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.

Download the new Independent Premium app

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

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.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Travel

Travel industry’s warning on new quarantine rules as loopholes emerge

Priti Patel has announced the unprecedented measure of requiring travellers to the UK to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.

Introducing an open-ended quarantine plan to begin on 8 June, the home secretary 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.”

Download the new Independent Premium app

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

Ms Patel added: “This is absolutely not about booking holidays.”

The UK travel industry reacted furiously, accusing the home secretary of wiping out any further bookings for 2020 holidays.

Derek Jones, UK managing director of the upmarket Kuoni holiday firm, tweeted: “It’s not about going on holiday right now. Booking holidays is fine!

“On the day that 1,000s more jobs are lost, the politicians still can’t resist sticking the boot in.”

The chief executive of Manchester Airports Group, which has handled tens of thousands of repatriated British travellers over the past two months, was equally blunt.

Charlie Cornish described the move as “a brick wall to the recovery of the UK aviation and tourism industries, with huge consequences for UK jobs and GDP”.

The airport boss said: “The move will seriously jeopardise the long-term future of the sector and put tens of thousands of jobs, and billions of pounds of economic value, at risk.”

The apparently tough new Home Office rules stipulate a £1,000 fixed penalty for skipping self-isolation in England. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will impose their own fines for breaches of quarantine.

Yet travellers keen to avoid the new measures can either arrive by midnight on 7 June or choose between two “Dublin dodges”.

Any UK-bound passenger can easily circumvent the obligation to isolate for two weeks by travelling via the Irish capital.

As a member of the Common Travel Area, Ireland has exemption from UK quarantine – alongside the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

Ireland has its own quarantine requirement of 14 days in self-isolation for incoming travellers. But Ireland’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) waives the rule for passengers en route to the UK.

The first “Dublin dodge” is to book a flight from a foreign country to the Irish capital on Aer Lingus with an immediate connection on the same airline to a UK airport – primarily Heathrow.

Alternatively, the traveller can touch down at Dublin airport and declare an intention to travel immediately to Northern Ireland on a direct bus from Dublin airport.

The airport authority says: “HSE rules for arriving passengers do not apply if you are briefly stopping over at the airport on your way to another country [or] travelling onwards to Northern Ireland.”

At present the Northern Ireland Executive does not allow leisure trips, saying: “No-one may leave their home without reasonable excuse.” Transit to Great Britain for leisure purposes does not count.

But in anticipation of lockdown rules being eased across Great Britain and the island of Ireland, one short-break specialist has already announced plans to exploit the loopholes via Dublin.

Mike Wooldridge, founder of Flyaway Weekends, said: “We can see a real demand for short-notice travel once restrictions are slackened, and are already looking at offers that divert via Dublin so we’re ready to help plan weekend breaks as demand starts to return.”

A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “Anyone travelling from Ireland will be exempt.

“However, given the high levels of compliance we have seen to date, we expect that the majority of people will do the right thing and abide by these measures.”

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Travel

Portugal to reopen beaches next month in bid to regain tourists

As southern European countries begin a battle to win back tourists, Portugal has said it will re-open beaches from 6 June.

The prime minister, Antonio Costa, said that sunbathers will need to comply with social distancing rules, which in Portugal require 1.5m of separation.

With the distance rule, the capacity of beaches will be reduced – but sunseekers will be able to download an app that will enable them to see where space remains.

Download the new Independent Premium app

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

Sports involving two or more people will be banned as restrictions to control coronavirus are imposed.

The government-run change of heritage hotels known as pousadas are planning to open in mid-June, but others might be open as early as 1 June.

There is likely to be a mandatory 24-hour buffer between the departure of guests and when their rooms can be occupied once more.

The Portuguese announcement is part of a surge in activity by southern European nations who are desperate to rescue what they can from the summer season.

Italy and Spain have announced that they will be ready for tourists in July.

Greece has had a low number of deaths, but it is also keen to kick-start its tourism industry – which accounts for at least 10 per cent of the economy.

Harry Theocharis, the Greek minister of tourism, told the BBC’s Coronavirus Newscast, that the Parthenon in Athens has just re-opened.

He called for a quarantine-free deal with the UK so that returning travellers to Britain do not need to self-isolate for two weeks, saying: “We feel this is the time to remove as many of the barriers as possible.”

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Travel

Coronavirus: Traveling now is like nothing I've seen before


Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of Microsoft News or Microsoft. MSN Lifestyle Voices features first-person essays and stories from diverse points of view. Click here to see more Voices content from MSN Lifestyle, Health, Travel and Food.

a man sitting in a car: A passenger looks at his phone while waiting aboard a United Airlines plane before taking off from George Bush Intercontinental Airport on May 11, 2020 in Houston, Texas.

I’ve been a correspondent at CNN for three decades and can conservatively estimate I have been on at least 2,000 flights in that time. I’ve been to all 50 states while covering stories for CNN, and none of them fewer than five times. So it doesn’t surprise anyone who knows me well that I’m still flying, staying in hotels, and renting cars while covering stories that are affecting all of us during this outbreak of the coronavirus.

We are doing this while taking as many precautions as possible. Getting infected and then getting somebody else sick would be extremely upsetting. But of course, my colleagues and I feel very strongly that we have an obligation to cover the news around the country so our viewers stay informed during these difficult times. And a question I am very frequently being asked is: What is it like to be constantly traveling at a time like this? My initial answer is: It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

I covered the California primary on March 3. The first cases of coronavirus had begun to infect people in the US, and a few voters wearing masks came into the Sacramento polling place where we were doing our live reports. It was very early on in this crisis, and the sight of masks was still unusual; but I was certain presidential politics would soon no longer be the biggest story on CNN.

I flew from Sacramento to Seattle to cover the tragedy that was unfolding at the initial epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in this country — the Life Care Center nursing home in Kirkland, Washington. From that point on, I’ve been traveling to report this crisis. Over the last two months, I’ve been to 15 states, covering stories ranging from the tragically high death toll in Navajo Nation, to houses of worship holding services that violate state laws, to meat plants shutting down because hundreds of their workers are getting infected. If it were a movie, what I’ve seen would seem dystopian. But there are so many good people doing heroic things. And that has given me faith. 

Almost immediately, I saw the numbers of passengers on planes plummet. The most people I’ve seen on any flight over the last two months has been about 70 on a Delta Boeing 757 that seats 199 people. But most of the planes I’ve flown on have had fewer than 30 passengers. On a Delta regional jet I took from Cincinnati back home to Atlanta there were five passengers on board a plane that seats 76 people. 

I


a man standing next to a car: Masks are now the norm, on cabin crew and passengers.


© Gary Tuchman/CNN
Masks are now the norm, on cabin crew and passengers.


n early February, none of the flight attendants I saw had masks. And very few of the passengers did. But gradually, more and more of the cabin crew and the passengers started wearing them. And now, masks are mandated or strongly recommended, depending on the airline. Each carrier does things a bit differently; but having flown Delta the most over the last few months, here is what I’ve seen on those flights: There are no longer carts going through the aisles, and there is no alcohol, coffee, or soft drinks being served. There are no meals being offered, in coach or first class. You are advised to bring your own food or drinks on the plane. Water is given out by request and sometimes cookies or other small snacks. What is always being made available to passengers are packets of Purell. 

Delta is currently not assigning people to the middle seats. I’ve also been flying Southwest, and that airline doesn’t have assigned seating, but only sells the number of tickets that enable you to avoid sitting in a middle seat. So, while you may not be six feet away from the person on the aisle if you’re by the window, at least you have nobody right next to you. (Unless it’s your companion and you want to sit next to them.) During flight announcements, you are often encouraged to wash your hands, and you are given the prudent advice that in case you need to use oxygen masks, you should take off your current mask.

Boarding the flight has also changed. Before this all began, you boarded by zones; based on a combination of frequent flyer status, price you paid for the ticket, and airline algorithms. Now, boarding is done like it used to be decades ago. The Delta agents start with the back of the plane and work their way to the front. (First class still gets to board at any point.) Because the planes have so few people, the boarding process is very quick, and for that reason, the planes I’ve been on have more often than not left the gate prior to the scheduled time.

After the planes arrive and pull into the jetway, passengers are advised to remember their social distancing when they walk off the plane. I have not seen anybody who has purposely crowded into anyone’s space. As a matter of fact, I’ve seen almost uniform politeness and awareness of social distancing on each flight I’ve been on. I have certainly noticed that people look at each other on the plane with a bit of uneasiness, and I know passengers wonder why the others on the plane are traveling. There is indeed a strange vibe while you’re on such a relatively empty aircraft, with everyone wearing masks except when you’re drinking water or eating your snacks. 



a couple of people that are standing in a room: No luck at McCarran -- the airport slots were cordoned off.


© Gary Tuchman/CNN
No luck at McCarran — the airport slots were cordoned off.


But in kind of a strange way, the whole flying experience is easier. In addition to having far more room on the plane, the TSA security lines in many of the airports I’ve been in are virtually empty. Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is the busiest airport in the world in terms of passenger traffic. On one weekday afternoon recently, I saw just two people waiting to go through the main security checkpoint. On a comparable afternoon just three months ago, you would have seen hundreds of people. The airport terminals themselves often look like quiet bus stations. Most of the stores and restaurants I’ve seen are temporarily closed. In the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, I saw a sight that made sense in the context of this pandemic, but still seemed stunning: all the airport slot machines were off limits and roped off.

Just as jarring as the airports and airplanes are the hotels. Every place I’ve stayed has been mostly empty. In Iowa, I stayed in a 195-room hotel that only had five rooms sold. And my satellite truck engineer, photographer, and I had three of them. The manager said that earlier in the week, there was only one guest. Most hotels where I’ve stayed no longer have housekeeping service during your stay, and restaurants, bars, and gyms are closed. But the employees I have talked to have been excessively kind and helpful. They are grateful they have jobs which means they are grateful for every guest who stays with them.

The rental car agencies are also suffering. On a trip to Kansas City during the middle of April, I hopped on the rental car shuttle that serves all the rental companies doing business at the airport. The driver of the shuttle told me he had been working for six hours and I was only the third person he had on the bus. He said there was one other bus in operation, and I saw that driver when we got to the rental cars. He told me that over a four-hour period he had driven two customers.

Over the last three months, I have been to big cities like New York and Los Angeles. Medium-size cities like Kansas City and Omaha. And small cities like Waterloo, Iowa, and Gallup, New Mexico, mostly with producer Leslie Perrot and photographer Ken Tillis. What we have noticed is virtually everywhere we’ve been, whether it’s a grocery store, a Target or Walmart, or a gas station convenience store, people are almost always abiding by social distancing. It’s become second nature in all parts of America we’ve visited, no matter how severe their coronavirus outbreak. 

There is absolutely a far higher percentage of people wearing masks in public in big cities like New York and Los Angeles than there is in Mankato, Minnesota (where we just did a story on pig farmers), but when I walked into the Hy-Vee grocery store in Mankato, everyone was conscientiously standing at least six feet from the nearest person.

There is no end in sight to this crisis, which means there is no end in sight to our coverage of it. For me, that means more flying, hotel nights, and rental cars during this pandemic. I will continue to be as careful as possible when it comes to my health and the health of every person I come near. But just like when I’ve been in war zones, in hurricanes, and in riots, this is my job. And my duty.

WATCH: Is this the end of cheap air travel?


  • a person standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera

    How life will change for flight attendants
    The next time you fly, things could be very different. Buzz60’s Keri Lumm has more.

    Buzz60 Logo
    Buzz60

  • a man standing in front of an airplane

    Here's how the coronavirus could change air travel
    AvPORTS CEO Jorge Roberts joins "Squawk on the Street" to discuss what changes airports could see to keep passengers safe once travel resumes.

    CNBC Logo
    CNBC

  • a large crowd of people at a park: People cool off and sunbathe by the Trocadero Fountains next to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, on July 25, 2019 as a new heatwave hits the French capital. - After all-time temperature records were smashed in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands on July 24, Britain and the French capital Paris could on July 25 to see their highest ever temperatures. (Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP)    (Photo credit should read BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images)

    Escape to Paris through these films
    Visit the City of Light without leaving your house by enjoying these 11 perfectly Parisian movies

    CNN Logo
    CNN


CNN Logo
Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Transport

ATPCO automates coronavirus waivers for travel agents

ATPCO has developed an automated solution enabling airlines
to override existing fare rules and waive change fees in the GDSs.

The solution will go live in the Sabre, Amadeus and
Travelport GDSs for American Airlines tickets on June 7. Other airlines are
also expected to use the technology. 

As a result, travel agencies won’t have to manually process
the voluminous fee waivers and ticket validity extensions that airlines have implemented due to the Covid-19 crisis.

“It is incredibly time-consuming for each airline and agency
to manually process changes to tickets,” Eloise Rorke, ATPCO’s lead for product
development, wrote in a recent blog. “Each airline was trying to come up with their
own solution and nothing was working the same way across all channels. ATPCO
saw this happening and, as a service organization to the industry, started
looking for ways to help.”

In an email, American spokeswoman Rachel Warner said the
carrier helped champion development of the new solution alongside ATPCO and
other technology partners. She said that when it goes live, the solution will
restore a sense of normalcy for agencies. 

Following the launch, the GDSs will be able to automatically
price American’s free change fee for impacted tickets, meaning agencies won’t
have to manually review policies against each ticket. 

At present, American is allowing one free change for all
tickets purchased by May 31 for travel between March and September. Validity on
such tickets has also been extended through 2021, In addition, ticket validity
has been extended through 2021 for all unused ticket that were slated to expire
between this March and this September.

Airline-owned ATPCO uploads fare data into the GDSs. American,
Delta and United are part of the ownership group.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Travel

UK will only have room for 1 in 10 passengers on public transport, says minister

The transport secretary has urged employees returning to work to avoid public transport, and warned that the government will “take steps” if the system gets too overcrowded.

On the BBC’s Today programme, Grant Shapps said: “As we get 100 per cent of trains, buses and public transport running, we will only have, with social distancing in mind, room for one in 10 passengers.

“We have to appeal to people to look for alternative – and ideally active – forms of transport.

Download the new Independent Premium app

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

“We must ensure that we don’t bring this disease back by having people too close together.

“We appeal to the public to stay alert on public transport, ideally to avoid using it.”

Mr Shapps said that enforcement would be done initially “through gentle advice”.

He said: “We’ve got a big team of marshallers going out through Network Rail, Transport for London, we’ve got the British Transport Police out there, to remind people that we don’t want to see platforms crowded.

“There will be fleeting moments when people are obviously within that two metres but we ask for the public’s cooperation.

“We would have to run seven times the normal level of services to make it OK and the network can’t physically fit that number of trains and buses in.”

But the transport secretary warned that the government will “take steps” if overcrowding ensues, saying: “If we see the R number go up again, and particularly above one, we will have to take steps.

“It means going back to staying at home.”

Mr Shapps was also asked about the government’s attitude to overseas holidays.

On Tuesday, the health secretary said: “It is unlikely that lavish international holidays are going to be possible for this summer.” Matt Hancock agreed with Phillip Schofield on ITV’s This Morning that summer was essentially cancelled, saying: “I think that’s likely to be the case, yes.”

Mr Shapps said: “Right now, you can’t stay somewhere else overnight. And internationally the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice is: you must not travel.

Shape Created with Sketch.
The most stressful Tube stations






















right Created with Sketch.



Shape Created with Sketch.
The most stressful Tube stations

“A government minister can’t be the travel agent in this case. We don’t know how the virus will respond.”

On Sunday the prime minister announced that arrivals to the UK would face 14 days of self-isolation. The quarantine rules are unlikely to apply to people coming from France or Ireland.

The transport secretary had been reported to have been strongly opposed to the policy, even to the extent of telling airline bosses that the idea might be quietly dropped.

But on Today he backed mandatory quarantine, saying: ”I do think that it’s right that as we get this under control in the United Kingdom we don’t reimport it.”

He said it would come in at the end of May.

Ryanair has announced it will restart flights at scale from July, while Tui maintains it is ready to commence package holidays from 15 June.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Travel

Coronavirus live updates: 8 'top' vaccines being accelerated; Fauci warns of 'needless suffering'; will pandemic claim major US airline?




  • a large crowd of people at a park: People cool off and sunbathe by the Trocadero Fountains next to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, on July 25, 2019 as a new heatwave hits the French capital. - After all-time temperature records were smashed in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands on July 24, Britain and the French capital Paris could on July 25 to see their highest ever temperatures. (Photo by Bertrand GUAY / AFP)    (Photo credit should read BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images)

    Escape to Paris through these films
    Visit the City of Light without leaving your house by enjoying these 11 perfectly Parisian movies

    CNN Logo
    CNN

  • The surreal experience of flying during the pandemic

    The surreal experience of flying during the pandemic
    Demand for air travel has all but evaporated with the arrival of coronavirus. But airlines are still flying. And now, passengers have to wear masks. Here’s what it’s like to take a flight from Washington, D.C. into Atlanta, the world’s busiest airport.

    The Washington Post Logo
    The Washington Post

  • This is what it's like to travel across Europe right now

    This is what it's like to travel across Europe right now
    From Athens to Brussels to London, CNN's International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson documents once familiar, now unusual, travel across Europe during the Covid-19 pandemic.

    CNN Logo
    CNN


USA TODAY Logo
Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Travel

What the coronavirus crisis could mean for your summer holiday plans

Will my package break still give peace of mind? What the coronavirus crisis could mean for your summer holiday plans

  • Tour operator Tui says beach holidays will be cancelled until at least June 11 
  • While Jet2 has already cancelled holidays until at least June 17 
  • Neil Simpson explores options in case your holiday doesn’t go ahead
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Every week our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at an important holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week, he looks at the prospects for package holidays this summer.

Question marks hang over millions of summer holidays this weekend as hotels, airlines and travel firms wait to discover when the world will reopen for business.

Until last week, Tui, the world’s largest tour operator, said it was hoping to start taking travellers to the sun again from May 14. Now it says beach holidays will be cancelled until at least June 11 and its ocean and river cruises won’t restart until June 30.

Leap of faith: Summer holidays may yet go ahead, but there are options if yours is not as originally booked

Jet2 has already cancelled holidays until at least June 17, and a new wave of cancellations from smaller package-holiday providers is expected to be announced in coming days.

Optimists in the travel industry say they hope that trips booked for the summer school holidays in late July and August will still take place as planned, though their best advice is to prepare for revised flight times or being switched to ‘similar standard’ accommodation if some hotels stay closed. This could even mean similar hotels in different countries altogether if, say, Greece recovers far faster than Spain, which has been one of the countries hit hardest by the crisis.

But it is equally important to have a strategy ready in case your holiday does get cancelled.

If it happens, the easy option is to rebook any time up to and including next summer. The big advantage in doing this is that if your original package holiday was ATOL-protected – part of the Government-backed scheme that looks after your money – then your next one will offer the same assurances.

Rebooking means you’ll also have a break in the sun to look forward to once the crisis ends.

If you can’t find a suitable alternative holiday straight away, your tour firm may offer you a voucher so you can book a similar-value trip within the next year. However, the risk with this is that if your tour operator goes bust, the voucher is likely to become worthless.

That’s why ABTA, the UK travel trade association, has created an alternative option called a Refund Credit Note (RCN). This has the flexibility of a voucher and its value can be used to book another trip as soon as you find one you like. Crucially, an RCN will be backed by the ABTA/ATOL safety nets so its value can be repaid if your tour firm goes under.

Until last week, Tui, the world’s largest tour operator, said it was hoping to start taking travellers to the sun again from May 14. Now it says beach holidays will be cancelled until at least June 11

It also has an ‘end date’ by when it can be exchanged for cash if you subsequently decide not to rebook at all.

Many of the first RCNs have July 31 as an end date, but firms can choose their own. Find out exactly what you should look for in a Refund Credit Note at abta.com under the heading ‘Coronavirus advice for customers’.

Finally, if your package holiday is cancelled and you simply want your money back, you are entitled to it. The rules say refunds should be paid within 14 days of cancellation, although many travel firms are struggling to find the resources to comply with that at the moment.

ABTA and consumer group Which? suggest a month is likely to be a more realistic timeframe, and advise making a note of when and how you request your refund so the company can’t try to avoid paying it later.

Get the latest information on the claims process at which.co.uk under ‘Coronavirus outbreak Q&A: advice for travellers’.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Travel

‘People have to get home some way’: The flights still running during a global lockdown

The last time I was on a plane was five weeks ago.

The aircraft was an Egyptair Boeing 777 from Cairo to Heathrow; the ticket, bought a couple of hours before departure, reflected “distress purchase” rates. I paid nearly £700 for four airborne hours between the Egyptian capital and London.

The foreign secretary had just warned against overseas travel because of the coronavirus crisis. I did not begrudge Egypt’s national carrier the cash: it was providing an essential service. And since my northwest, homebound trip across Europe, the whole aviation enterprise has been heading south, financially speaking.

Download the new Independent Premium app

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

Or has it?

“Our passenger division has been moving people around on private jets, on aircraft like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and even some 777-300s,” says Matt Purton.

“We’ve been flying to every continent and with every kind of passenger you can imagine.”

Mr Purton is in his office in Surbiton, southwest London. As commercial director of Air Charter Service (ACS), he is indisputably a key worker.

The bread-and-butter work of ACS is finding the right planes for organisations who need them. Sports teams, political campaigners and musicians often need a bit of extra lift beyond the standard commercial airlines.

In 2015, the firm took the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra on a European tour by Airbus A319, followed a year later by flying Iron Maiden around the world in a Boeing 747 branded Ed Force One.

Those gigs have ceased for a while, but the need urgently to move people thousands of miles at short notice has never been stronger.

Purton and his colleagues have spent the past few weeks helping people who, through misfortune rather than misadventure, inadvertently find themselves on the wrong side of the world.

“We’ve done some 777s out of southern Africa back into the US, into Brazil for a mining company, and also we’ve just done a Virgin Australia 777 out of New Zealand via Hong Kong to Paris.

“If you’re a planespotter it’s been quite an interesting time, but if you’re a passenger I imagine you’ve just been glad to get home.”

While some flights have been organised on behalf of governments, most are privately chartered.

“We’ve taken some people out of India and repatriated them via Cairo to Salt Lake City. That flight took just under 14 hours, nonstop, on a brand new Dreamliner. That’s the longest charter we have ever done.”

ACS has also been working with the cruise industry: repatriating passengers whose vessels have ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time, due to ports refusing to allow them ashore. 

The firm has also been flying cruise line crew to their destinations. “They have to get home some way. The normal way they would use is commercial flights and connect through one of the hubs in the Middle East or on the west coast of America or in Asia. They just don’t exist, so we’re chartering planes flying nonstop.”

According to Eamonn Brennan, the director general of the air traffic coordinator, Eurocontrol: “Charter and business aviation had the biggest share of flights on Monday 13 April with 42 per cent of the overall movements.

As you might imagine, seeking a large passenger aircraft is something of a buyer’s market right now. Mr Purton says: “It’s been great to be able to get people to where they want to go using aircraft that aren’t normally available to us, or that normally cost a lot more than they do right now.”

Some of the planes he has been using belong to Egyptair. I hope he negotiated a better deal than I did.

Source: Read Full Article

Categories
Cruises

Grounded cabin crew share their favourite Aussie food finds

Sadly, many airline staff around the country have found themselves grounded in the wake of coronavirus.

Hopefully it won’t be long before we see them in the sky again.

In the meantime, a number of Virgin Australia cabin crew – who are arguably some of the most well travelled people in the country – kindly shared with us the best meals they’ve discovered on their interstate overnighters.

See below for a little foodie inspiration. It might come in handy when we’re allowed out to explore our backyard again.

Read more stories like this on escape.com.au

Bridgitte Nelson

I’m a bit of a sucker for Tasmania. On overnights in any other city I generally opt for cheap eats such as market/street food … but whenever I’m in Hobart I absolutely can’t pass up the chance to treat myself with a steak at Rockwall Bar and Grill. Now I don’t want to talk it up too much but this is the BEST steak I’ve ever had in my many years of travelling around the world – right here in our backyard. Who’d have thought?!

RELATED: How to stop frequent flyer points expiring

Kaitlin Jones

All I can say is the best burger I’ve ever had has to be the famous Ballina Burger at The Beach Grill and Salt Bar in Ballina Airport. Ask any crew member – we wouldn’t turn this down

RELATED: What this map says about you

Edwina Ingham

The Mindil Markets in Darwin – the atmosphere is electric as locals and tourists wander the packed stalls and sample from the surprisingly large array of cuisines on offer. Personally, nothing beats a delicious authentic laksa while watching the sunset over Mindil Beach with your crew.

Tara Perkin

I absolutely love Western Australia, there’s a little brekky spot the crew loved going to called Sixteen Ounces in Victoria Park. I can highly recommend the smashed avo.

Tess Norris

It’s hard to name one place but I’ll go with my most recent because that was delicious and had amazing sunset views over the Indian Ocean. The restaurant is called The Shorehouse in Perth and I ordered the blue swimmer crab and prawn linguine, tomato, saffron, garlic, chilli, pangrattato along with a cheeky cocktail (Frosty Fruit granita – perfect on a summers day). Big thumbs up!

Tess Norris is looking forward to getting back in the air again.Source:Supplied

Tash Styles

The sausage rolls from the Rottnest Island Bakery are AMAZING, the best I’ve had!

My new favourite in Hobart for a coffee is the Auslan Cafe, a 15 minute picturesque walk from the city, where all the staff are super friendly, and also deaf – it’s great coffee, and you learn how to place your order in sign language!

Kara Le

I love Happy Boy in Brisbane. The prawn and pork wontons in chilli broth are incredible and they have a thoughtfully curated wine list to complement the dishes.

Ray Pastoors

There’s a place in Darwin called Alfonsino’s that a few of us crew love. They make the best pizza from a golden wood fire pizza oven. At times, they also do pasta and the three cheese gnocchi definitely shouldn’t be missed.

Originally published on escape . com.au

trending in travel


Source: Read Full Article