Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronavirus – a guide to the latest travel news and medical advice

For the latest updates on the Coronavirus situation, make sure you are following the GTM Twitter account – details here: http://ow.ly/QYmh50yghXK

To see how Global Travel Management are ensuring clients’ travel plans are managed smoothly, despite the disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak, please see here:
https://gtm.uk.com/how-were-tackling-coronavirus-for-business-travellers/

UPDATE: 22 MAY 16:45



UPDATE: 15 MAY 16:45

UPDATE: 12 MAY 16:30

There are reports that the UK Government will instigate a quarantine policy on arriving passengers, from early next months – an announcement heavily criticised by IAG‘s Willie Walsh. Elsewhere…

UPDATE: 8 MAY 16:30

Virgin Atlantic has announced plans to cut jobs. KLM mandates face masks. Finland opens borders. IATA oppose the blocking of middle seats, favouring face masks. Eurowings asked passengers for new ideas. Qatar increases operations. Hong Kong Airport introduces full body disinfection booths.

UPDATE: 4 MAY 08:00

Travel providers continue to make plans and adjustments in the on-going fight against the pandemic. Airports are sharing plans and results, hotel groups are enhancing their product and offerings, while airlines and rail companies continue to update their arrangements.

And, finally, on this day in 2018, Heathrow Airport celebrated “Star Wars Day” with an announcement of several new destinations, from Tatooine to the Death Star…

UPDATE: 28 APRIL 10:00

Airlines have announced further suspensions and arranged further repatriation flights; the UK government is discussing passenger quarantine; Gatwick issues a gloomy prediction; while The Londoner’s opening is postponed.

UPDATE: 24 APRIL 16:00

IATA announce the end of cheap travel and predict the UK will see 140m fewer flights; airlines continue to suspend services; airlines mandate use of masks and PPE; while airlines and hotel groups offer further concessions to customers.

UPDATE: 21 APRIL 17:00

Global Travel Management continues to publish regular tweets, every day, to update followers on all aspects of business travel, including the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. You can follow GTM’s Twitter account here – @GlobalTravelMgt h– meanwhile, here are some recent tweets:

UPDATE: 17 APRIL 17:00

Airlines have taken further actions amid warnings of revenues diminishing significantly, while another rail company is seeking government help and a U.S. airline has taken an innovative approach to reducing onboard touchpoints.

UPDATE: 15 APRIL 12:00

Airlines, airports, hotel groups and national governments all continue to react to the global pandemic.

UPDATE: 13 APRIL 18:00

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, is taking full advantage of the aircraft downtime as a result of the coronavirus pandemic to conduct an extensive maintenance and cabin refresh programme.

UPDATE: 12 APRIL 15:00

Air Asia and Air France KLM have been reported in the news this weekend:

UPDATE: 11 APRIL 10:00

Brussels Airlines has released footage of the process of storing their fleet of aircraft, now grounded at Brussels Airport. Each A330 takes about 400 man hours to store and the airline’s Maintenance and Engineering teams meticulously follow Airbus’ instructions to ensure they’re properly and appropriately parked up. Thirty employees are now working, full-time performing weekly inspections and turning the aircraft wheels every day to ensure even wearing, despite the weight of the aircraft.

© 2020 Brussels Airlines

UPDATE: 10 APRIL 16:00

Airlines continue to reduce services and make other savings, while Stansted has opened a testing centre and repatriation flights are planned for stranded travellers in India.

UPDATE: 9 APRIL 12:00 NOON

As airlines reduce their schedules further, Airbus has reacted by cutting planned production. Meanwhile, Marriott Bonvoy joins the increasing number of travel providers taking decisions to protect and extend earned status.

UPDATE: 8 APRIL 15:00

Airlines continue to adapt schedules and aircraft, while an airport in London opens up a drive-through coronavirus testing facility.

UPDATE: 7 APRIL 15:00

Airlines and airports are taking further measures to combat Covid-19, while Google and Etihad have announced technology advances.

UPDATE: 6 APRIL 11:00

Airlines have been told to give prompt refunds, more airlines reduce flight schedules and extend policies, rescue flights from India commence, one UK airport bucks the European trend and robots are deployed to help with cleaning…

UPDATE: 4 APRIL 12:00

Airlines and hotel companies continue to make changes to their schedules and services in reaction to decreased demand in the light of the coronavirus outbreak.

UPDATE: 3 APRIL 16:00

Airports Council International has issued a gloomy prediction for the length of the air travel crisis, but airlines, car hire companies and even museums have released better news.

UPDATE: 2 APRIL 11:45

Airlines continue to announce changes, cuts and suspensions as they continue to battle the effect of the coronavirus outbreak.

UPDATE: 1 APRIL 11:30

British, Chinese, Philippine and Singapore airlines adjust schedules, including routes to and from London, while the Indian Government launches an online resource for stranded foreign nationals and Virgin Australia donates toilet paper to charity:

UPDATE: 31 MARCH 15:00

More travel providers have suspended and reduced services and further restrictions have been announced:

UPDATE: 26 MARCH 09:15

Airlines and airports worldwide have continued to suspend and limit services, including:

UPDATE: 24 MARCH 16:00

Airlines, cities and national governments have applied further restrictions:

Meanwhile, in India:

But, yet again, there are some, small pieces of good news:

UPDATE: 20 MARCH 10:00

Several more governments have issued cross-border and internal movement restrictions:

  • Australia and New Zealand have barred foreign nationals from entering the country.
  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has issued a nationwide, 0700-2100 curfew on Sunday.
  • Malaysia is on a movement control order until 31 March.
  • The State of California has started a lockdown, which will remain in place until further notice.

Airlines and other travel providers have announced more suspensions and cancellations:

But there is also some news that is more positive:

UPDATE: 19 MARCH 09:00

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has issued an Exceptional Travel Advisory Notice. The FCO advises British nationals against all but essential international travel

As the Covid-19 outbreak continues, more travel suppliers have released information about their short-term plans.

But there’s also some good news:

In Venice, the city’s canals are reported to have cleared up for the first time in many years due to the drop in visitors.

UPDATE: 17 MARCH 11:05

Last night, the European Commission proposed a ban on travel to the European Union. This was covered on the GTM website, here.

Meanwhile, a number of travel providers have made further announcements, including:

UPDATE: 16 MARCH 11:00

The impact of the Covid-19 outbreak continues to be seen across airlines. Aer Lingus and Delta have released statements aimed to reduce the volume of calls to their call centres. While British Airways has warned of potential job cuts.

Several more airlines have announced reductions in their services:

  • Air New Zealand will reduce its long-haul capacity by 85% per cent over the coming months.
  • American Airlines will implement “a phased suspension of additional long-haul international flights from the US” from today.
  • Emirates has suspended flights between Dubai and Italy.
  • Finnair will cut capacity by 90%.
  • Low-cost carrier Jet 2 has suspended all flights to Spain.
  • Low-cost carrier Norwegian has announced it will ground 40% of its long-haul fleet.
  • SAS has announced it will temporarily halt “most of its traffic” from today.

However, some airlines have made more positive announcements:

UPDATE: 15 MARCH 12:00

Further to the announcement that the United States has extended its travel ban (see below), the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has updated its travel advice for the United States, as follows:

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the USA, due to restrictions put in place by the US government with effect from 03:59 GMT 17 March in response to the outbreak of coronavirus (Covid-19) 

UPDATE: 14 MARCH 17:00

President Trump and Vice President Pence have extended the United States Schengen-area travel ban to include the United Kingdom and Repulic of Ireland. Please see this breaking news story.

UPDATE: 13 MARCH 15:00

The travel industry continues to react to the coronavirus outbreak. An increaesing number of airlines are suspending services reflecting reduced demand, while several new travel restrictions have been put in place.

The following airlines have recently announced suspensions of service:

Some airlines have introduced relaxation to rules regarding change fees and cancellation fees:

Meanwhile, some governments have introduced increased visa restrictions:

  • India has suspended all tourist visas and e-visas.
  • Thailand has suspended granting of visas on arrival to nationals of Bulgaria, Bhutan, China, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, India, Kazakhstan, Malta, Mexico, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan and Vanuatu.
  • The United States has imposed a temporary travel ban for travellers from 26 European countries.
  • Vietnam has suspended visa-free travel for people from the UK, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Spain and Sweden.

UPDATE: 10 MARCH 12:00

Rail companies and airlines have announced further suspensions of services, fee waivers and details of cleaning and disinfection regimes. These include:

  • Amtrak issues guidance, waives fees and suspends New York-DC service – Amtrak has issued customer guidance and advice on preventative measures; waived change and cancellation fees on all tickets purchased before 30 April; and suspended its non-stop route between New York and Washington DC.
  • Cathay Pacific suspends Japan service – All Cathay Pacific flights between Hong Kong and Fukuoka, Nagoya, Sapporo, and Tokyo Haneda are suspended until 28 March.
  • Emirates announces enhanced cleaning and disinfection and fee waivers – Emirates has announced enhanced cleaning and disinfection procedures on all aircraft from Dubai and a newly-introduced waiver policy for all booked tickets issued until 31 March 2020.
  • Lufthansa Group plans 50% flight reductionsLufthansa Group has announced a plan to reduce its number of flights across the group by 50% and to examine the extent to which its entire A380 fleet can be temporarily decommissioned.
  • Qantas cuts international flights and grounds eight A380s – The Qantas Group has announced cuts to its international network which will see a 23% reduction in capacity until mid-September.

UPDATE: 6 MARCH 12:00

More airlines have announced cancellations, schedule changes and restrictions due to the on-going Covid-19 outbreak. These include:

  • Aeroflot suspends flights to Hong Kong Aeroflot will temporarily suspend flights from Moscow to Hong Kong amid growing fears over the spread of the coronavirus.
  • American Airlines suspends flights to Seoul American has suspended its daily operation between Seoul Incheon Airport and Dallas-Fort Worth Airport.
  • British Airways to waive flight change fees British Airways has announced it will waive flight change fees for customers who book until 16 March.
  • Delta suspends JFK-Milan Delta Air Lines has suspended its daily route between New York JFK and Milan Malpensa amid global concern over the spread of the coronavirus. The service is set to resume on 1 May. Delta’s daily flights from JFK and Atlanta to Rome remain unaffected.
  • Delta cuts Japan flights Delta Air Lines will reduce its weekly flying schedule to Japan until 30 April and suspend its summer seasonal service between Seattle and Osaka this year.
  • Delta waives change fees for bookings in March Delta Air Lines will waive change fees for all flights booked between 1 March and 31 March to any destinations the airline serves.
  • Finnair announces China cancellations and more frequency reductions Finnair will cancel all flights to mainland China (Guangzhou, Nanjing, Beijing Capital, Beijing Daxing, Shanghai and Xi’an) until 30 April 30. Daily flights to Seoul will be suspended from 9 March to 16 April. Throughout April it will fly to Hong Kong once daily rather than twice daily. It will also reduce its Osaka route from 12 to 10 weekly frequencies from 29 March to 24 October.
  • Finnair suspends all flights between Helsinki and Milan Finnair flights between Helsinki and Milan will be suspended between 9 March and 7 April, following an updated travel advisory from the Finnish Foreign Ministry on travel to Milan.
  • KLM cancels flights to Hong Kong and extends China flight suspensions KLM has adjusted its flights to mainland China and Hong Kong. KLM has suspended its services to Beijing and Shanghai until 28 March and to Chengdu, Hangzhou and Xiamen until 3 May. KLM is also offering flights to Hong Kong every other day instead of daily flights until 3 May.
  • Lufthansa Group airlines to suspend flights to Israel The Lufthansa Group has announced that all flights to Israel will be suspended from 8 March until 28 March due to an Israeli government travel ban.
  • Norwegian cuts transatlantic services Norwegian says it will cancel a total of 22 long-haul flights between 28 March and 5 May. Affected routes include London-New York (where the three daily departures will be reduced to two on some days), and services from Rome to Los Angeles, Boston and New York.
  • Vietnam Airlines suspends all South Korea flights Vietnam Airlines said it will temporarily suspend all flights between Vietnam and South Korea starting 5 March.
  • Virgin Atlantic waives flight change fees for March bookings Virgin Atlantic has announced it will not charge passengers a fee for changing flights for travel booked from Wednesday 4 March until Tuesday 31 March.

UPDATE: 2 MARCH 12:00

Several airlines have announced updates and changes due to the on-going Covid-19 outbreak. Here is a summary of some of the latest announcements:

  • British Airways reduces flights to Italy, Seoul and Singapore British Airways is “merging” a number of flights to Italy, Singapore and Seoul, as it reacts to a fall in demand called by coronavirus.
  • American Airlines suspends flights to Milan American Airlines has announced it is suspending flights to and from Milan, Italy from both New York (JFK) and Miami (MIA) from March until 25 April 2020.
  • Korean Air cuts international flights Korean Air has suspended and reduced flights to a number of international destinations due to the outbreak in South Korea.
  • Delta to cut flights to Seoul until end of April Delta is temporarily reducing flights it operates between the US and Seoul Incheon Airport.
  • Juneyao Airlines to delay the launch of three Europe routes Shanghai-based Juneyao Airlines will delay the launch of three new transcontinental routes from Shanghai to Dublin, Manchester and Reykjavik, all with a stop in Helsinki, which it initially planned to launch in late March this year.
  • Lufthansa Group to cut short-haul operations by “up to 25 per cent” Lufthansa Group says it will cut its short-haul operations in the coming weeks, “As a result of the current situation caused by the accelerated spread of the coronavirus”.
  • easyJet to halt recruitment and offer unpaid leave easyJet said that it had seen “a significant softening of demand and load factors into and out of our Northern Italian bases”, as well “slower demand across our other European markets”. The airline said that as a result it would be cancelling “some flights, particularly those into and out of Italy, while continuing to monitor the situation and adapting our flying programme to support demand”.

UPDATE: 26 FEBRUARY 14:01

The National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) has provided updated general advice for foreign travel and how individuals can help reduce the spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 outbreak and specific advice for those travelling to category one locations (Wuhan city and Hubei Province (China); Iran; Daegu or Cheongdo (South Korea); and any Italian town under containment measures) or category two locations (Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, north Italy, Japan, Laos, Macao, Malaysia, Myanmar, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam).

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office continues to publish travel advice to China South Korea, Italy and other destinations via its public pages.

The Department for Health and Social Care and Public Health England have published the latest public advice on Coronavirus (COVID-19) here and will update this page with the latest situation in the UK at 14:00 every day, until further notice.

UPDATE: 7 FEBRUARY 13:30

Virgin Atlantic has issued the following advice:

Due to the ongoing situation with the Coronavirus the following Governments have made the decision to restrict entry for foreign visitors who have travelled to China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau).

Customers due to travel to:

  • Antigua or Barbuda who have been to China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) in the last 28 days, will not be allowed to travel

Antiguan nationals are exempt from the restriction however will be subject to quarantine for 14 days on arrival if they have travelled to China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) in the last 28 days 

  • Montego Bay Jamaica who have been to China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) in the last 14 days, will not be allowed to travel

Jamaican nationals are exempt from the restriction however will be subject to quarantine for 14 days on arrival if they have travelled to China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) in the last 14 days

  • Tel Aviv Israel who have been to China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) in the last 14 days, will not be allowed to travel

Israeli nationals are exempt from the restriction however may be subject to quarantine on arrival if they have travelled to China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) in the last 14 days

  • Mumbai, Delhi India who have been to China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) in the last 14 days, will not be allowed to travel

Indian nationals are exempt from the restriction however may be subject to quarantine on arrival if they have travelled to China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) in the last 14 days

  • St. Lucia who have been to China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) in the last 14 days, will not be allowed to travel

St Lucia nationals are exempt from the restriction however will be subject to quarantine for 14 days on arrival if they have travelled to China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) in the last 14 days

  • Grenada who have been to China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) in the last 14 days, will not be allowed to travel

Grenada nationals are exempt from the restriction however will be subject to quarantine for 14 days on arrival if they have travelled to China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) in the last 14 days

  • Trinidad and Tobago who have been to China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) in the last 14 days, will not be allowed to travel

Trinidad and Tobago nationals are exempt from the restriction however may be subject to quarantine on arrival if they have travelled to China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) in the last 14 days.

Contact your GTM Account Manager for details of any refunds due on flights booked.

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office continues to offer the following advice:

1. The FCO advise against all travel to Hubei Province due to the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak.

2. The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China (not including Hong Kong and Macao). The British Consulates-General in Wuhan and Chongqing are currently closed. If you’re in China and able to leave, you should do so. The elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions may be at heightened risk.

3. The Chinese government continues to impose further restrictions on movement within China in response to the coronavirus outbreak. These restrictions include the closure of some provincial highways and inter-city high speed rail, tight control on entry and exit to villages and townships across the country, and restrictions on movement within some provinces, cities and municipalities including Chongqing, Zhejiang and Anhui. Some airlines, including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, have announced a suspension of flights to and from mainland China. Other commercial airlines are still operating, but it may become harder to access departure options over the coming weeks.

4. A number of countries have announced restrictions on entry by travellers from China in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Given the fast-changing situation, you should check the latest FCO travel advice (including entry requirements) for your destination and anywhere you are transiting through, and check with your airline before you travel.

UPDATE: 30 JANUARY 16:10

British Airways has issued a customer update confirming the planned end date of their current cancellations, in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The airline confirms that Shanghai and Beijing flights will be cancelled for all dates up to and including 29 February 2020. Flights to Hong Kong are unaffected.


British Airways issued a customer statement on 30 January, providing confirmation of the dates during which flights to mainland China will be cancelled.

UPDATE: 29 JANUARY 14:30

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office has issued the following, additional information for travellers to China:

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise against all travel to Hubei Province due to the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak. If you’re in this area and able to leave, you should do so.

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China (not including Hong Kong and Macao). The Chinese government continue to impose further restrictions on movement within China in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Some airlines, including British Airways, have suspended flights to and from mainland China. Other commercial airlines are still operating, but it may become harder over the coming weeks for those who wish to leave China to do so. If you feel that you may want to leave China soon, you should consider making plans to do so before any further restrictions may be imposed.

Due to increasing travel restrictions and difficulty accessing medical assistance, the FCO is working to make an option available for British nationals to leave Hubei Province. This may happen quickly and with short notice. If you’re a British national in Hubei Province and need assistance, contact our 24/7 number +86 (0) 10 8529 6600 or the FCO in London on (+44) (0)207 008 1500. If you have registered your desire to leave, you will be contacted once arrangements are confirmed.

The FCO has published the following PDF document, setting out the advised travel restrictions in place across China (opens in external site)
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/5e306fbe40f0b62c4b0f0aba/FCO_440_-_China_Travel_Advice_Ed3__WEB__pdf_200128.pdf

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office has issued detailed travel advice for China. Please visit the FCO website for full details.

UPDATE: 27 JANUARY 20:45

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office has issued the following, additional information for travellers to China:

The latest information is available on the FCO website, here:
https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/china

UPDATE: 27 JANUARY 09:28

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office has issued update travel advice:

We are working to make available an option for British nationals to leave Hubei province. If you are a British national in Hubei Province and require assistance, please contact:

· our 24/7 number +86 (0) 10 8529 6600
· or the FCO (+44) (0)207 008 1500

We continue to monitor developments closely and are in close touch with the Chinese authorities. The safety and security of British nationals is always our primary concern.

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/china

The TravelHealthPro website has further information on the spread of the Coronavirus outbreak https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/country/49/china#CIoutBreaks


Following media reports of an outbreak of a new virus, we have compiled a number of resources that provide the latest advice for business travellers.

About Wuhan novel coronavirus


Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses with some causing less-severe disease, such as the common cold, and others causing more severe disease such as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) coronaviruses.

The source of the Wuhan novel coronavirus (WN-CoV) outbreak has yet to be determined. Preliminary investigations identified environmental samples positive for WN-CoV in Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan City.

Although evidence is still emerging, information to date indicates human-to-human transmission is occurring. 

Further information: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-background-information/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-epidemiology-virology-and-clinical-features (Public Health England website).

Travel advice

On 22 January 2020, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office issued advice against all but essential travel to Wuhan city, Hubei Province.

The FCO advice on travel to China can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/china.

Coronavirus outbreak updates

Travel Health Pro continues to monitor coronavirus from its initial reports on 31 December 2019 and continues to do so as the virus evolves.

The latest information from Travel Health Pro is available here: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/updates.php?base=2896.

Enhanced monitoring

Enhanced monitoring has been put in place from all direct flights from Wuhan to the UK. The enhanced monitoring package includes a number of measures that will help to provide advice to travellers if they feel unwell.

For further information and the latest advice on travel to China, see the Public Health England page, here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-and-avian-flu-advice-for-travel-to-china.

Dr Nick Phin, Deputy Director, National Infection Service, Public Health England, said:

This is a new and rapidly evolving situation where information on cases and the virus is being gathered and assessed daily.  Based on the available evidence, the current risk to the UK is considered low. We are working with the WHO and other international partners, have issued advice to the NHS and are keeping the situation under constant review.

The risk to visitors to Wuhan is moderate reflecting an increase in the number of cases being identified in China and evidence that the virus has limited spread from person to person. If you are travelling to the area, you should maintain good hand, respiratory and personal hygiene and should avoid visiting animal and bird markets or people who are ill with respiratory symptoms. Individuals should seek medical attention if they develop respiratory symptoms within 14 days of visiting Wuhan, either in China or on their return to the UK. They should phone ahead before attending any health services and mention their recent travel to the city.

A Foreign & Commonwealth Office spokesperson said:

In light of the latest medical information, including reports of some person-to-person transmission, and the Chinese authorities’ own advice, we are now advising against all but essential travel to Wuhan.

The safety and security of British nationals is always our primary concern, and we advise British nationals travelling to China to remain vigilant and check our travel advice on gov.uk.

ACI and IATA outline roadmap for aviation industry restart

Airports Council International (ACI) World and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have called on governments to ensure any new measures introduced for airports and airlines in the wake of Covid-19 are supported by scientific evidence and are consistent across the world.

IATA General Secretary Alexandre de Juniac: “restoring air connectivity is vital to restarting the global economy”

ACI and IATA have jointly issued a paper laying out a pathway for restarting the aviation industry – Safely Restarting Aviation – ACI and IATA Joint Approach. Airlines and airports have co-operated to build a roadmap for resuming operations which reassures the travelling public that health and safety remain the overall priorities.

The joint approach proposes a layered approach of measures across the entire passenger journey to minimise the risk of transmission of Covid-19 at airports and onboard aircraft, and to prevent aviation becoming a meaningful source of international re-infection.

ACI and IATA are both central members the Covid-19 Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) being led by the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). CART enables the collaboration – among governments and between governments and industry -that is vital to ensure the harmonisation and consistency of measures that are essential to restoring air connectivity and passenger confidence in air travel.

ACI World Director General Angela Gittens said

Angela Gittens, ACI Director General: “the biggest challenge ever faced by commercial aviation”

Airports and airlines have come together with ICAO and the wider aviation industry to address the biggest challenge ever faced by commercial aviation in restarting a global industry while continuing to halt the spread of Covid-19. There is currently no single measure that could mitigate all the risks of restarting air travel but we believe a globally-consistent, outcome-based approach represents the most effective way of balancing risk mitigation with the need to unlock economies and to enable travel.

IATA’s Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said

Safety is always our top priority and that includes public health. Restoring air connectivity is vital to restarting the global economy and reconnecting people. Our layered approach of measures recommended by airports and airlines safeguards public health while offering a practical approach for a gradual restart of operations. It is important to remember that the risk of transmission on board is very low. And we are determined that aviation will not be a significant source of re-infection. We are working continuously with governments to ensure that any measures put in place are done so consistently and with scientific backing. That is key to restoring public confidence so the benefits of safely re-starting aviation can be realised.

Industry leaders answer GTM’s client’s questions on business travel, coronavirus measures and the future use of the UK’s busiest airport

Senior travel industry representatives have set out a clear roadmap for business travel growth through London’s busiest airport and have answered questions from GTM’s clients. 

Global Travel Management was one of a selected group of travel management companies to address John Holland-Kaye and Clive Wratten in an online Q&A. 

Holland-Kaye, CEO of London Heathrow Airport repeated his calls for a “Common International Standard for health in aviation”, which would pave the way for infection-free passengers to be able to travel freely.  And Wratten, CEO of the Business Travel Association (BTA) set out his organisation’s five-point plan to get business travel moving again. 

Global Travel Management’s clients were asked what questions they would like to see put to the industry figures.

Global Travel Management Managing Director Scott Pawley asked

The key to stimulating travel and to ensure clients see a swift and comprehensive return to travel plans is confidence.  Until clients have confidence that their travel objectives can be met safely, there remains a barrier to returning to travel.  What specific measures can we tell our clients that Heathrow is undertaking to ensure all travel meets with social distancing guidance and that airport staff, as well as passengers, are screened for coronavirus symptoms?

John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow Airport, called for a Common International Standard for health in aviation

Holland-Kaye explained that the Common International Standard for health in aviation is something that needs to be in place and confirmed that the UK government is in a good place to bring together international parties to ensure that this happens. 

He also explained that Heathrow is taking several steps to ensure safe, secure passage through the airport for business and leisure travellers:

  • Passengers and staff will be required to wear face masks at the airport  
  • Surfaces will undergo more rigorous and frequent cleaning
  • Hand sanitiser will be made available for general use
  • Investments will be made to ensure zero-touch passage through security becomes the norm – this investment may take up to two years to put in place
  • Once passengers are screened, through security and air-side, the comprehensive use face masks will reduce the need to adhere to typical two metre social distancing

Paul Baker, Sales Director of Global Travel Management asked

Does Heathrow Airport Ltd have plans to instigate something similar to the testing on arrival carried out at Vienna Airport, which helps infection-free passengers avoid quarantine?

Holland-Kaye explained that tests should be carried prior to departure, rather than on arrival, and repeated his request for a Common International Standard to include an internationally agreed permit to guarantee arrival.

Wratten also explained the BTA’s five-point plan.

BTA CEO Clive Wratten has set out a clear, five-point plan to get businesses travelling again

The BTA recognises the many and complex challenges ahead in the fight against Covid-19, but firmly believes the following five key steps are necessary to get the business world travelling again:

  1. Timeframe – No one knows when travel can begin, and this missing date means consumers and businesses cannot be confident about future journeys. We need to move from a restriction of “All but essential” to “Essential business travel permitted”.
  2. International co-operation and clarity – The BTA is arguing for a set of globally consistent guidelines on social distancing, the use of masks and other hygiene measures.
  3. Protected travellers – When Governments and travel providers give the green light, the need to ensure everyone stays safe will remain crucial. This requires insurance to cover employees when they travel and, in case of disruption or infection, that businesses’ actions will not cause employee concern or dissent.
  4. Safe services – Airlines, airports, train companies, car rental firms, hotels and other accommodation providers will need to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt, the steps they are taking to ensure cleanliness and social distancing. This could be overseen by travel associations such as the BTA across the globe with a recognisable marque provided to those who meet the criteria.
  5. Competitive pricing – Economies are being squeezed; companies are under pressure. Hence, travel budgets for the latter half of this year, and for 2021, will be challenging. Consequently, all elements of the business travel supply chain will need to ensure they remain highly competitive on pricing. Achieving this requires government intervention and financial commitment today to keep struggling businesses afloat – both in the business travel sector and amongst those who buy from it. 

We would like to thank Clive Wratten and John Holland-Kaye for taking the time to answer these questions.

Walsh spells out IAG coronavirus safety plans

Willie Walsh has told a committee of MPs his plans for ensuring the safety of passengers and crew while the coronavirus epidemic continues.

Willie Walsh, chief executive of IAG, gave evidence to the House of Commons Transport Select Committee yesterday (Monday, 11 May)
Image: StuBaileyPhoto/Wikimedia-Commons/parliament.uk

Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group (IAG) was facing MPs gathering evidence for the Transport Select Committee.

He explained,

There is very little evidence of any passenger to passenger contact spreading of the coronavirus.  That’s not to say people on flights have not got off and subsequently tested positive and spread it as a result of that. 

Walsh went on to explain the measures IAG – comprising British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, Level and Vueling – will take:

We will take all measures and we are working with regulators to implement what I hope will be a common system across – let’s start with – Europe, and hopefully globally, will take measures that need to be taken at airports, on board the aircraft and to ensure that all of the responsible authorities are able to track and trace everybody who has come off an aircraft to ensure that, if there is anybody that tests positive, that they can be tracked.

We are working with a number of regulators.  EASA, the European Safety Agency, will be publishing a draft document some time this week which will set out the regulations that they will propose to the EU27.  I expect that to be a comprehensive document which will deal with all aspects.  We will follow any regulation that is introduced to ensure that people can be confident that it is safe to climb aboard an aircraft in this environment.

The Covid-19 pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to cause uncertainty to industries in the United Kingdom and beyond. The travel industry is not immune to the disruption caused. But at Global Travel Management we are committed to ensuring we provide a safe business travel management service and that our clients have access to up to date information and guidance.

What we are doing

We are monitoring the Covid-19 pandemic and how the travel industry is dealing with it very closely. Members of our management team are in regular dialogue with industry bodies and are working to ensure that travellers’ best interests are at the forefront of decision-making. We will be happy to answer any questions you have.

We have closed our office premises and transferred all travel management functions to employees working from home. You can still reach Global Travel Management by phone or email in the usual way.

Where you can get more information

We have a news page on our website that gathers some of the most important and breaking news on Covid-19 and its impact on the travel industry and business travellers. Covid-19 news page.

You can follow our Twitter account which contains business travel news as it breaks. GTM Covid-19 tweets. (Opens in new tab).

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has a frequently-update page offering guidance for British people travelling overseas during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. FCO guidance for travel. (Opens in new tab).

The UK Government’s has published advice: “Covid-19: what you need to do”. (Opens in new tab).

The Association of British Travel Agents has produced “Advice on travelling”. (Opens in new tab).