Delta to restart London Heathrow passenger services from Detroit

Delta has recently announced plans to restart its passenger services from the United States to U.K as demand for air cargo is driving demand for passenger travel.

Beginning May 21, 2020, flights will operate three times weekly between Detroit and London. The flights will also be available for customer travel.

‘Keeping global supply chains open is more important now than ever and these new services will enable suppliers to meet the needs of their customers,’ said Shawn Cole, Vice President – Delta Cargo. ‘We’re receiving daily requests for shipments of medical supplies as well as goods that keep businesses in operation. By also opening these services to passengers, we can facilitate essential travel between the U.K., Europe and United States.’

With the COVID-19 pandemic still underway, Delta has implemented several measures to keep its customers safer on board and in airports. These include: sanitizing the aircraft before every flight; using advanced air circulation systems with HEPA filters that help extract viruses; capping capacity throughout the aircraft to ensure onboard customer spacing; adjusting the boarding process to encourage more space for safer travel by boarding all flights from back-to-front; providing supplies directly to customers when available, including hand sanitizers; and requiring employees and customers to wear a face mask or appropriate covering when travelling.

‘The safety of our customers is always our number one priority, and their wellbeing is the reason we have implemented these wide-ranging measures,’ said Roberto Ioriatti, Vice President – Transatlantic. ‘The advent of COVID-19 is changing the way we fly and that’s why our focus on cleanliness will remain in place always. We hope that these efforts will give our customers greater peace of mind when they step on board.’

Cargo will be transported between Chicago and London, via Detroit, increasing the shipping opportunities for cargo customers. The Heathrow service will be operated using a Boeing 767-300 with 26 tons of cargo capacity.

The flight will depart London Heathrow at 1255 on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, arriving into Detroit at 1630. On return, the flight will depart Detroit at 1800 on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, arriving into London Heathrow at 0855 the following day. The flights will operate to and from Heathrow Terminal 2, as Terminal 3 is currently closed. There are limited retail outlets open at both airports and all lounges are currently closed.

Ryanair to restore 40% of scheduled flights starting July

Ryanair, the Irish low cost airline, has said that it plans to return to 40 percent of normal flight schedules from Wednesday, July 1, 2020, subject to Government restrictions on intra-EU flights being lifted, and effective public health measures being established at airports.

Ryanair will operate a daily flight schedule of almost 1,000 flights, restoring 90 percent of its pre-Covid-19 route network. Since the Covid-19 flight restrictions in mid-March, Ryanair has been operating a skeleton daily schedule of 30 flights between Ireland, the UK and Europe. From July, Ryanair will restart flying from most of its 80 bases across Europe. Full details of these routes, frequencies, flight times, and promotional prices are available on www.Ryanair.com

Ryanair is urging passengers to observe effective health measures to limit the spread of Covid-19 virus. These include fewer checked bags, check in online, downloading boarding pass via smart phone, as well as undergoing temperature checks at airport entry and wearing face masks/coverings at all times in the terminal and on board aircraft.

All Ryanair aircraft are fitted with HEPA air filters (similar to those used in critical hospital wards) and all aircraft interior surfaces are disinfected every night with chemicals, which are effective for over 24 hours. While temperature checks and face masks/coverings are key to this healthy return to service, social distancing at airports and onboard aircraft will be encouraged where it is possible.

On board its aircraft, Ryanair offers limited in-flight service of pre-packaged snacks and drinks, but no cash sales. All onboard transactions will be cashless. Queuing for toilets will be prohibited on board and toilet access will be made available to individual passengers upon request. Ryanair encourages passengers to regularly hand wash and use hand sanitizers in airport terminals.

Ryanair’s CEO Eddie Wilson said: ‘It is important for our customers and our people that we return to some normal schedules from 1 July onwards. Governments around Europe have implemented a 4 month lockdown to limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus. After 4 months, it is time to get Europe flying again so we can reunite friends and families, allow people to return to work, and restart Europe’s tourism industry, which provides so many millions of jobs.

Seats on all these flights are now on sale at www.Ryanair.com from 1 July, at prices which start from just EUR19.99 one way. We will continue to work closely with public health agencies to encourage our people and passengers to adopt practical and effective steps to limit the spread of Covid-19 virus, in the best interest of our passengers, our people and our communities.’

As EU States emerge from their respective Covid-19 lockdowns, Ryanair will also require all passengers flying in July and August to fill in details (at the point of check in) as to the duration of their visit, and also their address while visiting another EU country. This contact information will be provided to EU Governments to help them to monitor any isolation regulations they require of visitors on intra-EU flights.

London Stansted asks passengers to wear face coverings

London Stansted is urging passengers travelling through London Stansted to cover their faces and wear gloves.

The airport’s owner, Manchester Airports Group (MAG), has issued the new guidance and is trialling the measures across its other airports, Manchester and East Midlands. The move makes these airports the first in the UK to ask their passengers to wear face coverings.

The move is aimed at ensuring that the limited number of passengers currently making essential journeys through its airports feels safer and confident about flying. It will also provide a further level of protection to colleagues working at the airport. The pilot scheme will provide valuable feedback and set a path towards a new minimum standard for safe international travel.

Passengers are urged to bring their own gloves and face coverings or face masks to the airport. However, in the early stages of the pilot, for those arriving without, gloves and masks will be provided that can be worn throughout passengers’ time at the airport. London Stansted will also be conducting some limited temperature screening trials over the next few weeks. Initially, during this trial phase, this will be to test equipment and results will not be communicated to passengers or used to decide whether a passenger can travel.

MAG is planning to ask all passengers to make a health declaration in order to enter its airports and will give passengers sufficient notice of any such trials.

London Stansted Chief Operating Officer, Steve Griffiths, said: ‘It’s clear that social distancing will not work on any form of public transport. But we’re confident that when the time is right, people will be able to travel safely.

‘Here at London Stansted, we’ve been working hard with our two sister airports and the rest of the industry on a new safety framework for travel. We now need to work urgently with Government to agree how we operate in the future. This has to be a top priority so that people can be confident about flying, and to get tourism and travel going again.

‘ We have taken expert medical advice on how people can travel safely, and we’re pleased to be piloting these new measures at our airports for those passengers who do still need to travel. We expect to be able to agree a new framework by the end of May that will support a restart of the industry as soon as possible.’

Heathrow to commence COVID detection trials to reduce risk of Coronavirus transmission

London Heathrow has said that it will test out technologies and processes that could reduce risk of Covid-19 transmission while travelling, driving the development of a Common International Standard for health screening globally.

The trials – which will assess for medical effectiveness, passenger response as well as suitability to the airport environment – could form the basis of a Common International Standard for health screening at all global airports. Before any new measures are rolled out across the airport, they will be reviewed against Heathrow’s three tests to ensure that they are medically grounded, build consumer confidence and practical for airports to deliver.

The concepts under review as part of the Heathrow trials include: UV sanitation, to quickly and efficiently sanitise security trays; facial recognition thermal screening technology to accurately track body temperature; and contact-free security screening equipment to reduce person-to-person contact.

The first of the trials will be a temperature screening technology that uses camera detection systems capable of monitoring the temperatures of people moving through the airport. The passenger-facing trials will first be conducted in the airport’s immigration halls, and if successful will be introduced in departures, connections and colleague search areas. The trials will begin in the next two weeks in Terminal 2.

Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye, said: ‘Aviation is the cornerstone of the UK economy, and to restart the economy, the Government needs to help restart aviation. The UK has the world’s third largest aviation sector offering the platform for the Government to take a lead in agreeing a Common International Standard for aviation health with our main trading partners. This Standard is key to minimising transmission of Covid-19 across borders, and the technology we are trialling at Heathrow could be part of the solution.’

As an international hub airport, Heathrow follows an international standard and is already required to carry out temperature checks by some other countries. Temperature screening was introduced following previous outbreaks of SARS and Ebola, with some countries using thermal checks as a control measure against COVID-19.

Data from trials on COVID-19 mitigation will be shared with Government, aviation industry and other UK airports to drive the creation of a Common International Standard for health screening. Holland-Kaye has been urging the UK Government to lead the global implementation of a Common International Standard, to ensure continued passenger safety and restore confidence in travel as countries prepare to ease their respective lockdowns.

Virgin Atlantic announces plans to optimise network, to leave Gatwick Airport

Virgin Atlantic has announced plans optimise its network, in response to the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the global economy, including the travel and aviation industry.

Accordingly, Virgin Atlantic said that it will fly only wide-body, twin-engine aircraft from London Heathrow and Manchester to the most popular destinations. It will shift its flying programme from London Gatwick to London Heathrow, with the intention of retaining its slot portfolio at London Gatwick, so it can return in line with customer demand.

Shai Weiss, CEO, Virgin Atlantic, commented: ‘We have weathered many storms since our first flight 36 years ago, but none has been as devastating as Covid-19 and the associated loss of life and livelihood for so many.

‘However, to safeguard our future and emerge a sustainably profitable business, now is the time for further action to reduce our costs, preserve cash and to protect as many jobs as possible. It is crucial that we return to profitability in 2021. This will mean taking steps to reshape and resize Virgin Atlantic in line with demand, while always keeping our people and customers at the heart of all we do.

‘Our vision for Virgin Atlantic remains the same – to become the most loved travel company, for our people and our customers. Once the crisis stabilises, Virgin Atlantic has an important role to play in contributing to the UK’s economic recovery, providing essential connectivity and competition.’

In response to Virgin Atlantic’s plans, a Gatwick spokesperson said: ‘We are very saddened to hear the news today about Virgin Atlantic’s plans. We have had a long, close and successful relationship with the airline since it made its maiden flight from Gatwick back in 1984. Virgin Atlantic will always be welcome at Gatwick and we will continue our efforts to explore ways to restart the airline’s operations as soon as possible, in the knowledge that they intend to retain their slot portfolio at Gatwick for when demand returns.

‘This news will be devastating for its staff and the many local businesses that supply and support the airline at the airport and its HQ in Crawley, however we will continue to work with Virgin Atlantic to get them flying again from Gatwick.

Further, Virgin Atlantic said that focusing on one powerful brand, Virgin Holidays will become Virgin Atlantic Holidays, while simplifying the brands for customers.

TUI expects cruising to be back to pre-coronavirus levels within a year

According to TUI Cruises, the demand for cruises will be back to normal – pre-coronavirus – levels within a year, The Telegraph has reported.

TUI, one of the world’s leading travel companies and the parent of UK and Ireland brand Marella Cruises, said that about half of passengers whose cruises have been cancelled have already rebooked.

TUI, which has invested heavily in cruises in recent years, was forced to cancel and delay itineraries due to the risks from the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. Marella Cruises has already suspended cruise ship holidays until the June-end and will retire Marella Celebration earlier than planned.

TUI chief Wybcke Meier reportedly told The Telegraph that even as dozens of cruises had to be cancelled, she was positive that the business would bounce back quickly.

‘We are convinced that in the long-term the demand for premium and luxury cruises will not change,’ Meir said. ‘We will see the demand for cruises return to pre-crisis level within 12 to 18 months.’

Earlier, Which? alleged that the UK’s leading travel companies, including TUI, were failing in their legal duty to issue refunds on trips impacted by coronavirus within 14 days. Major travel companies and airlines were withholding up to £7billion worth of cash refunds on cancelled holidays, the consumer group said.

‘The Government must urgently set out how it will support travel firms and airlines to ensure they can meet their legal obligations to refund customers for cancelled travel plans – and avoid permanent damage to trust and confidence in the travel industry,’ Which? Travel Editor Rory Boland said.

Suspension of cruises to cost UK economy £888 million

According to new data from Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the 90-day suspension of cruises will cost the UK economy £888m and lead to the loss of 5,525 jobs and £287m in wages, The Telegraph has reported.

The Association represents more than 95 per cent of the world’s cruise fleet. Across the UK, the cruise industry supports 40,517 direct jobs paying £1.35bn in wages. These are the cruise line employees, both on board and shoreside.

Nearly a fifth of the 435,000 people employed in the businesses supported by the cruise industry across Europe are also based in the UK, paying £3.05bn in wages. These include an extensive supply chain featuring travel agencies, hotels, local transport operators, and port agents, and the industry also supports catering companies, including many small and family-run businesses providing specialist food produce.

Along with indirect jobs, the total predicted economic loss rises to GBP2.37bn, 13,788 jobs, and GBP746m in wages for a 90-day suspension. For every 1% drop in cruising in the UK, CLIA anticipates up to 530 jobs can be lost. Each day of the suspension results in the loss of 55 direct jobs and 139 total jobs in the UK, the report noted.

Andy Harmer, director, Clia UK and Ireland, said: ‘The cruise industry generates £10 billion for the UK economy each year. We understand the significant impact, therefore, that our decision to suspend operations has on the livelihoods of people who work in our sector, and on businesses that rely on the cruise industry in all parts of the country. Unfortunately, our research shows that for a 90-day suspension we can anticipate a loss of more than 5,525 UK jobs and an economic cost of £888 million to the UK.’

‘Choosing to suspend operations was the right thing to do, and we know the cruise industry is resilient. We have put public health at the heart of our response, and we will continue to respect the guidance from international and national health authorities. We are using this time to enhance further our protocols that we will all benefit from, and we look forward to playing our part in the recovery, when the time comes for society to travel once more.’

The report come as both P&O Cruises and Cunard extended their suspension of global operations until July 31 at least. Neither line had ruled out extending beyond that date. They had announced they were starting to shut down operations on March 16.

96% of global destinations impose travel restrictions in response to Covid-19, UNWTO

According to research by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), as of April, 6, 96 percent of all worldwide destinations have introduced travel restrictions in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

As the United Nation’s specialised agency for tourism, UNWTO has been regularly monitoring travel facilitation and observing a continuous trend towards more openness. However, Covid-19 changed it all. Studying the scale of disruption caused by COVID-19 to global tourism, the report said that almost all global destinations have imposed restrictions on travel since January 2020 as part of efforts to mitigate the pandemic. Around 90 destinations have completely or partially closed their borders to tourists, while a further 44 are closed to certain tourists depending on country of origin.

The UNWTO global review found that the global regions are largely consistent in their response to COVID-19. In Africa, Asia and the Pacific and the Middle East, 100 percent of destinations have adopted COVID-19-related restrictions since January 2020. In the Americas, 92 percent of destinations have taken similar steps; while in Europe, it is 93 percent as of April 6.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: ‘COVID-19 has impacted travel and tourism like no other event before in history. Governments have put public health first and introduced full or partial restrictions on travel. With tourism suspended, the benefits the sector brings are under threat: millions of jobs could be lost, and progress made in the fields of equality and sustainable economic growth could be rolled back. UNWTO therefore calls on governments to continuously review travel restrictions and ease or lift them as soon as it is safe to do so.’

The research identifies four key types of restrictive measures, such as: complete or partial closure of borders to tourists; destination-specific travel restrictions, the total or partial suspension of flights; and other measures, including requirements for quarantine or self-isolation, medical certificates, invalidation or suspension of visa issuances etc.

According to the report, destinations have already started adjusting their restrictive measures as the situation has evolved. ‘UNWTO will continue to regularly track and analyse the evolution of travel restrictions, in an effort to effectively support the responsible but also timely recovery of the tourism sector,’ it said.

Aviation industry looks into future travel arrangements

‘de-densification’ and ‘neutralisation’ are now the catchphrases as the aviation industry looks into future travel once permitted to restart from the current grounding of passenger aircraft.

According to a report in The Independent, Alexandre de Juniac, director general and chief executive of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said that governments and health authorities will impose strict new rules intended to reduce the spread of Covid-19 when aviation restarts at scale. The concept of ‘de-densification’ and ‘neutralisation’ will be applied onboard as measures to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

De-densification refers to the reduction in passenger numbers to facilitate social distancing within the aircraft, while neutralisation refers to the process of specifying seats that must remain unoccupied.

Mr De Juniac said: ‘De-densification, if it is requested by the civil aviation and the health authority, will be by neutralising one seat in each row among the two rows of seats of short-haul aircraft.’

‘That is a complete shift of the business model of airlines operating short-haul aircraft,’ he added. On a Ryanair aircraft normally holding 189 passengers, with the middle seats unoccupied, only 126 would be allowed on board, the report noted.

Further, the CAA guidelines specify that the aircraft toilets must be cleaned after they have been used 10 times. Airlines cannot sell the last three rows of seats on international flights, which must be ‘reserved as a quarantine area for handling possible in-flight emergencies’. The rear lavatory on the right side should be designated for the exclusive use by those under quarantine. One flight attendant will be assigned to look after the passenger, and ‘should refrain from close contact with other crew members’.

Following this reduction, airlines would face higher costs, which will inevitably be passed on to the passenger, the report noted. If airlines are required to cut passenger numbers by one-third, fares could rise by 50 per cent, the report said, though the exact increase would depend on supply and demand.

British Airways carries vital medical supplies to Britain from China

British Airways has said that it is flying to deliver vital medical supplies, including PPE and ventilators, from China to London, to assist the NHS in responding to the COVID-19 crisis.

The flight was operated in partnership with the UK Government and IAG Cargo. The British Airways Boeing 777 is loaded with ventilators as well as personal protective equipment (PPE) including goggles, face guards and gowns.

The British Embassy is working with the Department of Health to procure medical equipment from China and deliver it to NHS hospitals all over the UK. The flight was made possible after the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) gave permission to reopen British Airways’ regular Shanghai to Heathrow passenger route for cargo use.

Alex Cruz, British Airways’ Chairman and Chief Executive, said: ‘We are doing all we can to support the global response to Covid-19, whether it’s flying important medical supplies in to the UK or helping to bring Britons home. We will continue to use all available resources to support the Government, the NHS and communities all over the world who might be in need of our help.’

Minister of State for Asia, Nigel Adams said: ‘I am delighted that we have been able to reopen the British Airways route from Shanghai to deliver lifesaving equipment that we have bought for the NHS.

‘We have been working round the clock to bolster the NHS supplies and save lives and we are seeking further deliveries as a matter of urgency.’

The flight on April 9 is the first of several British Airways flights containing medical equipment and supplies coming in to the UK from China. In the next days, 55 tonnes of hand sanitiser – equivalent to around 62,000 large bottles – will arrive in the UK on a similar flight from Shanghai.

British Airways along with its sister company, IAG Cargo is flying supplies around the world. Since March, IAG Cargo and airlines within International Airlines Group (IAG) including Aer Lingus and Iberia have been working to bring medical supplies to Europe to help in the fight against the impact of the Covid-19.