Air travel was gaining momentum. So what?

Confidence in the coronavirus pandemic process has helped return passengers to the plane in recent months. Thanksgiving Week is becoming one of the busiest times of air travel in the United States, as it almost stopped in the spring. The news that effective vaccines may be at hand lifted airline stocks.

However, new concerns about the spread of the virus have rattled travelers and threatened airline hopes in the coming months.

United Airlines said Thursday that a surge in virus cases delayed bookings and recently increased cancellations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged Americans to avoid vacation trips altogether and has presented the industry with the latest tragic questions: how dark can this winter be?

“There are two trains running to us,” said John Grant, a senior analyst at OAG, an aviation data company based near London. “One is optimistic about vaccines and the other is sadly more careful. Who gets there first?”

When Angela Henry booked a Thanksgiving flight a few months ago, she didn’t expect the United States to set a new coronavirus infection record as her vacation approached. She also didn’t know she would get pregnant.

Henry, 30, and her husband agonized over whether to stick to their plan to fly from Northern California to Atlanta to spend Thanksgiving with their families. After seeking advice from loved ones and healthcare professionals and weighing the risks, they recently decided to do it.

“It was hard,” she said. “I was trying to find that rational midpoint.”

Airlines are generally safe to fly due to various policies implemented to limit transmission, high-end air filtration on airplanes, and a relatively small number of published cases of coronavirus spreading during flight. Claim to be. However, science has not yet been resolved, travelers are at risk throughout the journey, and many passengers are discouraged by blockades and outbreaks where they want to visit.

Passenger numbers have fallen by more than 60% since last year, and the industry is losing tens of millions of dollars a day.

Airlines for America, the country’s largest airline group, said it expects more people to fly than in the weeks before and after Thanksgiving, but seats sold are higher than last year. It was estimated to decrease by about 40%. .. American Airlines said it expects to fly about 15 percent more flights around the holidays than the rest of the month. Delta expects to fly about 2 million passengers during the holidays, and United Airlines expects Thanksgiving to be the busiest week since the pandemic began.

“They understand that mask compliance is really good. They’ve seen how clean the plane is. They’ve probably seen electrostatic sprayers in action. Josh Earnest, United’s Chief Communications Officer, has seen us board planes from back to front and socially distanced on boarding bridges.

Thanksgiving may improve the fate of the aviation industry, but the outlook for passenger demand in the coming weeks will be dim. Southwest Airlines said last week that booking momentum seems to be slowing for the rest of the year.I’m also watching American Airlines Falling demand due to virusesSignificantly reduced December flights between the United States and Europe, leaving two daily flights from Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport to London and Frankfurt.

To some extent, the heterogeneity of travel recovery is hardly surprising, said Helene Becker, managing director and senior airline analyst at Cowen.

“We always knew it would be choppy, but people still want to travel and they’re looking for a way out,” Becker said in a panel at the Skift Aviation Forum on Thursday. I think. “

In Europe, the mood is much darker, with expectations for a revival of the holiday season largely shattered by the resurrection of the infection and blockade measures to curb the spread of the virus reintroduced this month.

Ski resorts in the United States look forward to winter trips, but ski resorts in France, Austria and Italy are closed until at least the end of November. Thousands of Christmas markets attracting millions of visitors each year with mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and handmade holiday gifts have been canceled and Santa Claus has been exhibited online.

“Currently, looking at the landscape of Europe as a whole, we don’t have much hope for the winter season,” said Eric Dressin, secretary-general of the European Travel Agency and Tour Operators Association. “We are in a situation where we cannot plan anything, which is of course inconvenient for the industry.”

The European Union has decided travel restrictions based on new infection rates, testing rates, and incidence per 100,000 inhabitants over the last 14 days, labeling countries and individual regions green, amber, or red. I am using a signaling system to attach. Most Member States require travelers arriving from high-risk red areas to be tested for coronavirus or to quarantine themselves upon arrival. At the end of last week, all European countries were labeled in red, except Norway and Finland.

Associations of travel and airlines across Europe are calling for collaborative testing and contact tracing protocols to replace comprehensive quarantine measures, which cause uncertainty and confusion among travelers and lead to the spread of the virus. It claims to have only limited impact.

London restaurant manager Elsbeth McGawley had to rush back from France to the UK in August to circumvent the two-week quarantine requirement announced just 24 hours before the entry into force. I had 6 days left to book the hotel, but I had to cancel it because I couldn’t afford to take a break from work due to quarantine.

“It was a nightmare to change tickets and try to get back in time,” she said in a telephone interview. “I wanted a little break and a change of scene after being cuckolded at home for months, but it was a challenge and not worth the hassle.”

McGolly usually booked a Christmas trip to a European city a year ago, but this year he canceled his plan and decided to stay in the UK to avoid last-minute disappointment.

“It’s still impossible to make a reservation a month ago,” she said. “There are restrictions everywhere, and even if one place is opened, there is no way to know if things will stay that way. This is a big bet and you will get a refund if a problem arises. There is no guarantee, so it’s not worth the risk. “

Travel agencies across Europe have said that more and more people are looking for winter destinations in recent weeks, but few inquiries have turned into bookings due to uncertainties in travel restrictions. The lack of such strict restrictions has continued to travel in the United States, but for how long everyone speculates.

Grant of OAG, an aviation data company, said: “We are all sitting here to see how the next two weeks will change, not only from Thanksgiving, but perhaps from Covid infection rates.”

Air travel was gaining momentum. So what?

Source link Air travel was gaining momentum. So what?

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