Categories
Transport

New United CEO Scott Kirby Comes Out Firing

United Airlines’ Scott Kirby, who took over as CEO last week in the wake of Oscar Munoz’s retirement, is wasting no time establishing his authority.

Kirby cut 13 high-level executives in a cash-saving move on Friday as the coronavirus pandemic has throttled the industry financially. A day earlier, he told an online investor conference that the airline absolutely would not declare bankruptcy, and that he thought flying was safe enough to not block the middle seats on planes from being sold.

Well, he did build a reputation as an open – some might say abrasive – executive while at American Airlines.

Kirby is eliminating 13 of United’s 67 officer positions, all effective on Oct. 1. That’s the day after the restrictions on firing employees runs out per the federal government’s rules for airlines accepting billions of dollars in stimulus package grants and loans.

“While there are glimmers of good news in our July schedule — we expect to be down about 75% versus 90% right now — travel demand is still a very long way from where it was at the end of last year and the financial impact on our business remains severe,” United said in a written statement as reported by CNBC.

The cuts are in response to the loss of nearly 90 percent of business for United and all airlines, as the demand for travel has dropped dramatically compared to last year and beyond.

But Kirby defiantly said during the investor conference a day before that he has no plans for the airline to go bankrupt.

“Zero percent, no chance,” Kirby said. “It’s worse for shareholders. It’s worse for creditors. It’s worse for employees. It’s worse for every constituent that we have.”

To that end, Kirby also said he won’t sacrifice potential sales by blocking middle seats, as some airlines have done. As the blog The Points Guy noted, Kirby said the airline’s cleaning process, air circulation and a requirement for passengers and crew to wear face masks make it a safe experience.

“Airplanes don’t have social distancing — we’re not going to be six feet apart,” he said. “But an airplane environment is incredibly safe.”

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Categories
Holiday

Disney World Updates Reservation System Ahead of Reopening

Walt Disney World Resort has announced a series of updates for new ticket sales and hotel reservations; dining and experiences and FastPass+ and Extra Magic Hours ahead of the attraction’s phased reopening beginning on July 11.

The parks will manage attendance through a new reservation system on DisneyWorld.com that will require all guests to make a reservation in advance of their visit in order to gain entry.

Disney is temporarily pausing new ticket sales and Disney Resort hotel reservations so it can prioritize existing tickets and reservations. Those guests with existing tickets and Annual Passholders can make a reservation before new tickets are sold and will be contacted with additional details.

New ticket sales and Disney Resort hotel reservations will resume at a later time, with reservations limited due to attendance restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 impact.

Upon reopening, some offerings, including restaurants and behind-the-scenes tours will also be limited in capacity. Disney has canceled all existing dining reservations and experience bookings, including Disney dining plans included in packages, but plans to reopen a limited number of dining and experience bookings closer to reopening.

What’s more, Disney is moving from a 180-day booking window to a 60-day window for dining and experience bookings so that guests can secure plans much closer to their visit.

Finally, Disney announced that its FastPass+ service will be suspended for the time being so that it can use the additional queue space to manage capacity and maintain social distancing. Existing FastPass+ selections will be automatically canceled as a result and Extra Magic Hours will be temporarily suspended.

Disney is reaching out to affected guests to provide them with additional information and details on what their options are, including refunds.

Contact your travel advisor or visit the “Know Before You Go” hub at DisneyWorld.com/Updates for the latest information.

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Categories
Travel

FCO travel advice: When will FCO lift travel ban?

Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised against all but essential international travel. At the beginning of the outbreak many British nationals were stuck abroad as the world’s airports began to shut down in response to the growing threat of coronavirus.

The FCO’s exceptional travel advisory notice reads: “As countries respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, including travel and border restrictions, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office advises British nationals against all but essential international travel.

“Any country or area may restrict travel without notice.

“If you live in the UK and are currently travelling abroad, you are strongly advised to return now, where and while there are still commercial routes available.

“Many airlines have suspended flights and many airports are closed, preventing flights from leaving.”


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The travel advisory has been in place since March 17.

Travelling to another country while a travel advisory is out will invalidate all travel insurance claims.

When will the FCO lift travel bans?

Strictly speaking, travel advisories are not travel bans.

You cannot be prosecuted for travelling internationally – although you will not be able to obtain travel insurance.

Although many airlines have been forced to ground their fleets, some commercial flights have been running, and the Government repatriated stuck Britons earlier on in the crisis.

Flights will resume for many of the big providers soon, with Jet2, Easyjet and Ryanair all announcing plans to sell flights again in June.

Despite this, the advisory has not been lifted and the Government has not solidly indicated when this will happen.

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The Government said it is continuing to look at further options for international travel.

These include “air bridges” – agreements between countries with similar transmission rates to recognise the other nation’s passenger departure screening measures and remove the need for quarantine measures for incoming passengers.

The “air bridges” scheme was approved by the Government earlier this week.

However, none of these are set in stone and only essential travel is permitted.

The changes come as the summer holiday season grows closer, with some countries putting their own bans on Brits travelling to popular destinations due to the UK’s high death and infection rate.

Those who travel into the UK will soon have to quarantine for 14 days, in plans announced earlier this month.

Greece announced that once the country had opened up to international travel again, the UK is not among the 29 countries permitted to travel there.

Greece has so far had far fewer cases of coronavirus than the UK, with 2,906 confirmed cases and 175 deaths. The Greek islands, which rely heavily on tourism, have had no confirmed cases.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “As the world begins to emerge from what we hope is the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, we must look to the future and protect the British public by reducing the risk of cases crossing our border.

“We are introducing these new measures now to keep the transmission rate down and prevent a devastating second wave.”

UK arrivals from the Common Travel Area, including Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, will be exempt from the rule, alongside a very limited group of workers, including freight drivers and medical professionals.

Anyone else arriving in the UK by plane, ferry or train would be required to provide border officials with an address where they will self isolate, and will be checked in on to make sure they are abiding by the rules.

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Categories
Travel

Mexico holidays: Cancun offering holidaymakers free hotels and meals as country reopens

Mexico holidays are normally much loved by Britons thanks to the sun, sea and sand on offer as well as fascinating history and taste cuisine. Sadly trips to the destination have not been possible for several months due to the coronavirus crisis. However, Mexican tourist hotpot Cancun is now eager to tempt visitors back.

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The resort is offering a brand new campaign to gift tourist with a number of freebies.

These range from free meals, theme park entry and hotel stays.

The private initiative will be officially launched on June 15 and involves more than 200 firms.

The new campaign revolves around the number two.

The hotels involved are offering two nights free for every two nights booked or a free stay for two children when two adults book.

A similar discount would apply to hire care rental.

This could see holidaymakers getting two days free for every four days they pay for.

According to local reports, offers for golf and spa services and theme park entry will also be included in the Mexico campaign.

Also expected to take part are tourist-orientated businesses in the resorts of Puerto Morelos and Tulum, as well as the Caribbean island of Isla Mujeres, eight miles off the coast from Cancun.

Three-quarters of those backing the campaign are hotels.

Roberto Cintron, President of the Cancun, Puerto Morelos and Isla Mujeres Hotels Association, said: “We are very happy and above all, committed because of the great participation in this campaign of the different state hotel associations as well as the tourist industry generally.

“It’s designed to reactivate holidays to our destinations after the crisis caused by Covid-19.”

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Oliver Reinhart is CEO of Mexican firm Atelier de Hoteles which has luxury all-inclusive hotels in Cancun and Playa Mujeres.

He told local media: “In the face of this atypical situation, we had to react to maintain our spectacular destinations in the forefront of tourists’ minds.

“This is why we proposed the implementation of a disruptive idea and creation of a campaign of great impact.

“We are convinced the formula to reactivate tourism is working together.

Reinhart continued: “The campaign is not about cheating the destination to a two for one.

“Cancun is worth what it is.

“If it’s now available at a cheaper price take advantage of it because it’s not going to last forever.”

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Categories
Travel

Chinese airlines to operate more flights than US carriers in May

Chinese airlines have flown more passenger flights in a month than US carriers for the first time ever

  • Data shows Chinese airlines operated 200,000 flights from May 1 until May 27
  • This compares with fewer than 170,000 flights by carriers based in the U.S 
  • U.S operators remain 74% down as a result of the coronavirus crisis downturn 
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May 2020 will be the first-ever month in which Chinese airlines operate more passenger jet flights than their US counterparts.

Tracking data from Cirium shows from Friday, May 1, up to and including Wednesday, May 27, Chinese carriers completed nearly 200,000 flights with passenger-configured widebody, narrowbody and regional jet aircraft.

This compares with fewer than 170,000 flights in May by carriers based in the U.S.

A graph showing how Chinese airlines are currently operating more flights than U.S airlines 

Cirium said that China achieved this milestone ‘because its airlines have recovered to an activity level approximately 35 per cent below last year’.

It added that US operators remain 74 per cent down as a result of the collapse in passenger demand due to the coronavirus crisis.

Meanwhile, the global stored passenger aircraft fleet has declined slightly to just over 15,000, says Cirium, taking the overall proportion of inactive aircraft down a further percentage point to 57 per cent.

Yesterday, American Airlines revealed it would be cutting 30 per cent of its management and support staff in its latest belt-tightening move during the prolonged Covid-19 downturn. 

China’s airlines have recovered to an activity level approximately 35 per cent below last year

The big US carrier outlined a series of measures to reduce headcount throughout its operations in an email to staff that was released in a securities filing on Thursday.

American currently has a team of 17,000 people in management and support, meaning the actions planned will cut about 5,100 jobs.

The move follows statements from United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and other carriers that have signalled deep job cuts due to sinking air travel demand from coronavirus shutdowns.

American Airlines has revealed it will be cutting 30 per cent of its management and support staff in its latest belt-tightening move during the prolonged Covid-19 downturn

Meanwhile, aircraft maker Boeing, one of America’s largest manufacturers as well as its number one exporter, is cutting more than 12,000 U.S jobs.

‘The Covid-19 pandemic’s devastating impact on the airline industry means a deep cut in the number of commercial jets and services our customers will need over the next few years, which in turn means fewer jobs on our lines and in our offices,’ said David Calhoun, CEO and president of Boeing, on Wednesday in a memo to employees.

The Chicago-based company said it would lay off 6,770 U.S employees this week, and another 5,520 workers are taking buyout offers to leave voluntarily in the coming weeks.

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Categories
Destinations

Mexico’s San Miguel de Allende Begins Reopening Process on June 1

One of Mexico’s most iconic destinations—San Miguel de Allende—has begun the process of reopening its doors to tourism, and will enter into Phase 0 of the country’s COVID-19 reactivation plan on June 1.

The first phase of the reopening, which affects residents, will include the reopening of restaurants, shopping centers, markets, public transportation and offices—but not hotels, bars or clubs.

Restaurants will be permitted to operate at 50 percent of capacity and markets at 30 percent of capacity, said San Miguel de Allende Major Luis Alberto Villarreal García.

“We still haven’t opened the doors to our visitors. San Miguel is not opening to tourism, not yet,” he said, adding that it will be a gradual process.

During Phase 0, businesses are applying for Health First certifications to work toward ensuring they are in compliance with cleanliness and sanitation protocols.

Hotels—which tourism officials said might open in Phase 1—will also be required to apply for Health First certifications and demonstrate that they meeting the required protocols to reopen. Certification is “free but mandatory,” Villarreal said.

Other destinations in Mexico are also preparing to welcome travelers again.

In Los Cabos, reopening is scheduled to begin on June 1, with the resumption of travel activities and limited national and international arrivals.

Quintana Roo announced that the Mexican state’s tourism industry will begin reopening on June 8.

Earlier this week, Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit entered the Stage 0 reopening process.

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Categories
Travel

Turkey holidays: When will Turkey allow UK tourists?

Turkey is one of the most popular holiday destinations for Brits, with beautiful beaches, warm weather and a range of sights to see. However, holidays have been put on hold this year as the world grapples with the spread of coronavirus.

Many countries are beginning to lift strict lockdown restrictions, and Turkey is starting to ease some measures.

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday Turkey will lift restrictions on intercity travel and allow restaurants, cafes, parks and sports facilities to reopen from Monday, June 1.

Museums and beaches will also open from June 1, Mr Erdogan said after a cabinet meeting.

He said restrictions would remain in place on the movements of those aged over 65 and under 18.

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The virus has killed nearly 4,500 people in Turkey, with more than 160,000 infections.

The economy is expected to tip into recession as a result of the containment measures.

Mr Erdogan said in a televised address: “Under the new normal order, let us not neglect masks, distancing and hygiene.”

He said: “We don’t have the slightest doubt that we will make up for all our losses of the last 2-1/2 months in a short period of time.

“Let’s definitely wear masks out, maintain physical distance and pay attention to hygiene. These are three essential things for us.”

In early April, Turkey stopped all travel between 31 cities, including Istanbul, excluding transit passage and essential supplies.

The country then reduced the restrictions to 15 cities but they will end on June 1.

Among other easing measures, Turkey began operating intercity trains on Thursday after a two-month break.

Mosques will also begin allowing mass prayers from today, May 29.

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When can British tourists return to Turkey?

Despite Turkey beginning to reduce lockdown measures across the country, it may be a while yet until Brits can fly to the country.

British tourists are not expected to return until at least autumn, with domestic travellers the priority, according to local media.

This is due to fears of another outbreak, as well as making sure social distancing guidelines are being enforced.

Some restrictions may be in place when British tourists can return, with some holiday resorts across the country potentially requiring guests to prove they don’t have COVID-19 with health certificates.

As part of the fight against the deadly virus, hotels, airports and attractions will all be sterilised.

These locations will also be told to allow enough space for social distancing.

Other measures may include temperature checks at hotels and airports.

For anyone wanting to fly, the UK will be enforcing a 14-day quarantine on anyone entering the country, including British nationals, from next month.

On arriving into the UK, travellers will have to fill out a form and give details of any onward journeys and where they will be staying.

The Government may then contact travellers within those 14 days to ensure quarantine rules are being adhered to.

Current Government guidelines on international travel stipulate only essential journeys should take place.

This also applies to anyone looking to holiday in Britain, with the guidance stating: “Leaving your home – the place you live – to stay at another home for a holiday or other purpose is not allowed. This includes visiting second homes.”

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Categories
Travel

Spain holiday warning: Canary Islands demands tourists take coronavirus test before entry

The Canary Islands are a very popular holiday destination with Britons and tourists around the world. Usually, the islands are inundated with tourists each summer hoping to soak up some sun and sand. However, now the islands are insisting that foreign tourists – including Britons – have to take a COVID-19 test before they travel to the islands.

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The local government said the measure will be expensive.

However, the government has indicated that hoteliers and airlines might be willing to team up with the public sector to help pay the bill.

Vice-president of the Government of the Canary Islands and Minister of the Treasury, Román Rodríguez said people need to fly with the least possible risk.

He said: “We need people who get on the plane to do so with the least possible risk of infecting others or becoming infected.”

The Canary Islands emerged relatively unscathed from the coronavirus pandemic that has gripped the globe.

The Canaries have only recorded 160 deaths since the crisis began.

Tourism chiefs have said that because of the country’s low death and case rates, they want the islands treated like a “world safety lab”.

They are also hoping that the Canaries will be one of the first regions open to tourists if Spain decides to opt for a phased basis.

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Mr Rodriguez said in a video call with the Spanish government that there needs to be measures in place for “air health security”.

He added that economic activity in the Canary Islands is highly dependent on air traffic and “we need that mobility to be safe.”

Mr Rodriguez also said that carrying out the tests was essential as using masks would not be enough.

He also said that removing middle seats on planes and social distancing is not possible economically.

The vice president considered that tests at source are technically possible and, although they are expensive right now, the private sector – hoteliers and airlines – would be interested in seeking coordination mechanisms with the public sector to make them possible.

He added: “If we reduce the risk of contagion, we will quickly regain people’s trust, which is the key to activating air mobility.”

So far, hoteliers have backed the move who have pointed out that 35 percent of the GDP in the Canaries is linked to tourism, as well as 70,000 jobs in hotels and apartments.

Because the Canary Islands are predominantly a tourist destination, Mr Rodriquez has asked the European Union to treat the Canaries differently when it comes to the distribution of resources.

Tenerife received the most visitors out of all the Canaries last year with almost six million visitors.

Gran Canaria came in second with 4.3 million holidaymakers last year.

The travel and tourism GDP amounted to 16 billion euros in the region in 2018.

The Canaries are just off the northwest coast of Africa, meaning that they are perfect for winter breaks.

Additional reporting by Rita Sobot

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Categories
Travel

EasyJet to cut up to 30% of its staff

The UK’s biggest budget airline is to follow British Airways in cutting up to 30 per cent of its workforce.

As many as 4,500 of easyJet‘s estimated 15,000 staff could lose their jobs.

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As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, easyJet says it does not expect passenger demand to return to 2019 levels until 2023.

The Luton-based airline plans to cut one-seventh of its planned fleet of Airbus jets, to 302 aircraft by the end of 2021.

But job cuts will be much deeper. In the next few days easyJet will begin consultations with unions on reducing staff numbers by up to 30 per cent, as well as improving productivity.

Johan Lundgren, chief executive of easyJet, said the airline would “optimise the network and our bases”.

He said: “We realise that these are very difficult times and we are having to consider very difficult decisions which will impact our people, but we want to protect as many jobs as we can for the long term.

“We remain focused on doing what is right for the company and its long-term health and success, following the swift action we have taken over the last three months to meet the challenges of the virus.”

While easyJet will resume flying on 15 June, on a small number of mainly domestic routes, the re-start is being hampered by government action – in particular the UK’s plan to quarantine all arriving passengers from 8 June, which has depleted demand for the summer.

However, the airline said: “Bookings for winter are well ahead of the equivalent point last year, which includes customers who are rebooking coronavirus-disrupted flights for later dates.”

Later this year easyJet was planning to celebrate its 25th year since Stelios Haji-Ioannou founded the carrier from a temporary building at Luton airport.

From a single route between Luton and Glasgow, easyJet grew to a pan-European giant carrying around 90 million passengers in 2019.

Its biggest hub is Gatwick. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have both said they may leave the Sussex airport.

The general secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) has condemned the job cuts as “a real kick in the teeth”.

Brian Strutton said: “easyJet staff will be shocked at the scale of this announcement and only two days ago staff got a ‘good news’ message from their boss with no mention of job losses.”

“Those staff have taken pay cuts to keep the airline afloat and this is the treatment they get in return.”

“Given easyJet is a British company, the UK is its strongest market and it has had hundreds of millions in support from the UK taxpayer, I can safely say that we will need a lot of convincing that easyJet needs to make such dramatic cuts.

“Indeed, easyJet’s own projections, though on the pessimistic side, point to recovery by 2023, so this is a temporary problem that doesn’t need this ill-considered knee-jerk reaction.”

BA has already announced plans to cut 12,000 of its 42,000 staff, and to change the employment terms of remaining employees.

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Categories
Travel

How to avoid rental car pitfalls

Car rental is a ferociously competitive industry. I have just Googled “cheap car rental Palma airport” and have been offered a vehicle for just 27p per day through Do You Spain. Not bad for unlimited use of an asset that is worth £10,000 to explore the beautiful Island of Mallorca.

This deal is not quite as good as it seems. When I made a test booking for 1 August 2020, the price for 24 hours went up to £13. I must, though, pay €90 (£81) for a full tank of petrol, and even if the rental car staff are scrupulous about applying the right refund, it will be subject to a “Fuel Service Charge” of between €25 and €31 (£22-£28). So the cost has already roughly trebled. Oh, and there is an “excess” for any damage of up to €1,050 (£942) – while the car has insurance, I have to meet a huge potential bill.

Even if I am prepared to take this risk, I am warned: “You may need to purchase the supplier’s insurance on collection,” which will cost me €42 (£38). So the potential cost before I have driven an inch could be about six times the originally quoted sum, and around 300 times that fabled 27p.

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