe’s largest budget airline group is making the cuts in response to the Spanish government’s state of emergency imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Ryanair said: “We are contacting all affected customers by email to advise them of their options and we urge customers not to call us.

“This is a fast-moving and complex situation and the safety and well-being of our people and customers is our main priority.

“We will continue to comply fully with all WHO and EASA guidelines and we will follow any travel restrictions that are imposed.

“Ryanair Group Airlines apologises sincerely to all customers affected by these restrictions introduced by the Spanish government which are necessary to combat the Covid-19 virus.”


Leger Holidays reviewing all March departures

Leger Holidays is allowing holidaymakers due to travel on European coach tours in April to switch to a date later in the year or in 2021.

The operator is reviewing all departures between March 16 and April 1 “following recent FCO advice and anticipating further changes to current advice in the near future”.

The company added: “We are proactively working to contact all customers directly in departure date order with more information and to discuss alternative travel arrangements.

“During this time we expect our phone lines to be extremely busy with a high volume of calls and we politely ask that you await our communication and urge you not to contact us where possible.

“This is a fast-paced and complex situation and we are doing all we can to ensure we can re-arrange your travel plans as quickly as possible.”


A-Rosa suspends cruises on three European rivers

A-Rosa River Cruises is temporarily suspending its cruises on the Danube, Rhone and Seine.

The company made the decision after the French health ministry issued a decree prohibiting cruise ships with more than 100 passengers on board from calling at French ports until April 15.

All A-Rosa cruises on the Seine and Rhone will be cancelled until that time.

Sailings on the Danube will also be cancelled up to April 3 due to tighter entry restrictions imposed in Austria, which do not allow guests to travel to the departure point of the line’s ships.

A-Rosa said: “We are currently liaising with all our tour operator and travel agency partners to provide them with all the latest information for their customers.

“We are offering free re-booking to a later date in either the 2020 or 2021 season and guests will receive an additional on board credit of €50 per person.

“They will also receive a special discount of 30% off a future A-Rosa cruise.”


Inghams cancels ski programme

Ighams has urged customers due to travel to France not to go to the airport today as ski lifts in resorts are being closed for the rest of the season.

This follows many authorities across Austria, Andorra, Italy and Switzerland closing ski lifts and resorts as a precautionary measure against the spread of coronavirus in Europe.

The company said on Friday afternoon: “Even though the Foreign & Commonwealth Office advice has not changed for all countries, as a responsible tour operator, we will not be operating Inghams ski holidays to resorts in any of these countries for the rest of the 2019/2020 winter season.”

Inghams has also been forced to cancel its winter ski programme to Canada after authorities changed entry requirements.


Travel restrictions imposed as Spain declares state of emergency

A clampdown on travel to Spain has been imposed overnight after a state of emergency was declared in the country for at least two weeks to fight coronavirus.

The Foreign Office changed its travel advice shortly after midnight to advise against all but essential travel to Spain, which attracted 18 million British holidaymakers last year.

The state of emergency announced on Saturday introduced a series of measures including “significant restrictions” on movement throughout the country in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Spain has recorded more than 6,300 cases of the virus with more than 190 deaths, the worst-hit country in Europe after Italy.


UK airlines need emergency cash injection to survive

Emergency government action is needed to prevent the UK aviation sector being wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic.

Virgin Atlantic is to request an industry bailout of £7.5 billion in a direct plea to prime minister Boris Johnson.

And trade body Airlines UK has appealed for a support package worth several billion pounds.


Coronavirus: Tui increases cancellations as travel restrictions bite

Tui is cancelling holiday programmes to a raft of countries as strict travel restrictions are imposed in an effort to combat the spread of coronavirus.

The UK’s largest operator is offering refunds but warned that it is receiving a high volume of calls and urged for “patience as we work through them”.

Holiday have been cancelled to the US, Spain, Jamaica, Cyprus, Madeira, Malta, Tunisia, Italy, Goa while restrictions apply to other destinations.

Saturday March 14

 

Abta urges people to check rapidly changing travel advice

Abta has urged people considering travelling during the “extraordinary” coronavirus pandemic to check the rapidly changing government travel advice.

Abta said: “Given the extraordinary volume of enquiries, and the rapidly changing situation, the best course of action for travellers with future bookings is to monitor and follow FCO advice for the destination they are travelling to, and wait for their travel provider to contact them if the situation changes in regards to their booking.

“Many travel companies are doing all they can to offer flexible booking policies at this time, such as giving customers the option to change their departure dates without charge, so we’d recommend talking to them about the options that are open to you.”


US extends travel ban to the UK and Ireland

The US has extended its ban on European travel to include the UK and Ireland.

The UK had previously been excluded from a transatlantic travel ban from 26 European countries, announced last week by Trump to battle the spread of coronavirus.

Vice-president Mike Pence announced the restrictions will begin at midnight Monday night EST (0400 GMT on Tuesday).


Brittany
Ferries withdraws ships

Brittany Ferries has withdrawn some of its fleet and made changes to its sailing schedule as a result of the coronavirus.

The moves, in place until at least April 9, have been made to ensure sufficient crew are available to operate as many services as possible, the company said.

Its ship Étretat is to be withdrawn from service following its arrival into Le Havre on Tuesday, March 17. It currently offers a daily service out of Portsmouth.

In addition, Pont-Aven will not return to service on March 17 as planned. It was scheduled to serve Portsmouth, Santander, Plymouth, Roscoff and Cork.

The ferry operator’s Kerry service between Rosslare and Bilbao will now only take freight, with the last passenger service leaving Bilbao on Sunday, March 15.

Its freight-only service Pelican, linking Bilbao in Spain with Poole in the UK, will take only unaccompanied trailers, without any drivers.

All passengers with existing reservations will be offered a full refund. Where possible, alternative arrangements will be made on to other services.

The ferry company said its usual response times could be slower as a result of its customer relations team being much busier than normal.


Call for compulsory flight and holiday deferral

Travel Weekly columnist Steve Endacott urges the government to allow airlines and travel companies to make it compulsory for customers to defer holidays until the coronavirus crisis has subsided.

Endacott claims that crisis is set to decimate the holiday industry and travel firms need to retain cash in order to survive.


Royal Caribbean Cruises suspends sailings globally

Royal Caribbean Cruises is to suspend all sailings of its fleet globally from midnight on March 14.

The announcement is a change to its previous statement.

The cruise line said that given global public health circumstances it has decided to suspend all sailings worldwide.

In a statement, the company said: “We will conclude all current sailings as scheduled and assist our guests with their safe return home.”

It expects ships to return to service on April 11, 2020.


Foreign Office advises against travel to Poland

The Foreign Office is advising against all but essential travel to Poland.

The move follows a decision by the Polish government to ban foreign nationals from entering the country from midnight on Saturday, March 14.


Ryanair cancels all flights to Poland

Ryanair has cancelled all its flights to Poland from Sunday, March 15, until Tuesday, March 31.

The move follows the Polish government’s decision to close its borders to foreign nationals from midnight on Saturday, March 14.

All clients are being contacted by email. The airline urged customers not to telephone.


Intrepid Group suspends all group tours

Intrepid Group is suspending all tours under its Intrepid Travel and Peregrine Adventures brands globally.

The tour operator is stopping tours from Monday, March 16, until April 30. The only exception is Intrepid’s Australian tours, which are currently due to go ahead as planned, said the company.

Customers booked to travel with either of the brands during this period will receive a credit valued at 110% of the booking value, valid for two years.

Tours that are currently operating will continue until April 3 but any customers who opt to leave early will receive a credit for the remainder of their itinerary.


FCO advises against all but essential travel to Malta and Vietnam

The Foreign Office is advising against all but essential travel to Malta and Vietnam.

It said today: “Vietnam has announced that from noon Vietnam time (0500 UK) on 15 March 2020 all foreign nationals will be refused entry to Vietnam if in the previous 14 days they have been to the UK, or any Schengen country, even in transit. This restriction will be in place for 30 days.

“There is a high risk that British nationals will be put into 14 days of quarantine while the authorities impose travel restrictions.

“We are not advising British nationals resident in Vietnam to leave as the risks of quarantine for them are much lower.”

It also upgraded its advice to Malta,  because of travel restrictions implemented by the Maltese government related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The government has introduced a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine period for all arrivals into Malta, which will affect tourists and returning residents.

Quarantine is being enforced by spot checks and large fines.


APT suspends tours and cruises

The APT Travel Group has suspended all its international tours and cruises up to and including April 24.

A statement on its website said: “We have made the difficult decision to suspend all our international tours and cruises up to and including 24 April 2020. This is an unprecedented time and as such we are offering the following flexibility to guests with bookings during this time to be able to continue to travel with us.

“A future holiday credit equal to 120% of the value of the booking to be valid up until the end of 2021.

“We will be contacting all our members and agent partners directly affected by this change and we have set up a dedicated customer care team specifically for this situation.”


Warner Leisure Hotels offers free changes

Warner Leisure Hotels has extended the benefits of its Warner Holiday Protection. It normally costs £10 per person and enables customers to switch their holiday to different dates for free.

Customers making a new booking will get Warner Holiday Protection for free; and the company has added the protection to every booking in March, April, May and June for free.

Warner Holiday Protection also covers guests due to travel within the next seven days.

Guests due to travel to Warner in more than seven days’ time should wait until seven days before their break and then contact the company.

The cancellation fee for anyone that cancels their holiday within seven days of departure has been cut from the normal £80 per person to £35.

From March 16, all self-service buffets will be served by a staff member.


British Airways offers flexible terms

British Airways has introduced more flexible terms for customers wanting to change their flights.

A statement on Twitter said: “Due to the ongoing uncertainty around #Covid19, we have introduced flexible changes for anyone due to travel up to 31st May 2020. Visit
http://ba.com/confidence for more information about your options.”

Passengers travelling with BA between March 14 and May 31 can cancel their booking and receive a voucher for the same value. Vouchers are valid for 12 months and can be used to any destination.

The voucher can be used as part-payment towards a future booking to any destination.

There is no change fee on all bookings made between March 3 to May 31.


Marella Cruises cancels sailings

Tui-owned Marella Cruises has cancelled all sailings between March 14 and March 28.

It said in a statement on Saturday afternoon: “Marella Cruises has made the difficult decision to cancel all sailings due to travel between 14th and 28th March 2020, all customers affected will be proactively notified and automatically issued a full refund.”


Marriott updates cancellation policy

Marriott International has updated it cancellation policy.

A statement from chief executive Arne Sorenson said that “generally speaking”, guests with existing individual reservations including those with pre-paid rates could change or cancel without charge up to 24 hours before arrival until April 30.

Guests making bookings between now and April 30 will also be able to change or cancel their booking up to 24 hours before their arrival.


O’Leary reassures Ryanair customers

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has written to customers to apologise for inconvenience caused by the coronavirus outbreak and insisting the airline will emerge “stronger” from the crisis.

He said: “On behalf of all of us in Ryanair, we are truly sorry for any inconvenience the Covid-19 crisis may be causing you and your family.

“The safety and the well-being of our people and customers is our main priority, and we are working closely with all state authorities to follow all WHO and EASA guidelines to minimise any health risk to our people and customers.”

He added: “Over the last 35 years we have faced many crisis situations and, on every occasion, thanks to our customers and our people, Ryanair has emerged stronger.”


Blue Bay Travel adds flexible booking option

Blue Bay Travel has launched a Flexible Holiday option “to provide peace of mind to customers looking to book their holiday”.

Customers booking up to March 31 will have the option to delay their holiday or change destination up to 59 days before departure date with no amendment fee.

Maxine Rowland, managing director, said: “We know many people want to experience the fun and excitement of having a holiday to look forward to. However, we also understand that in times of uncertainty it can be daunting to fully commit.

“We want to put control and confidence in the hands of our customers, so they know that there are options out there. You can still have all the enjoyment of planning a trip away but now with the flexibility to change if things don’t go to plan.”


Kosmar suspends tour operator programme

Kosmar has suspended its 2020 holiday programme with immediate effect. The decisions does not affect bookings made via Tailor Made by Kosmar.

The operator said: “The welfare and safety of our customers is and always will be at the forefront of our operations. With this in mind, we have taken the decision to temporarily suspend our 2020 holiday programme with immediate effect. As you can imagine, this isn’t a decision that has been taken lightly and our holiday programme for 2021 remains on sale and unaffected.

“Bookings made via Tailor Made by Kosmar are not affected by this decision which only applies to our tour operating business. We will continue to be guided by the FCO when making difficult decisions about withdrawing destinations.”


Wizz Air suspends Polish flights

Low-cost carrier Wizz Air has suspended all its flights to and from Poland until further notice.

The move follows a decision by the Polish government to ban foreign nationals from entering the country from midnight on Saturday.

Wizz Air said the ban affects 20% of its capacity.

LOT Polish Airlines said it would be suspending all connections from Poland and Hungary until March 28.


Canada and New Zealand among countries imposing strict entry rules

Canada and New Zealand are among the countries now insisting all new arrivals self-isolate for 14 days.

Updated FCO advice for Canada said: “The Canadian authorities have published a number of recommendations to limit the spread of the virus. All travellers arriving in Canada are being asked to self-isolate for 14 days as a precaution. Boats and cruise ships carrying more than 500 people will be banned from docking at Canadian ports until July.”

Meanwhile, New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Arden said all arrivals including New Zealand nationals would be required to self-isolate for 14 days, while no cruise ships would be allowed to dock until June 30.

The FCO has also updated its advice for a raft of countries.


Jet2 suspends flights to
Spain

Jet2holidays has suspended its programme to mainland Spain, the Balearic and Canary Islands.

A statement from the operator said: “In response to local measures introduced throughout Spain to prevent the spread of COVID-19,  including the closure of bars, restaurants, shops and activities including any water sports, we have taken the decision to cancel all flights to Mainland Spain, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands with immediate effect.”

Chief executive Steve Heapy said he hoped measures taken in resorts would allow things to “return to normal in the next three to four weeks”.


Seatrade cruise convention postponed

The annual Seatrade Cruise Global event in Miami has been postponed.

The event was due to take place from April 20-23 and organisers had previously indicated that it would go ahead based on industry feedback.

A statement issued on March 13 said: “It’s clear now, however, that this is not possible due to the numerous globally imposed travel bans and the latest restrictions related to running events within Miami-Dade county, as well as the latest feedback we have received from many of you.

“We therefore confirm that Seatrade Cruise Global 2020 has been postponed and that we are working with our association partners and you, our customers on alternative options.”


G Adventures suspends tours between March 16 and April 30

G Adventures is the latest operator to suspend tours in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

The move follows similar action taken by Cosmos and Travel Corporation touring brands on Friday and applies to all tours departing between March 16 and April 30.

Tours already in operation or departing before March 16 will run as planned, though G Adventures will offer credit for disruption to select itineraries and has also offered a pro-rata credit for the land portion of a trip if customers wish to leave tours early.


UK could be added to US
travel ban

The UK could be added to the countries covered by a travel ban imposed by the US on Europe’s Schengen-zone countries, according to President Donald Trump.

Speaking after a press conference on Friday, Trump said a rise in confirmed cases in the UK could see it added to the list.


Princess Cruises issues Grand Princess statement

Princess Cruises issued a statement on Friday in relation to Grand Princess, confirming that all bar 14 international guests had now disembarked the ship.

The statement said: “As of 7am today, Princess Cruises can confirm that a total of approximately 2,450 people disembarked Grand Princess. There are 14 international guests remaining on the ship who are awaiting transportation to their home countries. Once those guests disembark, the guest disembarkation process for the Grand Princess will be complete.

“Plans for a crew quarantine are still being finalised.”


President Donald Trump addresses cruise industry

US president Donald Trump posted on Twitter that he had requested the suspension of US-based cruises, but also recognised the importance of the cruise industry.

He said: “At my request, effective midnight tonight, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and MSC have all agreed to suspend outbound cruises for thirty days. It is a great and important industry – it will be kept that way!”


All Clia cruise lines suspend US operations for 30 days

All cruises operated from US ports by Clia cruise lines have been suspended for 30 days.

A statement from the association confirmed the move and followed individual statements from a range of lines on Friday evening. Most announced a 30-day pause, though
MSC Cruises has suspended US-based operations until the end of April.

Kelly Craighead, president and chief executive of Clia, said: “This is an unprecedented situation. Our industry has taken responsibility for protecting public health for more than 50 years, working under the guidance of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and prides itself on its ability to deliver exceptional vacation experiences for guests, as well as meaningful employment opportunities for crew.

“This has been a challenging time, but we hope that this decision will enable us to focus on the future and a return to normal as soon as possible.”


Friday March 13

MSC Cruises extends suspensions to US-based ships

MSC Cruises has halted new itineraries on its US-based ships for 45 days until April 30.

The move follows the line’s decision to pause operations in the Mediterranean, the Gulf and Asia. Ships in South America and South Africa will end operations at the end of their current itineraries.


Royal Caribbean and NCL brands latest to suspend sailings

Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings brands including NCL, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas are the
latest cruise firms to have suspended voyages.

Royal Caribbean said it would be pausing its fleet’s US sailings for 30 days from midnight on Friday, though it confirmed cruises departing US ports before midnight and international cruises would operate their scheduled itineraries.

NCL said its three brands would be suspending all sailings embarking between March 13 and April 11. Guests on voyages that are underway will conclude and “be disembarked as soon as possible and assisted with travel arrangements”.


CMV latest cruise line to suspend sailings

Cruise and Maritime Voyages is the latest of a
raft of cruise lines to suspend all cruises
, and has done so until May 24.


If Only takes 15% bookings hit and halts agency visits

The luxury operator has seen a bookings downturn of about 15% since the escalation of the coronavirus outbreak, but says bookings since January 1 are 14% up YOY despite the recent hit.

If Only will “refrain from actively promoting any offers departing in the near future” and instead concentrate on bookings after summer 2020.

Visits to agencies will be put on hold, with more webinars available.

Product and distribution director Gordon McCreadie said strong demand for 2021 and 2022 “leaves me feeling hopeful that there is light at the end of the tunnel for tour operators”.

The operator has also prepared its staff to work from home. McCreadie said: “I’m confident that this approach and team effort will enable us to remain fully operational as the situation progresses.”


MS Arena launch postponed

Arena River Cruises has postponed the launch of new ship MS Arena.

The line said it “would not be appropriate” to go ahead with the event, which had been planned for March 30-April 1.

“We intend to reschedule the event at the earliest opportunity and will update you further as soon as it becomes possible to start making new plans,” it said in a statement.


Lufthansa group extends cancellation policy

Lufthansa Group Airlines (Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines and Air Dolomiti) are allowing customers to keep their ticket without having to commit to a new travel date in an extension of its coronavirus cancellation policy.

Tickets for travel up to April 30, and their value, will remain unchanged and can be rebooked to a new departure date up to and including 31 December 2020.


Malta imposes 14-day  quarantine period

The country’s prime minister announced that with immediate effect all passengers including British nationals must undertake a 14-day continuous period of quarantine.

Travellers arriving today (Friday) can travel back on their return ticket if not displaying symptoms.

ADDED MARCH 14: Malta has put in place a tourism helpline which can be contacted on +356 2169 2447 or tourismcovid-19helpline@visitmalta.com. Travellers  on island who need provisions of food and medicine can contact +356 21411 411. For a full list of Embassies and Consulates in Malta travellers can visit
https://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-in/malta


British Airways ‘under immense pressure’

Chief executive Alex Cruz tells staff: “Some of us have worked in aviation through the global financial crisis, the SARS outbreak and 9/11.

“What is happening right now is more serious than any of these events.”

The carrier is “under immense pressure”, he said, and will be forced to lay off staff, suspend routes and ground aircraft.


Airlines demand government action

Airline Association Iata said: “These are extraordinary times and governments are taking unprecedented measures.”

A4E called for any new aviation taxes to be deferred and for the Covid-19 pandemic to count as “extraordinary circumstances” and be outside the scope of EU rules on compensation for air passengers.


Comment: Why caution is key on coronavirus

The Covid-19 public health emergency poses an unprecedented challenge for the travel industry. The worst public health crisis in a generation means the worst in the era of mass travel. Conserving cash is now essential, argues Ian Taylor


Seabourn updates cancellation policy

Guests due to sail before July 31, 2020, can now cancel up to 48 hours before sailing and receive a future cruise credit.


Fred Olsen Cruise Lines suspends sailings

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has suspended ocean sailings until May 23 following government advice urging people over 70 or with underlying health issues to not cruise.

The line said it was “increasingly difficult” to be able to guarantee the safety of passengers and crew and that the priority was to get all existing passengers and crew home as safely as possible.

Each affected passenger will be contacted personally by the line to discuss through their options. The line is offering a refund or a voucher which can be used to buy any future cruise costing up to 125% of the original fare.

The line’s river ship Brabant is not affected by the pause in operations and the river programme will start as planned on April 6.


Scenic and Emerald suspend river sailings

Scenic and Emerald Cruises have become the latest cruise lines to suspend all river cruise operations until April 30, 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Scenic Group owner Glen Moroney said: “The health and safety of guests is our primary focus. We will continue to ensure they come first and foremost in all our decisions.”

The company is offering the choice of a future cruise credit valued at 125% of the booking or a refund to value of the amont paid.

Both lines have protected travel agent commission on bookings for cancelled cruises that were paid in full.


PortAventura World delays opening for summer season

The Spanish theme park said it is “obliged” to delay opening for the summer season after health authorities adopted “exceptional measures” to contain coronavirus.


Austria and Andorra close ski resorts

The Austrian government has announced ski resorts in Tyrol, Salzburg and Vorarlberg provinces are to close on March 15.

Accommodation in the resorts will close on March 16.

Inghams said it will not be operating holidays to Andorran ski resorts Soldeu, Pas de la
Casa, Arinsal and La Massana for the rest of the 2019/2020 winter season after the authorities announced it would be
closinh all ski lifts from the evening of March 13.

Fred Olsen passengers may not be able to disembark

Passengers on Fred Olsen Cruise Lines’ Braemar ship may not be allowed to disembark in Bahamas as planned.

The 924-passenger vessel has five confirmed coronavirus cases on board and was due to dock in Barbados yesterday.

However, the line decided to change the vessel’s course and sail to Bahamas.

In a statement, Fred Olsen said: “We have been told by authorities in the Bahamas that we may not be allowed to disembark passengers and crew there.”


Universal Orlando to close doors

Universal Orlando Resort is to shut for the rest of March.

The resort will close its doors on Sunday.


Tour operators suspend programmes

Trafalgar, Insight and
Contiki have cancelled all tours in Europe, the UK, the Middle East and Asia from March 13 to April 30.

Cosmos is also suspending all global operations for travel until the end of April.


UK advises against travel to Madrid

The UK Foreign Office (FCO) has advised against all but essential travel to regions of Spain designated as “areas of community transmission of coronavirus”.

These include Madrid and La Rioja in northern Spain, as well as the municipalities of La Bastida and Vitoria in the Basque Country and Miranda de Ebro in the northeast.


Tipto events going ahead for now


easyJet waives change fees

EasyJet is offering free transfers to alternative services if flights are cancelled due to the coronavirus fallout.

The UK budget carrier is waiving fees for passengers not wanting to fly from today.


‘Up to 50m travel and tourism jobs at risk’

A warning as been issued suggesting that up to 50 million travel and tourism jobs could be at risk due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Latest figures from the World Travel & Tourism Council estimate that the global travel sector could contract by up to 25% this year.

This is the equivalent to a loss of three months of global travel and could lead to a corresponding reduction in jobs of between 12%-14%.


Cruise lines respond to Foreign Office cruise ship advice

Cruise lines have responded to new Foreign Office guidance which advises those aged over 70 and those with underlying health conditions not to go on cruises.


Disney shuts parks

Walt Disney’s theme parks in California and Florida are being shut for the rest of the month due to the coronavirus outbreak.


WTM Africa postponed

World Travel Market Africa has been postponed until 2021 due to coronavirus.

In a statement, Carol Weaving, managing director of events company Reed Exhibitions Africa said: “We have had to respond to the current coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and the ongoing conversations with our customers whose welfare is our number one priority.

“Due to the uncertainty in the region and around the world, with many of our clients facing company travel bans, we have taken the decision to postpone the event to 2021, which was due to take place from 02 – 08 April 2020. Our thoughts are with all those affected in these difficult times.”

Megan Oberholzer, portfolio director for Africa Travel Week, added: “We would like to thank the industry for their support in these unprecedented times. All buyers and exhibitors and industry partners will be contacted in the coming days.”


Tui invokes ‘force majeure’ clauses

Tui is reportedly freezing pre-payments and suspending contracts with some hotels amid a downturn in global travel caused by coronavirus.

Hoteliers in Spain and Greece said that Tui was in talks with a number of operators to invoke “force majeure” clauses in contracts and temporarily stop payments, according to the Financial Times.


More Cruise lines cancel sailings

A raft of cruise lines have cancelled sailings amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Saga Cruises, Uniworld, Disney Cruise Line, Windstar Cruises, AmaWaterways, Avalon Waterways and Celestyal Cruises have all temporarily suspended operations due to the pandemic.

They join Virgin Voyages, Princess Cruises and Viking
Cruises
which have also ceased operations for the time being.


Intrepid Travel’s cancellation options

Intrepid Travel is allowing cancellations up to 21 days before departing with the option of either a 150% credit towards a future trip or a 75% refund.


Thursday March 12

Government advises over-70s not to go on cruises

Britons who are aged over 70 or those with underlying health conditions have been advised not to go on cruises by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The UK government has also banned overseas school trips from Friday.

But chief scientific advisor Patrick Vallance appeared to suggest flights would not be grounded.


Exsus Travel waives amendment fees

Exsus Travel will waive amendment and cancellation charges for any new bookings made until April 30 for travel up until February 28, 2021 Third-party supplier charges remain in place.


MSC Cruises launches Flexible Cruise Programme

MSC Cruises is allowing passengers who have paid their full balance due to sail before June 30, 2020, to switch to any voyage departing before December 31, 2021. Changes can be made up to 48 hours before the original departure, or 96 hours for fly-cruise bookings.


Wedding specialist launches #KeepCalmAndMarryOn campaign

Perfect Weddings Abroad has launched a campaign in response to the coronavirus outbreak, urging its customers to #KeepCalmAndMarryOn.

Among its offers, the wedding specialist is discounting its Celebration Packages by 10%, with a 20% reduction applied to bookings in Turkey.

The operator is also offering free ammendments “should you need to move your wedding date due to coronavirus”

In a blog post, Perfect Weddings Abroad said: “We understand that many people are concerned about Coronavirus and the impact it has on couple’s wedding plans. However please be rest assured that we are constantly monitoring the situation and here to help you at all times.

“It’s more crucial than ever to book with a reputatable company that provides ABTA & ATOL protection. This gives you total peace of mind and means that you are 100% financially protected so if the Foreign & Commonwealth Office advise against travel to a destination, you are entitled to a full refund.”


FCO removes advice against travel to the Maldives

The Foreign Office removed its advice against all but essential travel to four resorts in the Maldives on Thursday evening.

On Monday night, the FCO ruled Kuredu, Vilemendhu, Batalaa and Kuramathi Island Resorts out of bounds in response to confirmed cases of coronavirus.


Hays Travel staff offered unpaid leave

Hays Travel has offered its staff voluntary unpaid leave to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus.

The UK’s largest travel agency chain said it was looking to cut “non-essential expenditure” and had asked staff across the company if they wished to take voluntary leave or reduce their hours.

Hays recruited 2,300 former Thomas Cook shop staff after taking on the leases to occupy all 553 of its shops following the travel giant’s collapse in September last year. It also recruited 200 additional staff for its head office in Sunderland.

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