Wednesday March 11
WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “deeply concerned” by “alarming levels of inaction” over the virus.
But he said the WHO would not be changing its advice about what action countries should take.
Low-cost airline easyJet announced it will cancel all flights to and from Italy, up to April 3.
It will put on rescue flights over the coming days to repatriate passengers.
The airline said: “Italian authorities have stated that they will allow travel to, from and within Italy only if it is demonstrably essential, for work, health or repatriation. So, if you believe your travel will qualify as essential with the authorities, you can book yourself onto a rescue flight.
“We’ll be accepting bookings on a first-come, first-served basis so if you do wish to fly, please book yourself on as soon as you can.”
The boss of The Travel Network Group called on the travel industry to be honest with clients as the global coronavirus pandemic puts people off travelling overseas.
Gary Lewis, chief executive of the Worldchoice and TTA agency travel agency consortia, told a Travel Weekly Business Breakfast, that the industry is in crisis.
Advantage Travel Partnership is advising members on contingency plans to help their businesses survive during the coronavirus crisis.
Leisure director Kelly Cookes said the travel agency consortium was looking at proactive ways agents could protect their businesses, from negotiating rent breaks with shop landlords to delaying marketing campaigns.
The Hotel Chain Association said: “Any hotels with less than 30% occupation will remain closed and guests who have booked at the low-occupancy hotels will be moved to other places which are remaining open.”
Abercrombie & Kent is allowing “more flexible booking terms” for many new and existing clients who may be “cautious” about planning a holiday.
A statement from the operator said: “Despite extensive news coverage around travel disruptions, the vast majority of our clients are continuing to travel as planned.”
For new tailor-made and luxury expedition cruising bookings made between now and the end of March 2020, clients may postpone or transfer their bookings to the same or a new destination up until 60 days prior to departure, to an alternate date that departs before December 31, 2021. No cancellation fees will be charged.
Similarly, for existing bookings, guests can postpone and rebook to the same or new destination for travel up to December 31, 2021.
For A&K Villas bookings across Europe, it will work with individual villa owners on a case-by-case basis.
As the escorted touring programme offers set departures, standard booking conditions apply.
Click here for details from A&K.
Hays Travel has cancelled its homeworker conference in Tenerife.
The event was due to take place on March 24-28 at the Hard Rock Hotel.
A spokeswoman for the group said: “After careful consideration and consultation with our homeworkers and personal travel consultants, we have come to the decision to cancel our annual homeworking conference which was due to take place later this month.”
Abta LifeLine has received enquiries for help from travel industry staff concerned about having to reduce working hours amid the continuing coronavirus outbreak.
Trudie Clements, the charity’s director, said agents had got in touch on Tuesday asking what services and support were available to them in the likely event their hours were cut.
A British female passenger on a river sailing with Viking in Cambodia has tested positive for coronavirus.
The positive test result prompted the country’s health authorities to test all 62 passengers and crew on board the Viking Mekong ship.
The 65-year-old British woman has been transported to the Kampong Cham Hospital after she became infected with the virus.
It is understood other UK passengers have been tested for coronavirus with the results coming back negative.
Jet2holidays allows agent booking amendments
Jet2holidays is allowing agents to amend bookings up to 48 hours before their customers depart free of charge, provided the replacement holiday costs at least £1 more than the original booking.
A ‘reassurance cancellation and transfer policy’ has been introduced by P&O Cruises and Cunard due to coronavirus.
The new interim policy applies to all passengers with bookings departing up until August 31.
It enables cruises to be cancelled up to 48 hours before departure.
Travel agency commission will be protected on cancellation fees and the future cruise credits as part of the update will be fully commissionable.
Cancelled bookings will receive a future cruise credit equivalent to the cancellation fees and refunds will be given on any remaining money paid.
Shearings rolls out ‘Flexi Holidays’
Shearings Holidays has brought out a collection of flexible holidays to help agents booking breaks with the operator.
The UK Flexi Holidays offer the option to amend the departure date on any new domestic booking free of charge up to four weeks prior to departure.
The option is valid on holidays based at any of its 43 Bay, Coast & Country or Country Living Hotels across the UK. Shearings Holidays is also offering a guaranteed 10% off all UK holidays departing in April and May.
Jane Atkins, managing director, said: “We want to ensure we are providing agents with all the necessary support they need in these constantly changing circumstances. We know that agents need to offer flexibility right now and we hope our UK Flexi Holidays will provide reassurance to any customers who may have concerns about travelling or booking at the moment.”
Kuredu, Vilemendhu, Batalaa and Kuramathi Island Resorts ruled out of bounds following a coronavirus outbreak.
Government repatriation flight expected back in the UK on Wednesday.
The vessel had been held off the California coast for almost a week after 19 crew members and two passengers caught the virus.
Hong Kong-based carrier reports a 28% drop in 2019 profits in the face of the city’s political protests, mounting US-China trade tensions and coronavirus.
Firm will no longer cover for disruption on new policies.
A spokesperson told the BBC: “We have decided to adjust our cover to reflect the current risks posed by coronavirus.”
Event was due to be held on April 221-23, will now take place in early autumn in Cancun to allow the sector “time to recover from the current Covid-19 outbreak and its impact”
Travel leaders foresee the most-serious challenge in the sector’s history as the coronavirus epidemic worsens.
Tom Jenkins, chief executive of European tourism association Etoa, reported a “tourism meltdown throughout Europe”, while a senior leisure industry figure said: “Holiday bookings have fallen through the floor.”
Brussels has bowed to UK pressure by suspending use-it-or-lose-it rules on airport landing slots.
The follows Virgin Atlantic warning that it was being forced to fly aircraft “almost empty” to ensure it retains key take off and landing slots.
Tuesday March 10
Training firm to offer free advice
Sales coaching firm Reality Training is offering travel agents free sessions to help them deal with enquiries surrounding the coronavirus.
Managers and executives can take part in the 30-minute online sessions with trained coaching practitioners Bob Morrell, Jeremy Blake and Ann Harris.
The sessions will run on Friday afternoons for ‘the next few weeks or until the virus threat subsides’, the company said.
Morrell added: “We offered free coaching to Thomas Cook people last year, and it seems appropriate to offer this service again to anyone who is struggling to manage their travel businesses at this time.
“Coaching offers practical and personal support and many people will be dealing with unique situations for the first time. Friday afternoon is the perfect time to check in with an outside coach and overcome the challenges that this virus is presenting.”
Email email@example.com to register.
Delta reduces capacity
Delta has become the latest airline to cut capacity and announce cost-saving measures.
The American carrier will reduce international capacity by 20-25% and domestic routes by 10-15%.
Staff are being offered voluntary leave while a company-wide hiring freeze has been announced.
Delta is also evaluating the early retirements of older aircraft.
If Only and Prestige relax cancellation policies
If Only is waiving amendment and cancellation fees on all new bookings made from March 10-31.
Gordon McCreadie, If Only product and distribution director, said the measure was made “so our agent partners can book their customers’ holidays with confidence knowing they have the flexibility to cancel if the situation or their customers’ circumstances change”.
Prestige Holidays is relaxing its booking policy to enable clients to alter dates and destinations for many holidays up to one month before departure, without penalty.
Valid for departures up to October 31, 2020, the policy applies to all new bookings made from now until March 16 for travel to many of the operator’s destinations if flying with British Airways – including Madeira, Malta, Croatia, Algarve and Bermuda.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd has warned it will be cutting costs and taking “other actions” to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus.
The cruise giant, which owns Celebrity Cruises, Azamara and Silversea, has also withdrawn its first quarter and full-year 2020 guidance.
Royal said it would be reducing “capital expenditures and operating expenses” this year and next.
Airlines axe Italy flights after travel ban
Ryanair, Jet2.com and British Airways have cancelled services to Italy, after the Italian government announced a lockdown across the entire country.
Ryanair will suspend all its flights to, from and within Italy, until midnight on Wednesday April 8.
Domestic flights will be suspended from midnight on Wednesday (March 11) then international flights from midnight on Friday (March 13).
Affected passengers have been emailed today and passengers needing repatriation can move for free to an earlier Ryanair flight, until midnight on March 13.
Affected passengers can have a full refund or a travel credit that can be redeemed on Ryanair flights in the next 12 months.
Jet2.com has cancelled all flights from this afternoon (March 10) to the end of April 26.
The cancellations affect services to Rome, Naples, Pisa, Turin, Venice and Verona.
The airline said it is contacting customers due to travel to Italy to tell them their options.
“We are also contacting customers who are currently in Italy to arrange to fly them back to the UK,” it added.
British Airways has cancelled all flights to Italy from Heathrow and Gatwick.
Its website said: “If you’re booked to travel between London and any Italian destination up to April 4 2020, you have the option to refund your ticket or rebook onto another flight for later travel.”
easyJet said it has cancelled “some flights” between March 13 and March 31.
“Customers on cancelled flights have been contacted and moved onto alternative flights or offered a full refund,” the carrier said.
“If you’re not contacted then you should anticipate that your flight will operate as normal and standard terms and conditions continue to apply to all flights.”
MSC Cruises cancels sailing
MSC Cruises has cancelled MSC Opera’s 11-day roundtrip sailing due to depart from Genoa, Italy, on Tuesday.
The ship arrived in Genoa this morning after completing an 11-day Mediterranean cruise.
It follows FCO advice which warns against all but essential travel to the whole of Italy as the country was placed in total lockdown.
Norwegian Air is to pull 15% of its capacity until the end of June and temporarily lay off staff.
The cut in capacity represents around 3,000 flights.
The carrier said it had seen “reduced demand” on future bookings.
More details on which routes will be affected are yet to be announced.
Premier and Balkan launch flexible booking policies
Premier Holidays has launched a flexible booking policy, valid for any qualifying new holiday booking made until March 31.
Customers can make the decision to delay their holidays until 11 weeks before their original departure date and rebook their trip for a date within 11 months.
Balkan Holidays is allowing balances on new and existing summer 2020 package holidays to Bulgaria to be paid four weeks prior to departure – it was 10 weeks previously.
For new summer 2020 package holiday bookings to Bulgaria made to the end of March, clients can change their holiday to another date in the summer 2020 or summer 2021 seasons with no administration charge, up to 14 days before departure.
For existing package holiday bookings to Bulgaria travelling up to and including June 30 2020, clients can change their booking to another date in the summer 2020 or summer 2021 seasons with no administration charge, up to 14 days before departure.
Should the price of the new holiday be higher than the original booking, the client will have to pay the difference.
Marella Cruises cancels Asia sailings
Marella Cruises has cancelled all eight cruises in Asia and stopped Marella Discovery’s current sailing.
The line said it was “working hard” to find passengers flights to the UK from Marella Discovery, which is currently docked in Singapore during its 14-day roundtrip sailing from Pulau Langkawi Island, Malaysia.
Marella Discovery is now scheduled to operate again next month.
The line also added that other cruises continue to operate as normal.
Wizz Air suspends flights to Israel
Wizz Air has suspended flights to Tel Aviv and Eilat after the Israeli authorities announced a 14-day quarantine period for all passengers arriving in Israel.
The flights will be suspended from Luton to Tel Aviv until March 23.
Silversea to protect agent commission
Silversea is protecting agent commission on all cancelled bookings due to depart before July 31, 2020, once paid in full by the passenger.
The cancellation must be made up to 48 hours before sailing.
In a statement, Silversea said: “This new policy is designed to provide Silversea’s valued travel partners with added assurance during this uncertain time.”
Ministers are being urged to consider “extraordinary support measures” for the UK travel and tourism sector due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
Abta has written to prime minister Boris Johnson ahead of Wednesday’s Budget calling for action to protect healthy businesses that may suffer financial distress.
Measures suggested could include bridging loans, a relief to business rates, VAT and PAYE deadline extensions and reliefs and a six month ‘holiday’ from Air Passenger Duty.
The coronavirus outbreak could threaten the airline’s survival after more than half of the world restricted passengers entering from South Korea.
President Woo Kee-hong reportedly said more than 80% of its international capacity had been cut as a result of global travel restrictions.
Woo said Korean Air had grounded about 100 of 145 its passenger aircraft.
The airline is operating flights to try to retain take-off and landing slots at major airports such as Heathrow.
Take off and landing slots have to be forfeited if flights are not operated under European law.
Sector admits being “surprised” by a US advisory discouraging Americans from taking cruise holidays due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Clia will today respond by presenting the US administration with an industry plan to manage any serious coronavirus outbreak on an ocean-going cruise ship on a stand-alone basis.
The virus had a “clear impact” on the number of new vacancies and candidates in February.
Totals in February suffered double digit falls from the previous month and against the same month last year, according to jobs specialist C&M Travel Recruitment and C&M Executive Recruitment.
Reductions follow services being trimmed to Asia and come as a result of a “sudden and significant” drop in forward travel demand.
The biggest reductions remain focused on Asia down 31%; the US down 19%; the UK down 17% and trans-Tasman to New Zealand down 10% “in line with forward booking trends”.
Qantas is grounding eight Airbus A380 superjumbos in addition to two undergoing scheduled maintenance, leaving just two flying.
Britons have been warned against all but essential travel to the whole of Italy as the country was placed in total lockdown in the fight against coronavirus.
Passengers arriving on flights will have to justify themselves, while controls at train stations to check the temperatures of passengers have been introduced.
Monday March 9
Ryanair is further reducing the number of flights it operates to Italy and suspending all domestic routes in the country.
The airline said it was responding to the ‘lockdown’ announced by the Italian government at the weekend, affecting travel to and from parts of northern Italy, and to restrictions by other EU countries such as Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta and Romania, on the number of flights to and from the region.
Ryanair is suspending all Italian domestic flights to and from Bergamo, Malpensa, Parma and Treviso from March 10 until April 8.
From March 12 until April 8, the airline also plans a severely reduced schedule of international flights to and from Bergamo, Malpensa, Venice, Parma, Rimini and Treviso, which will only operate on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays.
‘Tenerife government has protocol for any future outbreaks’
Pedro Martin, president of Tenerife, confirmed the government had now established a protocol for any future outbreaks that would involve quarantining only those guests who had come into contact with people diagnosed with the virus.
Speaking at IMM, he said the 46 British tourists remaining in quarantine at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace were due to fly back to the UK on Tuesday. They were among 1,000 guests, of whom 260 were British, kept in isolation at the Tenerife hotel since February 24, when six Italian guests were diagnosed with coronavirus.
Martin added: “We decided to take this dramatic decision [to quarantine the hotel] because we needed to keep the trust that British tourists have in Tenerife as a holiday destination. That is why we decided to isolate the whole hotel at the beginning.
“But now we have learned from this situation and probably if we end up in a similar situation, we would isolate just the people affected and the people who have been in contact with them, not the whole hotel. It was the first time it had happened in the world, so we needed to take the proper decisions.”
Martin confirmed other hotels in Spain and around the world had requested details of this revised quarantine protocol. A team of 10 doctors along with nurses, psychologists and translators were deployed to the hotel during the 14-day quarantine period.
He added: “The main message is that of course, home is the safest place on earth, but we can’t be isolated at home forever, so that’s why it’s important to choose a holiday destination that you can trust.”
Gold Medal and Travel 2 are waiving change and cancellation fees for agents on bookings made this month.
The new policies take immediate effect and are available on all new package bookings.
Customers can amend a trip at any time and pay the fare difference with the airline or hotel if applicable.
Cancellation fees are also being removed for customers wanting to cancel a holiday in the “constantly changing current climate”, the operators said.
Vietnam suspends visa waivers for UK travellers
The Vietnam government has suspended visa waivers for the UK and seven other European countries.
Premier Nguyen Xuan Phuc made the announcement amid continuing concerns about coronavirus.
The decision affects travellers from Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Germany, France and Spain.
The government has also proposed the same measure to countries that have reported more than 500 infection cases or more than 50 cases in a day.
Holland America Line waives fees and offers cruise credit
Guests currently booked on cruises departing up to May 31, 2020 can cancel and will receive a future cruise credit for the amount of the paid fare which can be used for another cruise in 2020 or 2021.
Guests who keep their cruise plans on departures until May 31, 2020, will receive onboard spending credit of $200 per stateroom/$100 per person for voyages longer than seven days; and US$100 per stateroom/US$50 per person for voyages less than six days.
Guests who make a new booking by April 30, 2020, for itineraries that depart on or before October 15, 2020, can cancel for any reason and receive a future cruise credit in the amount of any cancellation fees applied. The cancellation must be made up to 30 days before departure.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has become the latest cruise company to relax its cancellation policy amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
Guests can cancel their cruise up to 48 hours before embarkation. The new policy applies to sailings on Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises and is valid for both new and existing bookings for sailings up to September 30, 2020.
The Travel Network Group is asking all suppliers to reduce the balance payment deadlines to one to two weeks before travel.
The consortium said it was in “everyone’s interest” to be flexible to avoid mass cancellations.
Normally the consortium is expected to pay balances to suppliers between eight-12 weeks before departure.
Podcast: Your coronavirus questions answered
Etihad Airways is offering a free flight date change as part of an updated policy during the coronavirus outbreak.
The UAE carrier will allow changes to cancelled flights or when passengers have booked but are then not permitted or advised against travelling.
The new waiver arrangement covers departures until June 30 with free date changes permitted to flights up until July 15.
New waiver policy covers tickets issued until March 31, passengers to change their travel dates without change and reissuance fees.
Customers can change their booking to any date for travel within an 11-month date range in the same booking class without change penalties.
The Foreign Office has hardened travel advice to parts of Italy after 16 million people were quarantined in the country. The FCO advises against all but essential travel to a range of areas in northern Italy, including Milan and Venice.
Those travelling from locked-down areas have also been advised to self-isolate if they returned to the UK in the last 14 days – even if they have shown no symptoms.
The UK travel trade is being urged to support a new #KeepCalmTravelOn consumer social media initiative.
The campaign has been launched by Advantage Travel Partnership, alongside rival consortium Global Travel Group and the Travel Gossip online industry forum.
Americans with underlying health conditions have been warned by the State Department to avoid taking cruises amid efforts to contain coronavirus.
The comes after 21 crew and passengers on board Grand Princess off the coast of California were confirmed as having tested positive for the virus.
Saturday March 7
UN agency for tourism now expects the impact of coronavirus to lead to a 3% negative growth in international tourist arrivals in 2020, down from a negative 1%.
Before the coronavirus outbreak, a positive growth of 3-4% in international arrivals was estimated.
Clia has hit back at reports that the US government is considering discouraging some people from boarding ships to restrict the spread of coronavirus.
The cruise trade body described any action to restrict cruising as “unwarranted” and at odds with the World Health Organisation which “continues to advise against the application of travel or trade restrictions to countries experiencing Covid-19 outbreaks”.
It came in response to US vice president Mike Pence warned that elderly people should use “common sense and caution” when planning a trip on a cruise ship.
“Cruise ships represent a unique challenge for health officials,” he said in a White House press conference.
MSC Cruises agreed for its ship MSC Opera not to enter the port of Valletta in Malta on Friday to “avoid unnecessary public unrest”.
The island’s government said the decision followed “public alarm raised by misleading information” and blamed an unnamed local media outlet.
Twenty one people have been confirmed as testing positive for coronavirus on board Grand Princess off the California coast.
They include two passengers and 19 members of the ship’s crew.
More than 140 Britons are reported to be among the 2,422 passengers and 1,111 crew on the ship.
Friday March 6
The Lufthansa Group of airlines has announced plans to cut capacity by up to half due to a “drastic decline” in bookings and “numerous cancellations” caused by the Covid-19 coronavirus.
German carrier Lufthansa is even considering grounding its entire fleet of Airbus A380 aircraft at Frankfurt and Munich airports.
Searches for summer sun destinations have begun to recover after taking a hit of 20% a week ago, according to holiday comparison site Icelolly.com.
Tenerife and Italy, where coronavirus cases have been confirmed, slipped in the rankings, but searches for Malta, Iceland and Czechia are up.
Royal Caribbean and Kuoni have become the latest travel companies to offer flexible cancellation terms in light of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
Royal Caribbean Cruises is allowing customers to cancel up to 48 hours before departure for sailings on all of its brands: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara and Silversea.
Kuoni has launched a ‘Kuoni Flex‘ campaign which allows customers to change their holiday dates up until seven days before departure.
‘What we are seeing is sensationally damaging’
Etoa says the European tourism inbound industry is estimating a 50% reduction of business in 2020 and has called on governments to act to halt the economic impact of coronavirus.
Chief executive Tom Jenkins said: “The situation is changing extremely fast. With Covid-19 continuing to spread, governments are running roughshod over economic considerations. Government actions to push back the epidemic need to be balanced with people’s livelihoods.
“The economic impact is spreading faster than the virus that triggered it. The consequences are evident. Throughout Europe we are seeing signs of tourism meltdown.
“Companies are now routinely banning all non-essential travel. Conferences, meetings and all forms of collective corporate activity are being suspended. We will soon have a full-blown crisis in the hospitality sector. Last week I was insisting that we need to be stridently optimistic. One week later I am seeing operators (who had been struggling to find staff) engaging in compulsory redundancies.
“When we have had terrorist scares there was an underlying moral obligation to ignore what people knew to be a minor threat: doing anything else would allow the terrorists to win. The moral action at the moment appears to be to sit at home and be fearful. In due course this is an action which will be revealed as neither moral nor practical.
“All the attention of government – and consequently the press – is on the threat posed by the virus. Somehow the narrative must be changed from “health” to the impact on the economy of what is happening. This impact needs to be curtailed as urgently as the virus. It is not enough to say “better safe than sorry”; what we are seeing is sensationally damaging.
“It is impossible to gauge the overall economic impact at the moment as we are still gathering evidence, but the European tourism inbound industry is contemplating a reduction of business of at least 50% in 2020.”
Qatar Airways waives change fees
Qatar Airways is allowing passengers who have flights booked up until June 30 to change dates of travel free of charge or receive a travel voucher valid for one year.
British hotel guest at Tenerife hotel recovers
A total of 443 people have now left the Tenerife hotel which was under quarantine after a guests tested tested positive for coronavirus.
The tourist board also confirmed the British woman who tested positive after staying at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace has now recovered and has been discharged from hospital.
Lufthansa Group is cutting capacity by up to a quarter with more than 7,000 flights cancelled until the end of March.
The cuts are being made due to the “exceptional circumstances caused by the spread of coronavirus and the decline in demand”.
The route cancellations and frequency adjustments amount to the equivalent capacity of 150 aircraft, of which 125 are short- and medium-haul and are 25 long-haul.
The Lufthansa Group fleet currently comprises around 770 aircraft, including some 180 long-haul aircraft.
The coronavirus outbreak has forced the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA) to postpone its annual global convention, which was due to be held in Milan on May 6-9.
Italy is the worst-hit country in Europe and the Italian government has taken measures to isolate 10 towns in the north.
It has also ordered school and university closures throughout Italy and all sporting fixtures will be played behind closed doors.
The US-based travel association said it is “determined” to host its annual conference in the northern Italian city but will now hold the event in September or October.
A statement from IGLTA said: “We must be prudent and sensitive to health and safety precautions and to the actual conditions on the ground.
Railbookers and Amtrak Vacations waive fees
Railbookers and Amtrak Vacations are waiving fees for cancellations and changes to bookings from travel agents in response to the coronavirus.
On new reservations up to April 30, and existing reservations, dates can be changed or rail holidays cancelled up to five days before departure without any charges. Customers will be issued a voucher for future travel valid for 24 months.
The global airline industry faces a potential financial hit from coronavirus of as much as $133 billion.
The worst case forecast came from Iata on the day that Flybe failed.
The airline industry body yesterday calculated that airlines could lose $63 billion to $113 billion in passenger revenue against a previous estimate last month of $29.3 billion of coronavirus had been contained in China.
Caribbean tourism and health specialists are preparing “readiness and response” measures to prevent and contain the spread of coronavirus.
The Caribbean Public Health Agency has upgraded the risk of coronavirus disease transmission from “low” to “moderate to high” due to an increased risk of importation of Covid-19 to the region.
A task force of tourism chiefs and hotel organisations has been set up although there has been no local spread of the virus in the Caribbean.
Almost half of consumers would book a holiday if a good deal was available despite concerns over coronavirus, a new poll by travel marketing and PR firm Finn Partners suggests.
Only 13% of the 1,000 people polled would not book a holiday in the next six months.
ANA reduces domestic flights
All Nippon Airways (ANA) is to reduce the frequency of some domestic flights.
The Japanese carrier said 180 domestic flights from March 9-12 will be affected.
Passengers on a Princess Cruises ship off the coast of California have been confined to their cabins following the death of a guest from coronavirus after a previous cruise.
About 140 Britons were reportedly on the ship but the line stressed that there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus on board.
Princess Cruises, meanwhile, is changing its cancellation policy on a temporary basis for departures up to May 31 “to assist passengers making decisions regarding their cruise holidays during the evolving worldwide coronavirus situation”.
Thursday March 5
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) now expects 2020 global revenue losses for airlines’ passenger business of between $63 billion (in a scenario where COVID-19 is contained in current markets with over 100 cases as of 2 March) and $113 billion (in a scenario with a broader spreading of COVID-19).
The Singapore Tourism Board has urged the UK trade to “keep calm and carry on” selling the destination.
The outbreak is estimated to trigger a decline of 25-30% of visitors to the island city-state globally over the course of 2020.
The warning came as the luxury hotel group reported a slump in 2019 underlying profits to $41 million from $65 million the previous year.
Silversea ‘relaxes’ cancellation policies
Silversea Cruises has ‘relaxed’ its cancellation policies for new bookings to “ease the minds of our guests and trade partners” as the fallout of the coronavirus outbreak continues.
Bookings on sailings departing between June 1 and December 31 will be able to cancel until 30 days prior to departure, paying “only a customary administrative fee on the cruise fare”. Silversea said it will also negotiate cancellation options on other components of the booking such as air travel, hotels and shore excursions on behalf of guests.
“Travelling the world with Silversea should never be a source of anxiety,” said chief executive Roberto Martinoli. “As the situation evolves, we are pleased to provide our guests with more time to decide whether or not to travel.”
Apex was due to be named in Southampton on March 30 – the event would have been the first times Celebrity Cruises named a ship in the UK for ten years.
The Edge-series ship’s naming ceremony will be rescheduled to take place later this year in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, from where it will sail to the Caribbean this winter.
The line’s two two-night inaugural sailing events, which around 1,000 UK and Irish agents have been invited to, are expected to go ahead as planned on March 28 and March 30.
Jo Vaughton, Celebrity’s director of brand marketing for the UK and Ireland, said it would be insensitive to the wider industry for Celebrity to host the event when companies are dealing with the fallout of the coronavirus outbreak.
ITB Berlin has launched a virtual online version after coronavirus forced its cancellation.
More than 130,000 delegates had been due to travel to Berlin for the event but it was called off on February 28 as the infection was spreading. It was originally scheduled for March 4-8.
Now ITB has launched the ITB Virtual Convention on its ITB.com website, running from today (March 5) to March 11, with more than 20 live streams and videos on demand.
Canary Islands ‘continuing as normal’ after hotel outbreak
The Canary Islands’ tourist board says tourism is “continuing as normal” after seven people were confirmed to have the coronavirus in Tenerife – all of whom are isolated in hospital “in good health”.
The last confirmed case in the region was a British woman who had stayed at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace on Monday, March 2.
A statement from the tourist board said: “The vast majority of visitors continue to enjoy their holidays without any restrictions from the coronavirus”.
It said 238 people had left the hotel as of Wednesday afternoon, and guests could leave if they meet three conditions: being asymptomatic; testing negative for the coronavirus 24 hours before leaving; and that their country of origin guarantees ‘good follow-up care on arrival’.
“The Tourist Board of the Canary Islands will continue to actively promote the islands as a great, safe and secure tourist destination,” it said, adding: “Permanent contact will be maintained with tour operators and relevant companies”.
Air Transat latest airline to waive change fees
Air Transat is the latest airline to waive fees for customers and travel agents to change travel dates.
The Canadian carrier’s offer applies to bookings made between March 4 and March 31 for travel up to October 31.
It flies from Gatwick, Manchester and Glasgow to Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary.
Changes can be made up to 24 hours before departure, and travel must be completed within 12 months of the original travel date.
Cancellation requests are subject to existing terms and conditions.
Air Transat said it wanted to offer travellers “more flexibility” to book trips “with peace of mind” in the context of the coronavirus outbreak.
A total of 22 flights have been cancelled between Europe and the US between March 28 and May 5 in the face of a slump in demand.
The bulk of the cuts are on routes from Rome to Boston, New York and Los Angeles.
However, Gatwick to New York frequency is being reduced from three to two daily departures on some days.
Simon Bunce said the association was employing a “calm and correct” approach on the coronavirus situation.
The Abta legal chief took part in a Travel Weekly Facebook Live broadcast followed calls from some agents and operators for a campaign to promote a positive message about travel amid high-profile, negative publicity in the media.
Bookings at Saga Group’s tour operations are 20% down due to the impact of coronavirus, the over-50s travel and services specialist revealed today.
The company also reported a “higher level” of cancellations for cruises due to the virus outbreak.
Wednesday March 4
Video: Coronavirus Q&A Facebook Live with Abta, Travlaw and Kuoni
Virgin Atlantic is taking action to meet the financial impact of the coronavirus by cutting executive pay, postponing annual wage rises, freezing recruitment and restricting staff travel.
The measures announced by Virgin Atlantic include postponing the launch of a new Heathrow service to Sao Paulo due to commence on March 29
This will now be deferred to the winter, with services beginning on October 5.
Flybe has declined to comment on reports that it is on the brink of collapse due to the coronavirus outbreak, saying they are ‘speculation’.
Sky News said this afternoon that the regional airline “could collapse in days amid an outbreak-related slump in bookings”.
Budget accommodation firm Hostelworld has warned of a quarterly profits hit of up to €4 million due to the spread of coronavirus.
The OTA suffered a slump in bookings since late January due to the impact the virus has had on global travel demand.
Lime follows BA’s lead on change fee waiver
Flight consolidator Lime has matched British Airways’ offer to waive the change fee on bookings made between March 3 and March 16.
The airline introduced the policy as fears continue over the spread of the coronavirus in Europe.
Lime’s offer applies to British Airways inclusive tour, seat-only, published and cruise fare types up until the day of departure. Differences in fare still apply, and refund fees are not being waived.
Head of commercial Matt Darlington said: “We want to support our customers during this period of uncertainty and assist in any way we can to maintain confidence when booking travel with us.”
But Rory Boland, travel editor at consumer champion Which?, said airlines should go further by waiving the fees for existing bookings “who could not have known this outbreak would have an impact on their holidays”.
“This lack of flexibility is inevitably going to lead to more cancellations from passengers too worried to travel,” he added.
Three out of four UK travellers still plan to taking their next holiday despite the coronavirus outbreak, new reserch reveals.
Most people who have cancelled have been forced to do so and older travellers are most likely to be sticking to their plans, the Holiday Extras poll of 1,000 people this month found.
The firm has been monitoring calls to its UK call centre for the last week to see what concerns customers had about travelling during the outbreak.
These questions were then the basis of a survey to travellers at airports to better understand how the virus was affecting travel plans for customers and the wider industry.
SAS is the latest carrier to make additional capacity cuts in the face of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Scandinavian carrier is suspending flights to Hong Kong from tomorrow (Thursday) and trimming its European short-haul network.
The reductions follow the airline stopping all flights between Denmark and the Italian cities of Milan, Bologna, Turin and Venice from March 4-16.
Flight date change fees are being waived by Virgin Atlantic for tickets issued this month in response to challenges caused by coronavirus.
The relaxation of commercial policy is available to passengers that have a ticket purchased between March 4 and March 31 for travel until September 30.
Tickets can be reissued up until the day before departure.
The Italian National Tourist Board has proclaimed that the country is safe to travel to despite having the most deaths from coronavirus in the world outside China.
The virus has killed at least 79 people in Italy, mainly elderly and with underlying serious illnesses.
The Foreign Office continues to advise against all but essential travel to ten small towns in Lombardy and one in Veneto in the north of the country which have been isolated by Italian authorities.
The next six weeks could make or break the industry’s performance this summer as the spread of the coronavirus in Europe has seen demand take a “significant” hit.
Operators and agencies this week reported an abrupt slowdown in bookings and said customers were choosing to delay holidays.
Miles Morgan Travel chairman Miles Morgan said forward bookings were “noticeably down” and added: “The impact on cashflow will start to hit businesses in the next six weeks, with summer balances coming in 12 weeks before departure. That’s when people will make a decision on whether to walk away from their deposit so the situation will crystallise.”
Leading airline bosses confirmed a downturn in leisure demand since the coronavirus outbreak in Italy last week but insisted they expect it to be “temporary”.
Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said: “There is a reduction in leisure demand, but it is short term.
“We see no diminution in demand or cancellations for Easter at this point. May could be soft, but I expect the panic to reduce after that and demand return – stimulated by a lot of deals.”
The trade is calling for a unified response to the coronavirus outbreak to reassure clients it remains safe to travel to most destinations.
Operators and agents said it was important to give a positive message to consumers and play on the industry’s expertise.
Alistair Rowland, chief retail officer for specialist business at The Midcounties Co-operative and Abta chairman, said: “We will look to Abta to communicate a positive message about it being ‘safe to travel if precautions are taken’.”
The latest person diagnosed with coronavirus while staying at a hotel in Tenerife has been confirmed as a British woman.
Health officials are reported to have confirmed that she arrived at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace on February 23 and was not part of an initial group of Italian tourists who first contracted the virus.
The UK holidaymaker was not isolated inside the hotel because she did not show symptoms, and the positive test came as a result of regular checks, according to Sky News.
‘Travel is safe’
G Adventures’ founder Bruce Poon Tip issues message of reassurance and be “shining light on inclusivity:
“The current situation needs to be taken seriously, during our 30 years in the tourism business we have dealt with similar situations such as SARS, Zika and Ebola, and in our experience the panic around these issues usually subsides once the initial fear dissipates. We hope this to be the case this time, too.
“We still firmly believe travel is incredibly safe. As pioneers of community tourism, we believe travel can be the greatest form of wealth distribution the world has seen, and as much as we have a commitment to our travellers, we also have a commitment to the local communities that tourism benefits.
“This situation has the potential to be damaging for those communities. We hope that our travellers will keep travelling, even if that means changing their destination, or postponing plans.
“I’d also like to take this opportunity to urge our travellers to rise up and be the shining light on inclusivity in terms of the racism, xenophobia and division being reflected in reactions to and coverage of coronavirus. As an Asian myself, I feel this. Recent reports of racism towards Asians as a result of this pandemic are extremely unfortunate. Ignorance is counterproductive to public health and wellness.
“It’s important that we remember we are stronger together. We are living in dangerous times, where people are divided and looking for division. We must come together as a global community. Coronavirus is an issue for humanity — not for individual races or people.”
Tuesday March 3
Travel Republic is to reopen its office in Kingston having undergone two deep cleans after a member of staff tested positive for coronavirus.
The OTA evacuated its office earlier on Tuesday after the member of staff was confirmed to have the virus on Monday.
A spokesman said: “Following liaison with Public Health England, Travel Republic will be reopening its Norbiton offices on 4th March 2020.
“Two full deep clean cycles of the building have been completed during today. Staff have been provided with guidance concerning continued monitoring of their personal health, and measures have been imposed across our whole organisation to ensure hygiene best practice is followed.
“We are fortunate that our business continuity plan enabled Travel Republic to operate as normal during this period, but we are looking forward to welcoming everyone back to the office tomorrow. We want to thank our partners across the trade for their support today.”
Travel Republic said the member of staff who had tested positive was now receiving medical attention.
Experience Africa show will go ahead
B2B travel trade show Experience Africa will take place as planned in London.
The show is scheduled to happen on June 22-24 in Canary Wharf.
Event director Byron Shirto said: “We intend for Experience Africa 2020 to go ahead and follow up with our travel industry partners and friends if our show plans change.
“We are continually monitoring the current global situation regarding COVID-19 virus and follow official advice from the UK government and the World Health Organisation.
“We understand that many of our exhibitors and buyers will be adhering to various protocols, restrictions and guidelines based upon their individual countries.
“Our stance right now is a cautiously optimistic one; let’s take care of one another sensibly and carry on with business as usual.”
Sixth guest at Tenerife hotel tests positive for coronavirus
A sixth guest has tested positive for coronavirus at the Tenerife hotel where holidaymakers have been kept in quarantine.
The Tenerife Tourism Board said the guest is not connected to the Italian group that initiated the lockdown at H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in Adeje, in the south of Tenerife.
The guest has now been transferred to a hospital but is not showing any symptoms.
The tourist board said an “epidemiological investigation of the case” has now begun to determine the route of infection.
A total of 193 guests, many of whom were Tui and Jet2holidays customers, have left the hotel.
Tui Group plans a hiring freeze, a cut in administration costs and the postponement of non-critical projects following weaker bookings last week due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Europe’s largest travel company is also reviewing capacity and set up task forces across all markets after a downturn in bookings following a strong peak turn of year performance.
The boss of Royal Caribbean Cruises has issued a message of reassurance to travel agents over the impact of coronavirus.
Chairman and chief executive Richard Fain appealed directly to the trade not to panic.
BA is cutting more flights as demand drops due to fears over the spread of coronavirus.
More than 200 flights are being cut or merged from London between March 16-28, including New York, Italy, France, Germany and other European countries.
BA said it was moving to “match reduced demand due to the continuing coronavirus issue”.
Regulators should suspend rules governing airlines’ use of airport take off and landing slots this summer due to the “extraordinary circumstances” of the coronavirus outbreak.
Under existing rules, airlines lose their airport slots if they are not used 80% of the time.
BA and Ryanair are among airlines to cut their capacity due to the virus.
“Given these extraordinary circumstances as a result of the public health emergency, the collective view of the airline industry is that the application of the 80% rule during the upcoming season is inappropriate,” the association said.
Miles Morgan says the majority of consumers are carrying on with their holidays despite coronavirus concerns.
The owner of Miles Morgan Travel told a BBC TV special on the outbreak that “over 99%” of clients are continuing with their holiday plans.
Speaking from an agency banrch in Taunton, he said: “It’s no suprise that our shops have been inundated with people asking questions.
“It’s quite comforting thay can sit in a travel agency and talk through what their options are.
Monday March 2
Ryanair said it is to cut its short-haul programme to Italy by up to 25% this spring in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The cancellations affect flights due to depart between March 17 and April 8.
The budget carrier said it had seen a “significant drop in bookings” for the late March and early April period over the past week.
It also noted “a significant step up in passenger no-shows on flights, particularly from and within Italy”.
Ryanair said it did not expect the cancellations to have a material impact on its current year results, to the end of March 2020, and said “it is far too early to speculate what impact the Covid-19 outbreak will have on FY21 earnings”.
British Airways claims to be the first UK airline to waive its fee for changing or delaying flights as fears continue over the spread of the coronavirus.
The airline announced the new policy would cover new bookings made in the next two weeks, between March 3 and March 16.
Lufthansa Group has extended the suspension of flights to mainland China until after Easter due to coronavirus.
No services will run from Germany, Switzerland, Austria to China by Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian Airlines until April 24.
Frequencies will also be cut to Hong Kong, Seoul and northern Italy.
Flights to Tehran will remain suspended until April 30.
The coronavirus crisis means tourism into Europe faces its biggest challenge since the 1991 Gulf War, Etoa has warned.
The threat posed by the virus and the “inherently irrational” fear generated by the threat have been highlighted as the two main problems by the European Tourism Association (Etoa).
“There are two principal problems: the threat posed by the virus, and the fear generated by this threat.”
It expects coronavirus will continue to spread within the next three weeks, and then gradually “fizzle out” over the following six weeks.
Virgin Voyages has pulled a two-night showcase for new ship Scarlet Lady in New York amid growing coronavirus health concerns.
The vessel will instead sail direct to its homeport of Miami following a trade and media showcase in Dover and Liverpool.
People travelling across the Atlantic on the vessel’s delivery voyage received a letter from chief executive Tom McAlpin confirming the “change of course”.
Leading OTA On the Beach issued a profits warning on the back of a drop in demand due to coronavirus.
The company, which claims a 20% share of online overseas beach holiday sales, issued a trading update on the impact of the virus to the London stock exchange on Friday afternoon.
The group said it “experienced a small but noticeable reduction” in demand for summer 2020 travel following the early reports of COVID-19 cases in early February.
“The reduction in demand has accelerated significantly following the increase in COVID-19 cases in Europe, particularly the spread of the virus to Tenerife,” the OTA said.
“Whilst this reduction in demand has led to a natural reduction in marketing spend, the board does not now expect the group to achieve payback in the current financial year on its previously outlined strategic marketing investment.”
A group of British holidaymakers stranded in a hotel under quarantine in Tenerife are being allowed to return to the UK from today (Monday) if they test negative for coronavirus.
The 160 tourists in lock down for a week at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace had previously been told they would have to be quarantine until March 10 after at least four guests tested positive for the virus.
However, Jet2holidays and Tui confirmed that they have been told by Public Health England that the British contingent can return home if they are free of the virus.
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