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Hospitality Ireland Presents Round-Up Of Global Travel, Airline And Aviation News

Published on Jan 7 2022 11:04 AM in General Industry tagged: Trending Posts / Lufthansa / Boeing / Qatar Airways / TUI / Delta Air Lines / FlyDubai / Air France-KLM / Cathay Pacific / Royal Caribbean / Cathay Pacific Airways / Norwegian Cruise Line / Alaska Airlines / Alaska Air Group / Air Arabia / Allegiant Air / Norwegian Cruise / Avelo

Hospitality Ireland Presents Round-Up Of Global Travel, Airline And Aviation News

Hospitality Ireland presents a round-up of global travel, airline and aviation news.

COVID-19 Infects 214 On Five Cruise Ships In Brazilian Waters

Five cruise ships in Brazilian waters have reported 214 cases of COVID-19 among their crew and passengers, including two ships that are in quarantine in the port of Santos, health regulator Anvisa said on Tuesday January 4.

Two ships run by the Swiss-Italian cruise line MSC Cruises, each with more than 3,000 passengers are due to arrive in Rio de Janeiro and Santos this week, the regulator said.

The MSC Seaside arriving on Thursday in Santos has reported 65 cases among crew members and 25 among passengers, while the MSC Preziosa due in Rio on Wednesday has 25 crew with COVID-19 and 8 passengers infected, Anvisa said.

Cruise ship companies suspended operations in Brazil until Jan. 21 after health authorities recommended against cruise ship travel following several offshore outbreaks of the coronavirus.

Industry association CLIA said no ships will cast off during the "voluntary" suspension period, while those at sea will complete their voyages.

The MSC Splendida and the Costa Diadema, owned by Carnival Corp, are quarantined at anchor in Santos and have 62 and 30 crew members infected, respectively, with no passengers on board.

The Costa Fascinosa, also owned by Carnival, is at port in Rio with seven cases of COVID-19, five of them passengers, Anvisa said.

U.S. Carrier Allegiant Air To Buy 50 Boeing 737 MAX Jets -Sources

Allegiant Air is poised to order 50 Boeing 737 MAX jets worth $5 billion at list prices, people familiar with the matter said, rejecting offers by traditional supplier Airbus as the no-frills carrier seeks to capture a boom in post-pandemic U.S. tourism.

The surprise deal stems a series of setbacks for Boeing Co and overturns the airline's previous strategy of picking up second-hand jets at bargain prices, which had helped it accumulate over 100 jets built by Boeing's European rival.

The switch of suppliers is the third such airline defection in as many weeks, this time working in Boeing's favour after the U.S. planemaker lost hard-fought medium-haul contests to Airbus at Dutch KLM and Australia's Qantas.

Such "flips" are rare due to the cost of retraining pilots, but reflect fierce competition for new business as the aerospace industry seeks to recover from its worst-ever recession.

Boeing, Airbus and Allegiant Air, a unit of Allegiant Travel Co, all declined to comment.

The deal is the latest sign of accelerated growth among "ultra-low-cost" carriers that combine rock-bottom fares with optional charges. Carriers like these are expected to emerge in a position of relative strength from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The leisure market is coming back in droves relative to the business market," said one of the people familiar with Allegiant's plans.

The Las Vegas-based carrier operates a total of 122 A319 or A320 jets, only 13 of which were ordered directly from Airbus, according to European data.

The 737 MAX planes will help Allegiant's growth strategy and replace aging aircraft over the coming years, though it will continue to be an Airbus operator.

The order comes after a contest waged at least partially between the 737 MAX 7 and the Airbus A220, two of the people said, though some larger 8200 variants may also be involved.

"This is huge. Allegiant was in line to order the A220," Leeham Co analyst Scott Hamilton said, adding that the outcome suggested Allegiant had received a "screaming deal" from Boeing as well as the ability to get deliveries more quickly.

The new Boeing planes would replace retired jets and feed Allegiant's growth plans over the coming years.

Mexico's Viva Aerobus in December announced a commercial alliance with Allegiant to offer flights between the United States and Mexico.

The deal, which is likely to be counted in December's orders for Boeing, caps a tight annual order race with Airbus.

Boeing bounced back from a safety crisis to sell some 700 MAX through end-November, only to lose two of the industry's most widely watched contests to rival Airbus at Qantas and various subsidiaries of Franco-Dutch group Air France-KLM.

Both planemakers are due to publish 2021 data next week.

Hong Kong Hunts COVID Patient's Contacts, Orders Cruise Ship Back To Port

Hong Kong health authorities on Wednesday January 5 began a city-wide search for the contacts of a COVID-19 patient and ordered a Royal Caribbean "cruise to nowhere" ship to return to port early.

The global finance hub has stuck to a zero-COVID strategy by largely isolating itself from the world and enforcing a draconian and costly quarantine regime.

On Dec. 31, a streak of three months without community cases ended with the first local transmission of the new Omicron variant.

Since then, authorities have scrambled to track down and test hundreds of people who had been in contact with a handful of Omicron patients.

"The most stringent anti-epidemic measures will be implemented to prevent the mutant strains from spreading in the local community," the government said in a statement.

The latest hunt was sparked by a patient who danced with some 20 friends in a central park on New Year's Eve. Two of the fellow dancers, one of whom was a domestic helper, came up positive in preliminary tests.

The helper's employer and eight other of her close contacts then went on a "cruise to nowhere" journey on Jan. 2, which was due to return on Jan. 6.

As part of its coronavirus restrictions, Hong Kong has restricted cruises to short trips in nearby waters, with ships asked to operate at reduced capacity and to only allow vaccinated passengers who test negative for the virus.

The "Spectrum of the Seas" ship had about 2,500 passengers and 1,200 staff on board. The nine close contact passengers were isolated from the rest of the people on board and preliminary tests taken during the journey returned negative results, authorities said.

"Spectrum of the Seas is taking appropriate measures under guidelines by the Department of Health," Royal Caribbean told Reuters in a statement.

The ship, which in October was prevented from departing on a similar journey due to coronavirus fears, returned to the terminal early on Wednesday January 5.

The nine close contacts will be sent to a quarantine centre, while the rest of the passengers and staff will have to undergo several compulsory tests in coming days, the government said.

Additionally, people who have been to 47 places across Hong Kong around the same time as the close contacts of recent patients have been issued compulsory testing notices, the government said in a separate statement.

The venues include the central Victoria Park, the newly-opened M+ modern art museum, ferry piers, restaurants, stores, clinics and others.

Hong Kong Bans Some Inbound Flights, Tightens COVID-19 Curbs

Hong Kong announced a two-week ban on incoming flights from eight countries, including the United States and Britain, and tightened restrictions on Wednesday January 5 as authorities feared a fifth wave of COVID-19 infections.

The restrictions were announced as health authorities scoured the city for the contacts of a COVID-19 patient, some of whom had been aboard a Royal Caribbean ship that was ordered to cut short its "cruise to nowhere" and return to port.

Incoming flights from Australia, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Britain and the United States, including interchanges, would be banned from Jan. 8 to Jan 21, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam told reporters.

Lam said the government would ban indoor dining after 6.00 pm from Friday, and close swimming pools, sports centres, bars and clubs, museums, and other venues for at least two weeks. Future cruise journeys would be cancelled.

"We're yet to see a fifth wave yet, but we're on the verge," Lam said.

Hong Kong recorded 38 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday January 5, but only one was a local community transmission, while the rest were people who had returned to the city and tested positive during quarantine.

The global finance hub has stuck to a zero-tolerance strategy by largely isolating itself from the world and enforcing a draconian and costly quarantine regime.

On Dec. 31, a streak of three months without community cases ended with the first local transmission of the Omicron variant.

Since then, authorities have scrambled to track down and test hundreds of people who had been in contact with a handful of Omicron patients. One patient, however, had no known links, raising fears of a large outbreak.

"We are worried there may be silent transmission chains in the community," Lam said.

Lam said the government would not suspend classes for the time being "for the benefit of children".

In response to the outbreak fears, Standard Chartered Plc has started operating in split teams in Hong Kong, a bank spokesperson said.

The latest contact tracing campaign was sparked by a patient who danced with some 20 friends in a central park on New Year's Eve. Two of the fellow dancers, one of whom was a domestic helper, came up positive in preliminary tests.

The helper's employer and eight other of her close contacts then went on a cruise on Jan. 2.

As part of its coronavirus restrictions, Hong Kong has restricted cruises to short trips in nearby waters, with ships asked to operate at reduced capacity and to only allow vaccinated passengers who test negative for the virus.

The "Spectrum of the Seas" ship, which returned a day early, had about 2,500 passengers and 1,200 staff on board. The nine close contact passengers tested negative for the virus so far, authorities said.

"Spectrum of the Seas is taking appropriate measures under guidelines by the Department of Health," Royal Caribbean told Reuters in a statement.

The nine close contacts were sent to a quarantine centre, while the rest of the passengers and staff will have to undergo several tests, the government said.

Additionally, people who have been to dozens of places across Hong Kong around the same time as the close contacts of recent patients have been issued compulsory testing notices, the government said in a separate statement.

Victoria Park, in downtown Hong Kong, the newly opened M+ modern art museum, ferry piers, restaurants, stores, clinics were among the places listed.

Gabriel Leung, University of Hong Kong dean of medicine and a government adviser, told public broadcaster RTHK there were probably "five-to-10 invisible transmission chains" in the city.

"There’s no time to waste," Leung said. "We need circuit-breaker measures."

TUI To Finance Hotels, Cruise Ships With Investment Funds -Report

TUI is planning to finance new hotels and cruise ships by setting up investment funds rather than through borrowing, its strategy director was quoted by German magazine WirtschaftsWoche as saying.

The world's largest holiday company had to be propped up with billions of euros of government aid after its travel business collapsed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

TUI has been slow to recover and because of its existing debt, which has grown during the pandemic, TUI had to look for other ways to finance new cruise ships or hotels, Peter Krueger was quoted as saying by WirtschaftsWoche on Wednesday January 5.

"There is enough money in the market and we already have very concrete interested parties," Krueger said, adding that the investment fund plans were fairly advanced.

"Our integration takes out most of the risk for investors," said Krueger, who plans to present details within weeks.

WirtschaftsWoche said TUI plans to build more than 100 new hotels and up to six new cruise ships in the coming years.

Norwegian Cruise Cancels Several Sailings As Omicron Cases Surge

Norwegian Cruise Line on Wednesday January 5 cancelled trips on eight ships, a few whose embarkation dates are as far out as late April, as the spread of the Omicron variant in the United States shows no signs of slowing.

The division of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd made the decision with the United States reporting nearly 1 million new coronavirus infections on Monday, the highest daily tally of any country in the world.

"Due to ongoing travel restrictions, we've had to modify a few sailings and unfortunately have had to cancel," Norwegian Cruise said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched investigations into 94 ships for onboard COVID-19 cases, with a few of Norwegian Cruise's ships also under observation.

The CDC, which last week advised people to avoid traveling on cruise ships regardless of their vaccination status, starts scrutiny if at least 0.10% of the passengers test positive for COVID-19.

Norwegian Cruise, which requires all its passengers and guests to be vaccinated, cancelled all sailings on the Norwegian Pearl ship with embarkation dates through and including Jan. 14.

The cruise line had also said on Tuesday it cut short a 12-day Panama Canal itinerary roundtrip from Miami on its Norwegian Pearl ship, citing "COVID related circumstances."

Norwegian Cruise has also cancelled sailings on other ships, including Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Sun and Norwegian Spirit. It said guests will receive full automatic refunds and some bonus credits they could use for future bookings.

Norwegian Cruise has 17 vessels, according to its website.

Allegiant Air Buys 50 New Boeing 737 MAX Jets In Strategy Shift

U.S. low-cost carrier Allegiant Air confirmed plans on Wednesday January 5 to buy 50 new Boeing 737 MAX jets worth $5.5 billion at list prices in a switch of supplier and strategy as it gears up for a post-pandemic rebound in tourism.

The order marks what one analyst, reacting to purchase plans first reported by Reuters on Tuesday January 4, called a stark change of approach by the fast-growing domestic carrier, which had previously relied mainly on used Airbus aircraft.

Allegiant "has experienced one of the strongest recoveries of U.S. airlines," Jefferies analyst Sheila Kahyaoglu wrote, adding that the order is evidence of post-pandemic confidence in leisure travel "vastly outperforming corporate travel."

The Las Vegas-based carrier will buy 30 737 MAX 7 aircraft and 20 737 MAX 8-200 aircraft, making it the launch customer for that larger variant in the United States, Chief Financial Officer Greg Anderson told Reuters.

It will take delivery of 10 of the jets in 2023, 24 in 2024, and 16 in 2025, he added in an interview on Wednesday.

The deal is a boost for Boeing Co after two key medium-haul customers, Qantas and several affiliates of Air France-KLM, switched to Airbus in December.

"With this deal, and these new MAX aircraft, it will provide the ability to grow into 400 more routes," Anderson said.

He declined to name city pairs targeted under the expansion but said the planes would add seating capacity and 20% fuel savings compared to Allegiant's older Airbus aircraft.

Boeing's shares were up 1.3% in midday trade on Wednesday January 5 while the stock of airline parent Allegiant Travel Co fell more than 8%.

Colin Scarola, vice president at CFRA Research, reckons that the Boeing order could undermine Allegiant's cost advantage as differential and mixed fleet tends to result in "significant" operating costs.

Scarola said the order also suggests that market inventory might be depleted for the much-cheaper highly used planes the low-cost airline typically likes to buy.

Allegiant has until now relied mainly on cheaper second-hand planes to reduce costs - a strategy that allows it to use jets less intensively and attack thinly populated routes, with some planes flying no more than twice a week, according to Jefferies.

Raymond James analysts said this approach is well suited for what is expected to be a "choppy recovery" but warned of the operational inefficiencies caused by having a mixed fleet.

Allegiant currently operates 110 Airbus A319s and A320s and will continue buying A320s in the used market, Anderson said. It has some 50 aircraft – 20 A320s and 30 A319s - that it may need to retire over the coming decade.

Analysts said the deal for new jets pointed to an aggressive offer from Boeing while experts have said Airbus remains hampered by high parts costs for the A220, another type examined by Allegiant. Boeing has denied slashing prices to win deals.

Wednesday January 5's expansion is the latest sign of growth among "ultra-low-cost" carriers that combine rock-bottom fares with optional charges. Such carriers are expected to emerge in a position of relative strength from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Our bookings are greater than they were in 2019," Anderson said, referring to pre-pandemic travel levels.

Still, like many airlines, Allegiant has voiced uncertainties over fuel prices, labor and supply chain problems as well as mounting inflationary pressures.

Mexico's Viva Aerobus in December announced a commercial alliance with Allegiant to offer flights between the United States and Mexico.

Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Cancel Voyages Amid Omicron Scare

Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line on Wednesday January 5 cancelled sailings amid rising fears of Omicron-related coronavirus infections that have dampened the nascent recovery of the pandemic-ravaged cruise industry.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd called off its Spectrum of the Seas cruise for Jan. 6 after nine guests on its Jan. 2 trip were identified as close contacts to a local Hong Kong COVID-19 case.

The contacts have tested negative but the cruise ship will return to Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in Hong Kong on Jan. 5 to test all guests and crew who must take a second test on Jan. 8, the company said.

A similar decision to cancel trips by Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd was made against the backdrop of the United States reporting the highest daily tally of any country for new coronavirus infections on Monday January 3.

"Due to ongoing travel restrictions, we've had to modify a few sailings and unfortunately have had to cancel," the 17-ship strong cruise operator said, with the embarkation dates for a few cancelled sailings as far out as late April.

The cruise line, which requires everyone on board to be vaccinated, has also had to cut short a 12-day round trip from Miami on its Norwegian Pearl ship, citing "COVID related circumstances."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had last week advised people to avoid cruise travel after launching investigations into onboard cases on more than 90 ships. The health agency starts a scrutiny if at least 0.1% of the guests test positive.

Norwegian Cruise said guests, who were supposed to embark on the cancelled sailings on the eight ships, will receive full refunds and bonus credits for future bookings.

The Omicron-led travel uncertainty is also causing guests on other sailings to cancel their bookings as a few ships have also had to skip ports due to onboard infections.

"We booked the cruise last March and assumed that things would be getting back to normal... by mid-December, I was mentally prepared for a change of plans," said Holly Bromley, a consulting arborist, who cancelled her booking on Norwegian Epic.

Meanwhile, bigger rival Carnival Corp said it has not cancelled any upcoming voyages, but its shares fell on Wednesday January 5 to close down 2.6%. Royal Caribbean lost 2.1% and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings 3.6%.

Lufthansa Cancels Flights To Kazakhstan's Almaty

German airline Lufthansa on Thursday January 6 said it was no longer offering regular flights to Kazakhstan's largest city, Almaty, as the Central Asian country faces its worst unrest in over a decade.

"Due to further developments, Lufthansa has now decided not to offer any more regular flights to Almaty until further notice," a spokesperson for the company told Reuters.

Almaty's airport was reportedly overrun by anti-government protesters on Wednesday January 5, forcing flights to be canceled, before it was later retaken by government security forces.

Mideast Carriers Flydubai, Air Arabia Cancel Flights To Kazakhstan's Almaty

Middle East carriers flydubai and Air Arabia cancelled services to Kazakhstan's largest city Almaty on Thursday January 6 as the country faces its worst unrest in over a decade.

A flydubai spokesperson said the airline had cancelled its two return Dubai-Almaty services scheduled for Thursday January 6 due to the "situation on the ground" there.

A return flydubai flight from Dubai to capital Nursultan was due to operate.

Flydubai flights between Dubai and Almaty have been cancelled until Jan. 8 but flights to Nur-Sultan are operating, according to a spokesperson's statement.

The website for Air Arabia showed its return Sharjah-Almaty flights scheduled for Thursday as cancelled.

There was no immediate comment from the Emirati airline.

Almaty airport was reportedly overrun by anti-government protesters on Wednesday January 5, forcing flights to be cancelled, before it was later retaken by government security forces.

Kuwaiti budget carrier Jazeera Airways on Wednesday January 5 suspended services to Almaty.

Kazakhstan's government has declared a nationwide state of emergency in response to the anti-government protests.

Hong Kong Airport Authority Raises $4bn In Bond Deal, Sees Strong Demand

Hong Kong's airport authority has raised $4 billion to fund its third runway development in a four-tranche U.S. dollar debt deal, according to an official statement, as the city grapples with flight bans and cancellations amid COVID-19 curbs.

It raised $1 billion in a five-year green bond tranche, $1.2 billion in a 10-year, $1.2 billion in a 30-year and $600 million in a 40-year issue, the airport authority said on Thursday January 6.

Final prices were set at U.S. Treasuries plus 42.5 basis points (bps) for the five-year tranche, 80 bps for the 10-year, 120 bps points for the 30-year and 140 bps for the 40-year paper, it said.

The prices were between 30 and 37.5 bps tighter than initial indications when the deal launched in Asia on Wednesday January 5.

Raising the funds were significantly more expensive for the airport now compared with when it raised $1.5 billion in 10- and 30-year debt in January last year at 65 and 80 bps above the Treasury benchmarks.

Order books were open on Wednesday January 5 when Hong Kong announced fresh two-week flight bans for eight countries, including the United States, the UK and Australia as part of ongoing border restrictions.

The ban is expected to severely hit the airport's passenger numbers but investors, especially in the longer-dated tranches, were mostly unperturbed, sources with direct knowledge told Reuters.

"We were concerned because it was an unexpected piece of news but we did not see any major negative impact from the accounts that had placed orders," said one banker with direct knowledge who asked not to be identified as he was not permitted to speak to media.

Order books across the four tranches stood at $11.5 billion, meaning the deal was almost four times oversubscribed, a term sheet seen by Reuters showed.

It was the first time the airport authority had issued a 40-year bond and the majority of the tranche was bought by Asian investors and fund managers, according to the term sheet.

The bonds were rated AA+ by ratings agency S&P.

Hong Kong recorded 33 new coronavirus cases on Thursday January 6, with 28 of those imported by travellers, health officials said.

U.S. Budget Airline Avelo Raises $42m In New Funding

Avelo Airlines, an ultra-low-cost carrier created by a former United Airlines executive, on Thursday January 6 said it has raised $42 million in a Series B funding round led by an investment fund managed by Morgan Stanley.

The Texas-based airline, which began flights last April, had raised $125 million in January 2020. Avelo currently serves 19 popular destinations across the United States with six Boeing Next-Generation 737s.

In an interview, Avelo's founder and chief executive, Andrew Levy, said the company has plans to add nine more 737s to its fleet by the end of the year as it looks to fly to at least 40 cities in the United States.

The carrier has seen a spike in ticket cancellations in recent weeks following a surge in COVID-19 infections driven by the Omicron variant. Levy, however, said the company is "cautiously optimistic" about a pickup in travel demand once COVID-19 cases begin to dip.

"People's purchase behavior really tracks the news on the virus," said Levy, the co-founder and former president of low-cost carrier Allegiant Airlines and chief financial officer of United Airlines. "The demand for travel is massive."

Avelo has plans to hire more than 450 crew members this years. But attracting talent in a tight labor market has been "really difficult", Levy told Reuters.

The company has had to increase wages of its pilots, flight attendants and airport staff and is under pressure to offer similar raises to other groups of employees.

"You have to compete for talent like everybody else does," Levy said.

FACTBOX-Countries Making COVID-19 Vaccines Mandatory

Governments have been making COVID-19 shots mandatory for health workers and other high-risk groups, pushed by a sharp upturn in infections caused by the Delta variant and a slowdown in vaccinations, as well as the new Omicron variant.

A growing number of countries are also making shots compulsory for public servants and other workers.

Here are some countries' vaccine mandates, listed according to categories of people affected:

ADULTS AND/OR CHILDREN

** AUSTRIA: all over 14s from February 2022; holdouts can be fined up to 3,600 euros every 3 months

** COSTA RICA: only children over 5 years old

ADULTS

** ECUADOR: obligatory except for people who have a relevant medical condition or incompatibility

** GERMANY: plans to make mandatory for all adults from February

** INDONESIA: all adults, with fines or refusal of social assistance or government services for the unvaccinated

** ITALY: over 50s until June 15

** MICRONESIA: all adults

** TAJIKISTAN: all over 18s

** TURKMENISTAN: all over 18s

ELDERLY

** CZECH REPUBLIC: over 60s from March

** GREECE: over 60s from Jan. 16; recurring 100 euros monthly fine for those who fail to comply

** MALAYSIA: over 60s and all adult recipients of the Sinovac vaccine required to get a booster dose by Feb.

** RUSSIA: over 60s and chronically ill in St. Petersburg

GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECTOR WORKERS

** CANADA: all federally regulated workplaces from early 2022

** COSTA RICA: all state workers

** CROATIA: all public sector employees, citizens who need services in public institutions

** CZECH REPUBLIC: police officers, soldiers and some other professions from March

** DENMARK: workplaces allowed to require a digital "corona pass" for employees

** EGYPT: vaccination or weekly COVID-19 test required from public sector employees to work in government buildings

** FIJI: public servants, employees at private firms

** FRANCE: public officials or employees, including civil security pilots, flight personnel providing care for victims, soldiers permanently assigned to civil security missions, firefighters

** GHANA: targeted groups including all public sector and health workers from Jan. 22

** HUNGARY: employees at state institutions

** ITALY: all workers, school staff, police, military

** LATVIA: required for lawmakers to be able to vote and to receive full pay; businesses allowed to fire unvaccinated workers

** LEBANON: all civil servants and workers in the education, tourism and public transport sectors from Jan. 10

** NEW ZEALAND: workers of border, prison, police and defence force sectors, as well as education sector

** OMAN: public or private sector employees for entry to workplace

** PANAMA: vaccination or weekly testing for all public officials

** POLAND: teachers, security personnel and uniformed services from March 1, 2022

** RUSSIA: workers with public-facing roles in Moscow;

** SAUDI ARABIA: public and private sector workers wishing to attend a workplace; people entering government, private, or educational establishments

** TUNISIA: officials, employees and visitors accessing public and private administrations

** TURKEY: some sectors including teachers and domestic travel employees

** UKRAINE: public sector employees including teachers, municipal employees

** UNITED STATES: all federal workers, contractors (temporarily blocked from enforcing nationwide), private sector workers in companies with 100 or more employees (reinstated on Dec. 18), public-sector workers (contested in New York court)

HEALTH WORKERS

** AUSTRALIA: high-risk aged-care workers, employees in quarantine hotels

** BRITAIN: care home staff in England, health workers in England by April 1

** CROATIA: health and social care workers

** CZECH REPUBLIC: hospitals and nursing homes employees from March 2022

** FINLAND: plans to make vaccines mandatory for health and social care workers

** FRANCE: healthcare and care home workers, home aids and urgent care technicians

** GERMANY: workers of hospitals, doctor's offices and nursing homes by mid-March

** GREECE: nursing home staff, healthcare workers

** HUNGARY: healthcare workers

** ITALY: health workers

** LEBANON: health sectors from Jan. 10, 2022

** NEW ZEALAND: health and disability sector workers

** POLAND: healthcare workers from March 1, 2022

** UKRAINE: state and municipal healthcare workers

OTHER WORKERS

** Western Australia: employees of mining, oil and gas exploration sectors

** CHINA: booster shot required in Beijing for key workers on construction sites, including cooks, security guards and cleaning personnel

** PHILIPPINES: in-office workers and employees in public transportation services

** KAZAKHSTAN: mandatory vaccinations or weekly testing for people working in groups of more than 20

ENTRY TO PUBLIC VENUES

** AUSTRIA: public places including restaurants, hotels, theatres and ski lifts

** BOLIVIA: vaccination pass or negative test required for entry into public and private venues, including airports, bus stations, banks, shopping centres, restaurants and supermarkets

** BRITAIN: vaccination or negative test for all over-18s at night clubs and other venues in Scotland; at nightclubs, some indoor and outdoor unseated venues and all venues with more than 10,000 people in England

** BULGARIA: "health pass" for visitors of public venues such as cafes, hotels, concert halls, museums and swimming pools

** CZECH REPUBLIC: vaccination certificates or testing status required at restaurants and clubs

** DENMARK: health pass required for entry to indoor bars, restaurants and other public places

** EGYPT: vaccination mandatory for public university students to access campuses

** FRANCE: vaccination pass mandatory for all over-16s to enter cinemas, bars and restaurants, and use long-distance public transport, from Jan. 15

** GERMANY: vaccination required for all but the most essential businesses such as grocery stores, pharmacies and bakeries

** HONG KONG: vaccination required for entry to restaurants, gyms, cinemas, and libraries from Feb. 24

** ITALY: vaccination required for indoor seating at bars, restaurants, visiting museums, cinemas, clubs, attending sporting events; basic green health pass obligatory for all public transport

** KENYA: vaccination requirement for access to banks, restaurants, and public spaces; https://bit.ly/3EVBEyN; https://bit.ly/3n1X3QT

** LEBANON: vaccine certificate or antibody tests required for entry to restaurants, cafes, pubs and beaches

** LITHUANIA: vaccination certificate required for access to indoor and outdoor gatherings attended by more than 500 people, economic activities, contact services including beauty services and gyms for all over-12s (https://koronastop.lrv.lt/en/covid-19-related-restrictions-1)

** MOROCCO: vaccine required for access to all government buildings, spaces such as cafes, restaurants, cinemas, gyms, transportation

** NETHERLANDS: health pass mandatory to enter bars, restaurants, clubs or cultural events

** ROMANIA: health pass, negative COVID-19 test or proof of recovery mandatory for entry to most public venues including majority of non-essential ones

** SERBIA: health pass mandatory to visit indoor cafes, hotels and restaurants after 10 p.m.

** SINGAPORE: vaccination necessary to enter shopping malls; considers requiring a booster shot to qualify as fully vaccinated

** SWITZERLAND: proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test required to access bars, restaurants and fitness centres

** SOUTH KOREA: vaccine pass mandatory to access 14 designated public spaces, including hospitality and entertainment venues; requirement extended to over 12s from February

** SWEDEN: vaccine passes required for indoor events with more than 100 people; to be extended to smaller gatherings, such as in restaurants.

** UKRAINE: restrictions for unvaccinated on access to restaurants, sports and other public events

ON BOEING 737 MAX ORDER, ALLEGIANT AIR CEO SAYS "STILL A USED-AIRPLANE COMPANY" AND "STILL AN AIRBUS COMPANY"

Cathay Pacific To Cut More Flights Due To Pandemic Restrictions

Hong Kong's flagship carrier Cathay Pacific Airways said on Thursday January 6 it will cut more passenger flights until the end of March and operate a reduced cargo capacity after the city tightened restrictions fearing a fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The airline will operate about 20% of its pre-pandemic cargo capacity and around 2% of its pre-pandemic passenger flight capacity in January, it said in an emailed statement.

Hong Kong on Tuesday announced a two-week ban on incoming flights from eight countries, including the United States and Britain.

Cathay Pacific's website showed on Thursday January 6 zero scheduled dedicated freighter plane flights from Hong Kong to Europe and Southwest Pacific between January and March.

"This overall reduction in capacity will severely impact contracted cargo," the airline said.

The airline on Dec. 30 announced flight cancellation to and from Hong Kong. It did not say how many flights then, but that the cancellations would begin immediately and the airline planned to operate a skeleton passenger flight schedule in January.

Last week, Hong Kong health authorities said the city would tighten quarantine rules for air cargo crew. The new measures require that returning air cargo crew spend three days in hotel quarantine before a period of home isolation.

Allegiant Air CEO Defends New Boeing 737 MAX Order

Allegiant Air executives staged an investor call on Thursday January 6 to assuage fears that adding 50 new Boeing Co 737 MAX jets to its fleet of used Airbus jets would undermine the carrier's cost advantage.

"We are still a used-airplane company. We are still an Airbus company," Allegiant CEO Maury Gallagher told investors.

Air France-KLM Will Need To Raise €1bn - €2bn In 2022 -Les Echos

Franco-Dutch airline group Air France-KLM will need to raise additional capital of between €1 billion and €2 billion in 2022 to weather the downturn in air travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Les Echos reported on Thursday January 6.

The paper reported that this would likely not be the last capital issue as the airline would need another €4 billion to €6 billion to remain a top industry player.

The airline has already received more than €14 billion in support from the French and Dutch governments since the start of the COVID crisis.

A spokesman for the group could not immediately be reached.

In December, Air France-KLM redeemed €500 million from an earlier French state loan issued to help the airline cope with the fallout from the pandemic, and said it could also raise new equity.

Cruise Liner Hurtigruten Cuts Short Antarctic Voyage After COVID Outbreak

Norwegian cruise and travel operator Hurtigruten Group will cut short a voyage in the Antarctica region following an outbreak of the coronavirus, the company said on Thursday January 6.

Ten people on board the MS Roald Amundsen cruise vessel had tested positive for COVID-19, and the ship will return to port in Chile two days ahead of schedule, said a spokesperson for Hurtigruten Expeditions, a subsidiary of Hurtigruten Group.

The ship, carrying some 362 passengers and crew, had set out for an 18-day cruise from Punta Arenas in southern Chile and will now return to the same port.

The MS Roald Amundsen was also hit by a coronavirus outbreak in August 2020, when dozens of passengers and crew tested positive, public health officials in Norway said at the time.

Hurtigruten Expeditions operates a fleet of seven ships offering voyages in over 30 countries, including in the polar regions.

Cruise liners Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line on Wednesday cancelled sailings amid rising fears of Omicron-related coronavirus infections that have dampened the nascent recovery of the pandemic-ravaged industry.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said last week people should avoid travelling on cruise ships regardless of their vaccination status.

Alaska Airlines Reduces January Flight Schedule By Approximately 10%

Alaska Airlines, a unit of Alaska Air Group, said on Thursday January 6 it will reduce its flight departures by approximately 10% through the end of January, due to a surge in Omicron infections and a rise in employees calling in sick.

"As we have entered 2022, the continued impacts of Omicron have been disruptive in all our lives and unprecedented employee sick calls have impacted our ability to operate our airline reliably," the company said in a statement.

Delta Offers Waivers, Alaska Cuts Schedule Amid Severe Winter, Virus Surge

Delta Air Lines on Thursday January 6 allowed its travellers in Northeastern United States to make a one-time change in their itinerary free of cost as severe winter hampers flight operations.

The weather waiver, which is effective from Jan. 6 to 8, would be for Boston, JFK and LaGuardia airports in New York City and 12 Delta-served markets, including the three Washington-area airports, the airline said.

Separately, Alaska Air Group said it will reduce its flight departures by about 10% through the end of January due to increasing Omicron-related infections and a rise in employees calling in sick.

Severe winter weather along with the rapid spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant has led to a sharp rise in infections, forcing airlines to cancel flights as pilots and crew quarantine.

According to tracking website FlightAware.com, as of 15.30 ET (20.30 GMT) on Thursday January 6, 1,907 flights have been cancel led and 2,672 delayed.

Adding to the pressure for U.S. airlines, cabin crew, pilots and support staff have been reluctant to work overtime during the holiday season despite being lured with hefty incentives because of the growing fear of contracting COVID-19 and the prospect of dealing with unruly passengers.

U.S. coronavirus cases have risen by at least 689,092 on Wednesday to 57.67 million compared to 56.98 million the previous day, according to a Reuters tally.

Ratings agency Moody's said the financial impact of flight cancellations are likely to be modest and will be fleeting as pent-up demand remains strong. It expect passenger volumes for global airlines to snap back strongly through 2022 and into 2023.

Allegiant Defends New Boeing 737 MAX Order

Allegiant Travel Co on Thursday January 6 tried to ease concerns among investors that a plan to add 50 new Boeing Co 737 MAX planes to its fleet of used Airbus jets would drive up operating costs.

The Las Vegas-based company, which runs an ultra-low-cost carrier, said the $5.5 billion jet deal was part of its long-term growth strategy and would result in more than $300 million in savings.

"Strategically, you can't be all used car," said Chief Executive Maury Gallagher told investors on a call.

Allegiant's shares fell more than 8% on Wednesday January 5 after the company confirmed plans, first reported by Reuters, to buy 737 MAX 7 and 737 MAX 8-200 jets. Shares were up about 2% on Thursday.

The Boeing order marks a stark change of approach by the fast-growing domestic carrier, which had previously relied mainly on used Airbus aircraft.

The strategy to fly highly used, older Airbus aircraft has helped the company keep its costs low. Allegiant's cost per available seat mile (CASM) - the standard measure in the industry showing what it costs to fly one seat one mile - is estimated to be at least 35% below the major airlines, according to CFRA Research.

Analysts say a mixed fleet could increase its operating costs.

Allegiant, however, said the annual ownership and fuel cost of the MAX planes is expected to be lower than its current fleet, and the new aircraft would generate higher earnings.

The ultra-low-cost carrier aims to seize on post-pandemic leisure travel demand by adding more than 400 routes. It is looking to have more than 250 aircraft by the end of this decade.

But as the size of its fleet grows, the company reckons it would be difficult to source enough used spare parts for maintenance.

Gallagher said the prospect of running a fleet of more than 100 used planes was no longer tenable. "No airline in the world is run that way - you just can't do it," he said.

Allegiant's expansion is the latest sign of growth among ultra-low-cost carriers that combine rock-bottom fares with optional charges. Such carriers are expected to emerge in a position of relative strength from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company said its "bias" would be to finance and own the Boeing aircraft as it has the financial ability to make the deal.

Allegiant will buy 30 737 MAX 7 aircraft and 20 737 MAX 8-200 aircraft. It will take delivery of 10 of the jets in 2023, 24 in 2024, and 16 in 2025.

The deal is a boost for Boeing after two key medium-haul customers, Qantas and several affiliates of Air France-KLM, switched to Airbus in December.

Qatar Airways Seeks More Than $600m In Airbus A350 Dispute

Qatar Airways is seeking more than $600 million in compensation from Airbus over surface flaws on A350 jetliners, according to a court document shedding new light on an escalating business feud worth $4 million a day.

The Gulf carrier is also asking British judges to order France-based Airbus not to attempt to deliver any more of the jets until what it describes as a design defect has been fixed.

The two companies have been locked in a row for months over damage including blistered paint, cracked window frames or riveted areas and erosion of a layer of lightning protection.

Qatar Airways says its national regulator has ordered it to stop flying 21 out of its 53 A350 jets as problems appeared, prompting a bitter dispute with Airbus which has said that while it acknowledges technical problems, there is no safety issue.

Now, financial and technical details associated with the rare legal spat have emerged in a court filing at a High Court division in London, where Qatar Airways sued Airbus in December.

The Gulf airline is calling for $618 million in contractual compensation from Airbus over the partial grounding, plus $4 million for each day the 21 jets remain out of service.

The claim includes $76 million for one aircraft alone - a five-year-old A350 that was due to be re-painted in livery for the 2022 World Cup, which Qatar is hosting later this year.

That aircraft has been parked in France for a year needing 980 repair patches after the aborted paint job exposed gaps in the lightning shield, industry sources say.

The largest customer for Europe's premier long-haul jet claims Airbus failed to provide a valid root-cause analysis.

The jets feature a layer of copper mesh under the paint to prevent lightning - which strikes planes on average once a year - from damaging the carbon-composite fuselage, which is lighter but less conductive than traditional metal.

Airbus said it understood the cause and would "deny in total" the airline's complaint. It has accused the airline, once one of its most highly courted customers, of trying to mischaracterize the problems as a safety concern.

"Airbus restates there is no airworthiness issue," a spokesperson said, adding this had been confirmed by European regulators.

Shares in the European planemaker closed down 1.5% on Thursday January 6.

Qatar Airways, which originally ordered a total of 80 A350s, had no immediate comment.

The airline has long had a reputation as a demanding buyer, sporadically rejecting deliveries for quality reasons.

But the 30-page complaint details an unusual collapse of relations between two of aviation's most powerful players.

The dispute widened in November when a Reuters investigation revealed at least five other airlines had discovered surface flaws, prompting Airbus to set up an internal task force and to explore a new anti-lightning design for future A350 planes.

Qatar is so far the only country to ground some of the jets.

Under aviation rules, the manufacturer's primary regulator - in this case the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) - oversees an aircraft's design. Regulators in nations across the world monitor local airlines and their individual aircraft.

The complaint detailed how the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA) had withdrawn airworthiness approval for individual A350 planes in a series of letters from June 2021.

It said the QCAA had told the airline that the deterioration of airplanes was "disturbing, if not alarming." The regulator had also said it was "deeply concerned" that safety could be compromised because of a lack of analysis or permanent fix.

It is the first evidence of the stance of Qatar's regulator, which has not commented in public. Europe's EASA, by contrast, has said it has not yet found evidence of airworthiness issues.

Airbus has appeared to question the QCAA's independence from the state-owned airline, saying the decision to drag safety into a technical matter put at risk global safety protocols.

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker insisted in November that Qatar's regulator was driving safety decisions and that the row had caused a "serious dent" in operations.

The airline has started bringing mothballed A380s out of retirement as it prepares to cope with the soccer World Cup.

News by Reuters, edited by Hospitality Ireland. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.

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