Hospitality Ireland presents a round-up of global travel, airline and aviation news.
Australian Border Openings Boost Demand For Flights
Australia's planned reopening of state and international borders has led to a surge in flight searches and bookings, Virgin Australia and travel website Skyscanner said on Wednesday October 27.
Virgin Australia said demand for domestic flights leapt by 125% in the past four weeks. Demand for flights to New Zealand were up by nearly 100% and for the Indonesian island of Bali by 217%, though quarantines remain in place in those destinations.
Skyscanner said international flight search volumes from Australia had jumped 128% in the month since the government said fully vaccinated citizens and permanent residents would be able to leave the country without special permission from November.
Travellers returning to Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra will also no longer need to quarantine from Nov. 1.
Paul Whiteway, senior director for APAC at Skyscanner, said steps toward the travel opening for Australians had accelerated, with foreign airlines bringing forward flight schedules and more destinations opening to fully-vaccinated travellers.
Singapore said on Tuesday October 26 it would allow quarantine-free entry to travellers vaccinated against COVID-19 from Australia from Nov. 8.
"We've seen a steady increase in searches to Singapore as travellers were hoping for this latest exciting news," Whiteway said.
Virgin Australia said it planned to resume international services for the first time since the pandemic began with flights to Fiji on Dec. 16 as quarantine rules relax.
It will also renew frequent flyer partnerships with several international airlines that had been paused during the pandemic, when it went through a Chapter 11-like restructuring process and was bought by U.S. private equity group Bain Capital.
Qantas Airways Ltd, Air Canada and Hawaiian Airlines have also announced plans to resume regular passenger flights to and from Australia.
Singapore Airlines Ltd and Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd have opened seats for sale on flights to Sydney and Melbourne that had been used for cargo only or carried a small number of passengers due to previous caps.
Russians Opt For Foreign Beach Breaks Over COVID Curbs
Facing the toughest restrictions since the early months of the pandemic, many Russians have decided that now is an ideal time to fly off for a foreign beach holiday instead of hunkering down at home.
Workplaces across Russia are due to close in the first week of November for paid "non-working days" to slow the relentless spread of COVID-19. Russia on Wednesday October 27 reported 1,123 new COVID-19 deaths, its highest one-day toll of the pandemic so far.
In Moscow, unvaccinated over-60s have been locked down for four months, and shops other than pharmacies and supermarkets will shut from Thursday until Nov. 7.
An unintended consequence of the tightening curbs - accompanied by appeals to wear masks, observe social distancing and get vaccinated - has been a sharp increase in foreign travel bookings to destinations where Russia's flagship Sputnik V is recognised or where COVID entry requirements are cheap and easy.
"Don't quarantine, but holiday on the beach!" travel company Orange Sun Tour proclaims on its website osttour.ru, which offers breaks in Cyprus, Egypt, Cuba and other destinations.
Travel agent Polina Bondarenko said prices had shot up for trips to all available destinations.
"People are leaving in connection with this lockdown," she told Reuters, saying about 70% of travellers were vaccinated - well above the national level of just over one third.
Mkhissin Rami, a manager at Orange Sun Tour, said the rush had started right after the partial lockdowns were announced last week.
"No one wanted to stay in Moscow, because what can you do here, so demand went up by about five times, for sure," he said.
For Egypt, the most popular destination, the price of a week-long hotel break for two had surged to about 150,000 roubles ($2,130) compared with just over 100,000 normally, he told Reuters.
When asked to comment on the phenomenon of people escaping lockdown by flying abroad, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday that medical professionals had expressed concerns and that there could be epidemiological consequences.
But Peskov said there was no ban on such holidays, none was planned, and that stopping people from moving around freely was an unwelcome measure of last resort.
Holidaymakers interviewed at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport saw no apparent irony in their decision to escape the country just when the government is urging people to curb their movements.
"If we didn't take the trip now, we'd be sitting at home," said Nina, a resident of the Vladimir region east of Moscow, whose previous attempt to holiday in Turkey was thwarted when flights were cancelled last April.
Muscovite Alexandra said she wasn't frightened of COVID risks because hotels were keeping on top of the situation.
"It's not my first holiday this year, it's probably the fifth," she said. "They (hotels) are trying to follow and observe the rules. Plus I'm vaccinated - that won't save you but it will still help. Everything will be great."
Moscow-Bound Egyptair Flight Turns Back After Hoax Threat
A threatening letter that forced an EgyptAir plane bound for Moscow to return to Cairo was found to be a hoax following a security review, Egypt's national carrier said on Wednesday October 27.
Flight MS 729 landed in Cairo airport 22 minutes after taking off earlier on Wednesday October 27.
"After the landing of EgyptAir flight MS 729, model A220-300, it was confirmed that the threat was negative after reviewing the security procedures," the airline said in a statement.
Another plane was prepared for the flight to Moscow and later took off with 93 passengers on board, it added later.
U.S. Holiday Sales Could Hit Record Levels Of Over $800bn - NRF
U.S. holiday sales could rise over 10% this year, a trade body said on Wednesday October 27, as major consumer goods makers and retailers work to prevent supply chain disruptions from leaving shelves empty of in-demand toys and games.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) forecast sales to increase between 8.5% and 10.5%, to between $843.4 billion and $859 billion, during November and December, compared with a previous high of $777.3 billion last year. The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.
Rising income and stronger-than-ever household savings would help people pay more for goods when companies are raising prices to counter inflation, NRF said. It added there is exceptional demand for holiday products, although a survey last week highlighted customers' worry about availability.
"If retailers can keep merchandise on the shelves and merchandise arrives before Christmas, it could be a stellar holiday sales season," NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said.
NRF also said the arrival of international travelers https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-outline-nov-8-international-travel-reopening-vaccination-rules-2021-10-25 would further boost sales.
"That's going to give a jolt to the retail side, because there is a high correlation between international travelers and tourism in the U.S., and retail sales," NRF President Matthew Shay told reporters.
Several retailers had also begun their holiday selling as early as September, warning of longer delivery times and low product availability.
"There may be some categories in which there will be some shortages or which consumers will need to do some switching or trading ... they won't go home empty-handed," Shay said.
Amazon.com Inc has secured more shipping storage, while Levi Strauss & Co has redirected its goods to come in through East Coast ports, away from the congested West Coast.
Trade association ICSC also forecast https://bit.ly/3Blvfv1 an 8.9% increase in November-December sales, expecting total sales to reach $923 billion. It also expects food and beverage establishments to grow 35.4%.
Mexican Airline Unveils Plan To Use New City Airport Championed By President
Mexican airline Volaris said on Wednesday October 27 it would begin offering flights to and from the new planned airport for Mexico City when it is scheduled to open in March 2022.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has championed the still unfinished Felipe Angeles International Airport, about 30 miles (48 km) north of the existing Benito Juarez airport, since cancelling in 2018 a partly-built airport for the city laid out by his predecessor.
The scrapping of the more central airport during the transition to Lopez Obrador's accession roiled Mexico's financial markets and set the tone for the president's often confrontational relations with business in office.
The leftist president argued that the airport project he inherited, which was initially slated to cost $13 billion, was uneconomical and riddled with corruption.
Volaris is Mexico's biggest airline by passenger numbers. It said in a statement it would begin the new flight routes on March 21, 2022, the day the new airport is due to open. The first two routes will be to Tijuana and Cancun.
Critics of the Felipe Angeles hub say its distance from the existing airport could lead to complications with connecting flights, and a number of engineering experts have raised concerns about conflicting flight paths between the two. The government has rejected those concerns.
Britain Plans To Remove Travel 'Red List' And Hotel Quarantine - The Telegraph
Britain plans to remove restrictions such as a travel "red list" of seven countries and hotel quarantine due to a declining COVID-19 threat from abroad, The Telegraph reported on Wednesday October 27.
UK ministers will meet on Thursday to consider removing the final seven countries, including Colombia and Venezuela, from the red list, the report added.
Air New Zealand Suspends Cash Burn Guidance, Draws Down Loan
Air New Zealand Ltd said on Thursday October 28 it had suspended its cash burn guidance due to uncertainty about domestic COVID-19 alert levels and had drawn down another NZ$105 million ($75.22 million) from a government debt facility.
The airline said it was operating around 40% of its domestic network given tough travel restrictions in the country's largest city, Auckland.
"While the near-term situation is uncertain, I am extremely hopeful as we observe our population making great strides in terms of vaccination rates, which is critical to reconnecting New Zealanders with the world," Air New Zealand Chairman Therese Walsh said at the carrier's annual meeting.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said last week New Zealand will end its strict lockdown measures when 90% of its eligible population is fully vaccinated. About 72% of those eligible have been fully vaccinated so far, while nearly 87% have received a first dose.
Air New Zealand last month said it was burning through around NZ$25 million to NZ$35 million of cash a month in the domestic market. The closure of a quarantine-free travel bubble with Australia had led to another NZ$20 million to NZ$25 million a month in cash burn, it said at the time.
The airline has access to a NZ$1.5 billion debt facility from the government, which is also its majority shareholder.
Air New Zealand said NZ$455 million had been drawn to date. It forecast that by February 2022 it will have drawn down NZ$900 million due to payments for new aircraft deliveries as well as tax bills that had been deferred.
Malaysia's AirAsia Says Over 20 New Airlines Join Super App
AirAsia Group Bhd has partnered with more than 20 airlines as it builds up its Super App into an online travel agency that also sells flights by competitors, the Malaysian budget airline said on Thursday October 28.
The airlines which joined airasia Super App as partners included Air Canada, Air France, Bamboo Airways, flydubai, KLM, Qatar Airways and Philippine Airlines.
AirAsia said the app has more than 700 airline partners and can reach over 3,000 destinations. It partnered Kiwi.com in 2019, a travel tech firm that allows users to build itineraries to combine flights and ground transportation from more than 800 carriers.
The new partnerships come as international travel gradually reopens after more than a year of slump due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We see a strong V-shape recovery in the coming months," airasia Super App Chief Executive Officer Amanda Woo said at a briefing.
Woo said the app aims to capture a 30% market share and become the top Southeast Asian online travel agency in five years. It competes with online travel agencies like Agoda and Traveloka.
Through the collaborations, AirAsia will offer travel deals to more destinations outside its network across Europe, Oceania, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas.
Norwegian Air's Q3 Revenue Rises As Travel Picks Up
Norwegian Air reported a 68% rise in third-quarter revenue on Thursday October 28, as European travel gradually recovers from the pandemic, and the airline said it would continue to scale up following a brush with bankruptcy that slashed its business.
The budget carrier's sales for July-September amounted to 1.52 billion Norwegian crowns ($180 million), up from 905 million crowns a year ago when travel remained severely restricted by COVID-19 lockdowns.
The pandemic sent the indebted airline into bankruptcy proceedings last year, forcing it to terminate its transatlantic network before emerging in a slimmed-down version in May 2021.
"We are now in a strong financial position going into the traditionally more challenging winter months," Chief Executive Geir Karlsen said in a statement.
"We have seen a positive trend in forward bookings month on month and an increasing number of passengers are choosing to fly Norwegian across our European network," he added.
Bookings have risen in response to vaccinations and the relaxation of travel restrictions, and the company said it expected its available seat kilometres (ASK), a key capacity metric, to rise to 29 billion in 2022 from 18.2 billion in 2020.
Year-to-date for 2021, ASK stood at just 4.8 billion kilometres.
Norwegian's court-ordered restructuring, which was also supported by Norway's government, cut the airline's fleet to 51 aircraft from around 160, but the company said on Wednesday it had agreed to lease a further 13 planes to support growing demand.
"Supported by the positive development in demand and strong booking curve, the company intends to continue the ramp-up plans in the fourth quarter, increasing the fleet to a peak of 50 short-haul aircraft in operation before the end of 2021 and ramp-up to around 70 short-haul aircraft in 2022," it said on Thursday.
Norwegian's debt was reduced by around 80% during reconstruction as creditors took control, but the company now faces fresh competition from Flyr <FLYR-ME.OL> on domestic routes in Norway and some foreign destinations.
The company has cash and cash equivalents of 7.6 billion crowns, and said cash burn would be low during the traditionally loss-making winter season.
'Back To Work': Airline Staff Look Forward To Thailand's Nov 1 Reopening
From engineers to pilots, Thailand's aviation industry is gearing up for a grand reopening on Monday November 1 when the tourism-reliant country will welcome vaccinated arrivals without quarantine, ending nearly 19 months of strict entry rules.
"It's something everybody's waiting for," said Puttipong Prasarttong-Osoth, president of the Thai airline association, which has seven members, including Thai Smile Airways, Thai AirAsia and Thai VietJet Air.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha announced this month that vaccinated arrivals from 46 countries would be allowed entry without quarantine from November.
Airlines have responded quickly, bringing back jets from hibernation, or long-term parking, where they have been kept with their engines covered for protection and systems wound down.
"It is in our DNA, it's easy to come back and reinstate," said Thai AirAsia Head of Engineering Banyat Hansakul, referring to the routine of preparing the planes. "It's like riding a bicycle."
Already, Thai AirAsia had been using 10 jets from its fleet of 60, while Bangkok Airways was flying 13 planes of a total 38, mostly for domestic travel after a pilot project that reopened Phuket and Samui islands in July.
Both airlines expect to use more planes in the months ahead anticipating greater travel with passengers from neighbouring Cambodia, Singapore and Malaysia as restrictions ease.
Flag carrier Thai Airways International Pcl has rolled out a winter schedule with Bangkok routes to London, Munich, Sydney and Tokyo.
Though optimism about initial tourist arrival numbers is tempered, with other countries still observing quarantine measures, Thai AirAsia pilot Wirote Teerawattananon, 30, said he was content.
"I'm happy to go back to flying again, tourists are coming back, so we get to come back to work," he said.
Thailand welcomed about 40 million foreign arrivals in 2019. This year the government is targeting just 100,000.
COVID-19 has cost Thailand, one of Asia's most popular destinations, an estimated $50 billion a year in tourism revenue. Its airlines have also suffered heavy losses.
Thai Airways and low-cost affiliate Nok Air Pcl are undergoing bankruptcy-protected restructuring. Another airline, NokScoot, entered liquidation last year.
"I'm really looking forward to the return of foreigners," said Thai AirAsia crew member, Kohchamon Pithayapipat. "Foreign spending can provide income to even small and medium businesses."
Some Airlines Risk Failure If They Do Not Cut Emissions Faster - Industry Report
Some airlines risk failure if they do not cut carbon emissions quicker in the next three to five years due to a mismatch between short-term corporate travel targets and the airline industry's 2050 net zero target, an industry report said.
Airlines are also at a rising risk of shareholder activism at a time when major fund managers such as BlackRock Inc , Vanguard Group Inc and State Street Corp have publicly expressed concerns about climate change, the report from CAPA Centre for Aviation and Envest Global released on Wednesday October 27 said.
"The pressure from customers and governments and investors is going to probably demand an acceleration of the journey to net zero, which is clearly going to put pressure on airlines," said David Wills, advisory executive director at Australian carbon reduction strategy firm Envest.
"The conditions are right for airlines who get it wrong to find themselves in a potential failure situation," he added.
Several companies, such as HSBC Holdings plc, Zurich Insurance Group Ltd, Bain & Company and S&P Global Inc, have already announced plans to quickly cut business travel emissions by as much as 70%.
Qantas Airways Chief Executive Alan Joyce said last week that his airline was developing a 2030 emissions target.
"Our view is that smart airlines will pivot to reinforcing not only 2050 but enhancing their definitive views on 2030, because they will be looking to engage with their corporate customers more," said Brett Mitsch, Envest's executive director of investment.
The CAPA/Envest report found the top quartile of 52 global airlines examined emitted an average of 30% less per passenger kilometre flown in 2019 than those in the bottom quartile.
Low-cost carriers like Wizz Air, Ryanair and AirAsia with newer fleets and higher load factors were among the best performers, while the worst included Turkish Airlines, Japan Airlines Co Ltd (JAL) and British Airways.
JAL said it was introducing more fuel efficient planes and looking to secure more sustainable aviation fuel to meet a target of lowering absolute emissions by at least 10% from its 2019 levels by 2030.
The CAPA/Envest report said JAL was able to break even with a carbon price of more than $160 per tonne based on 2019 earnings, whereas many airlines with lower profit margins would have reported a loss at a carbon price of $30 per tonne.
Travel Group TUI Completes €1.1bn Capital Increase
Travel company TUI Group has successfully completed a capital increase that raised about €1.1 billion to reduce pandemic-related debt, it said on Thursday October 28.
TUI said the group's share capital will increase nominally by around €523.5 million to just under €1.623 billion as a result of the rights issue.
It said 97.7% of the subscription rights were exercised with its largest shareholder, the Mordashov family, increasing its stake by around one percentage point to around 33%.
The company will use the proceeds to repay part of more than €4 billion of government loans that it took out to stay afloat after COVID-19 stopped holidays in Europe for much of last year and the beginning of this year.
A return of holiday travel within Europe this summer gave TUI the confidence to proceed with an equity raise, which it had said would leave it better placed to take advantage of the recovery.
Earlier this month, German airline Lufthansa said it had wrapped up a €2.16 billion capital increase and used the proceeds to repay €1.5 billion euros in state aid, banking on a rebound in air travel.
IAG Offers Concessions To allay EU Concerns Over Air Europa Deal
British Airways and Iberia owner International Airlines Group's has offered concessions to address EU antitrust concerns over its 500-million-euro ($579.6 million) bid for Spain's Air Europa, a European Commission filing showed on Thursday October 28.
IAG put in its offer on Wednesday October 27. The EU executive, which did not provide details in line with its policy, extended its deadline for a decision on the deal to Jan. 4.
IAG signed a deal with Spanish airline Volotea in March last year to buy several of IAG's routes to bolster competition on the domestic market in an attempt to allay regulatory concerns but did not detail which routes.
The EU antitrust watchdog is now expected to seek feedback from rivals and customers before deciding whether to accept IAG's offer or demand more concessions in return for the green light.
It had previously said the deal would reduce competition on Spanish domestic and international routes.
Asia Reopening Boosts Travel, Fashion Brands; Pandemic Winners Take Backseat
Fashion brands and airlines are creeping back into investors' good graces in Asia as lockdowns ease and vaccination rises, boosting travel and leisure activities, taking some shine off pandemic stalwarts such as supermarkets and gadget makers.
Earnings report cards show that people are spending less time watching TV or shopping online for groceries as they resume dining out or plan vacations after emerging from coronavirus curbs. Luxury purchases from China's big spenders, still unable to travel abroad, are also rebounding.
Asia-Pacific airlines are offering more flights as some countries resume domestic travel, and some like Singapore allow quarantine-free travel for select vaccinated visitors. Australia's planned reopening of state and international borders has led to a surge in bookings.
"There is massive demand for loved ones wanting to get together for Christmas," Alan Joyce, CEO of Australia's Qantas Airways said last week. "There is demand for people wanting to take that holiday that they have been looking forward to for nearly two years."
To be sure, a recovery in the tourism sector in Asia is months away and China's huge domestic travel market remains in flux. As well, businesses including McDonald's are still struggling with frequent and temporary curbs that countries impose to control outbreaks.
But airline stocks in the Asia Pacific region climbed nearly 5% over the last three months while global airlines slipped 6% due to a slower-than-expected return of corporate travel.
The broader MSCI All Country Asia Pacific Price Index rose roughly 2% in the same period.
European fashion houses like LVMH and Kering have signaled ongoing strong demand in China as appetite for luxury items remains largely undimmed, despite power shortages and a property sector crisis hurting the economy.
"China's population and its middle classes are increasing and their appetite for beauty is not satisfied," L'Oreal CEO Nicolas Hieronimus said last week.
Hieronimus expects a recent shift in Chinese government policy to narrow the gap between rich and poor to boost the middle class, a sentiment echoed by LVMH.
Japan's Fast Retailing reported record profits in China last quarter, where it will open its first flagship store next month. Japanese cosmetics giant Shiseido Co believes next summer will be a "turning point" as inbound tourists from China return.
Companies globally are struggling with severe labour shortages, supply bottlenecks and marine logjams as economies bounce back from pandemic lows, resulting in a steep rise in costs. A long-running chip shortage has disrupted the auto industry and slammed production at the biggest car makers around the world.
For supermarkets, among the early winners of the pandemic when people scrambled to stockpile food and toilet paper, the rising inflation is likely to offset some of the post-pandemic slowdown.
Australian grocer Woolworths said on Wednesday that food sales started to slow in October. Its shares have fallen 10% since mid-August when the pace of vaccinations started picking up. The stock rose nearly 40% during the 17 months prior, when coronavirus restrictions were in place.
"The big question now is how many people will return to the offices, how will that play out in terms of at-home consumption?", said Morningstar retail analyst Johannes Faul.
Pandemic winners are unlikely to turn losers overnight, though, said Jason Teh, chief investment officer at Vertium Asset Management in Sydney. But work-from-home trends that benefitted companies like Australian electronics retailer JB Hi-Fi were waning as vaccination surged, he said.
China's smartphone sales in the third quarter fell 9% from a year earlier, according to Counterpoint Research.
While pent up demand from supply bottlenecks is likely to support a seasonally strong holiday quarter, sales are starting to slow at chipmakers and component suppliers such as South Korea's Samsung Electronics and LG Display.
"LCD panels for televisions are expected to see further drops in the fourth quarter as vaccinated people have begun to spend less time in front of screens," said Park Sung-soon, Seoul-based analyst at Cape Investment & Securities.
Britain Drafts COP26 Deal On Global Aviation Emissions
Britain is asking countries to push for a global target to cut aviation emissions to levels compatible with the Paris Agreement, under a deal due to be announced at the COP26 climate change summit, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.
As COP26 host, Britain is rallying countries to join an "International Aviation Climate Ambition Coalition" and agree to push the United Nations' aviation agency to set a long-term target to reduce emissions from international flights.
Countries that sign the deal would commit to supporting the adoption by the UN's International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) of an "ambitious long-term aspirational goal that is compatible with net-zero global emissions by 2050", the draft said.
The aim is to build momentum for ICAO to set tougher climate targets when its nearly 200 member countries meet in September 2022.
The Paris Agreement does not explicitly address international aviation emissions, but commits countries to limit global temperature increases to 2C this century and aim for 1.5C.
To meet the 1.5C goal, which would avoid the worst impacts of climate change, scientists say combined global CO2 emissions from all sectors would need to be reduced to net zero by 2050.
Montreal-based ICAO is facing pressure to toughen its climate goals. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres this month blasted the agency's plans as too weak and urged it to set "more ambitious and credible targets".
"Current commitments are not aligned with the 1.5-degree goal of the Paris Agreement. In fact, they are more consistent with warming way above 3 degrees," Guterres said, referring to both ICAO and the U.N shipping agency's climate aims.
ICAO sits at the centre of a global system of widely agreed norms, but is not a regulator in its own right.
The U.K.-led declaration would also commit countries to try to "strengthen" ICAO's flagship scheme for addressing international aviation emissions, known as CORSIA.
The U.K. government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
An ICAO spokesman said it "encourages all initiatives by states to enhance the sustainability of their aviation sectors".
The draft did not specify which countries would join the coalition, but it said the United States had been involved in the talks.
"A broad range of states in other world regions have been contacted to sign the declaration, with some positive responses," it said.
The U.S. Department of Transportation did not respond to a request for comment.
Global airlines agreed a net-zero 2050 goal in Boston earlier this month. But in what is widely seen as a dry run for efforts to reach a matching political deal at ICAO, China's state-owned airlines argued against the airline target.
"If Brazil, Russia, India or China signed on to it, that would be a very big deal," said a source familiar with the U.K.'s efforts, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "It would make it far more likely to get a good deal at the (ICAO) assembly."
Officials from the 27 European Union countries will consider signing the declaration on Thursday. The European Commission could not immediately be reached for comment.
The so-called coalition is one of a set of deals Britain is trying to strike among clusters of countries at the U.N. climate summit, which runs from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Each one will address a key cause of planet-warming emissions - such as burning coal, or deforestation - and attempt to bring it in line with the deep emissions cuts needed to limit temperature increases to 1.5C.
Some campaigners said the draft aviation deal was a positive step, but warned that voluntary targets were no substitute for binding regulations to curb pollution from flights.
"A target doesn't mean anything if you don't have a policy to enforce it," said Transport & Environment aviation manager Jo Dardenne.
Gilles Dufrasne, policy officer at Carbon Market Watch, said the draft deal had "several good elements" but did not oblige countries to address international aviation in their national climate targets.
An ICAO target, while not binding, would aim to push governments to take action to clean up the sector, like funding the production of sustainable aviation fuels. Low-carbon fuels are seen as crucial to cut emissions from flights, but their uptake has been hampered by factors including sky-high costs.
Many countries do not include emissions from international flights in their national climate targets, although some are planning tougher policies.
The EU is negotiating proposals to end tax exemptions for jet fuel and force suppliers to blend low-carbon fuels into their kerosene. Britain has said it will start counting international aviation emissions in its national carbon budgets.
Airbus Clings To Jet Delivery Goal Despite Supply Snags
Airbus overcame new snags in its global supply chain to maintain a widely watched forecast for 600 jet deliveries this year, pushing its shares higher despite signs of labour shortages as the economy exits COVID-19 "hibernation".
The world's largest planemaker lifted full-year profit and cash targets after profits held up better than expected in the third quarter, and refused to bow to industry critics who have questioned its bullish forecasts for jet production.
Airbus shares opened up around 3%, ignoring a retreat in global stocks after a series of supply chain warnings, before easing back to stand 1% higher.
Chief Executive Guillaume Faury said the recovery towards pre-crisis output levels was under way after 15 months in which the European group kept its foot on the brake to avoid adding to a glut of aircraft during the airline industry's worst crisis.
"We observe labour shortages around the world impacting all sectors," Faury told reporters.
"We are now in the ramp-up and we see all the difficulties of going from a sort of hibernation, and back to business in a world where many commodities and sectors are ramping up again."
Airbus said it was facing some problems in receiving parts on time, leading to rework on jets and contributing to a recent flattening of deliveries, but said none appeared systemic.
"We think these can be managed in the last months of the year," Faury said.
Analysts said that after years of turmoil in aerospace, with Boeing in particular still facing industrial problems, the decision to maintain deliveries provided a boost.
"It's essentially back to 'deliver, make profit, repeat,' said Agency Partners analyst Sash Tusa.
Airbus reported a 19% drop in third-quarter operating profit to €666 million as revenues slipped 6% to €10.518 billion. It said it was looking for full-year operating profit of €4.5 billion and free cashflow of €2.5 billion, up from previous targets of €4 billion and €2 billion, respectively.
Analysts were on average expecting operating profit of €623 million, based on a company-compiled consensus.
Airbus rounded up its main A320-family production target to 65 a month by summer 2023, carving out some room for slippage in the timetable. In May, it had said it was planning a firm rate of 64 a month by second-quarter 2023.
Airbus insisted it remained on the same overall trajectory. It sees a rebound in air travel demand, especially in the busy A320 category where Boeing's 737 competes.
But it remains locked in a dispute with suppliers and leasing companies over its ambitions to raise rates as high as 75 a month by 2025.
Engine makers and lessors have protested, saying the proposal risks overheating the market and damaging their own businesses, which depend heavily on the life of older planes.
Some in the industry privately accuse Airbus of dumping jets to snatch market share from troubled Boeing - something Airbus denies, saying its output decisions are fully underpinned by demand.
Boeing, whose rates are capped at lower levels as it also recovers from an overlapping safety crisis, implicitly weighed in on Wednesday October 27 when Chief Executive Dave Calhoun warned of a "supply-constrained world" from second-half 2022 through 2023.
"We know that there are a lot of views on this but we have our own views, and our own view is that the demand supports rate 75, but we need to look at the supply chain situation," Airbus' Faury said.
He did not say whether Airbus still aimed to reach that level by 2025, but later told analysts: "We are considering 70, 75 moving forward because we see the very strong demand for the 320 moving far away in the second half of the decade".
Sources say the clash between leasing companies or suppliers and Airbus reflects contrasting interests, pushed to boiling point by the crisis. Planemakers make money on new sales rather than relying on older jets to generate repairs and rent.
Lessors step in when times are hard and they fear jets being devalued by overproduction. Some critics accuse them of hoarding future production slots, even when they say there is no demand.
In large-jet programmes, Airbus said it would lift depressed A330 output from two a month to almost three at end-2022. It reiterated it would raise flagship A350 output from five to six a month but delayed this to early 2023 from autumn 2022.
U.S. Agency Ramps Up Fines For Travellers Failing To Wear Masks
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said Thursday October 28 it has recently ramped up proposed fines for travellers failing to wear masks at airports and in other transit modes.
The TSA said it has proposed $85,990 fines for 190 mask violators through Monday after more than 5,000 reported incidents since February 2 and issued warnings to more than 2,200.
On Monday October 25, two U.S. lawmakers in the House of Representatives disclosed TSA had issued just $2,350 in total fines to 10 passengers through mid-September, despite thousands of reports of airport travellers failing to comply.
House Homeland Security Committee chairman Bennie Thompson and Bonnie Watson Coleman, who chairs the House transportation subcommittee, said despite 4,102 reports of mask-related incidents TSA had issued just 10 fines through Sept. 13.
"We urge you to implement these enhanced penalties to curb the rising number of mask-related disruptive passenger incidents," the lawmakers wrote.
The TSA said Thursday it has "taken steps to make enforcement and compliance more meaningful, including by increasing the penalties, reducing the processing time from receipt of incident reports to the issuance of enforcement actions and frequent and routine interaction with air carriers to improve incident reporting."
The agency also said almost 200 people have faced criminal penalties. TSA Administrator David Pekoske in July said since the start of the pandemic there have been over 85 physical assaults on TSA officers.
In August, the TSA extended mask requirements on airplanes, trains and buses and at airports and train stations through Jan. 18 to address COVID-19 risks.
The requirements, first imposed in early February, have been the source of some friction, especially aboard U.S. airlines, where some travellers have refused to wear masks.
The Federal Aviation Administration, which has instituted a "zero tolerance" enforcement effort on unruly passengers, through Monday has received 4,941 unruly passenger reports - including 3,580 mask-related incidents.
Last month, the TSA said it was doubling penalties for violating the transportation mask mandate: $500-$1000 for first offenders and $1000-$3000 for second offenders.
PREVIEW - Higher Ticket Prices, Onboard Spending To Keep Royal Caribbean Afloat
Higher on-board spending and ticket
prices are set to drive up revenue for Royal Caribbean Group
when it reports quarterly earnings on Friday, as cruise
operators inch toward full capacity.
The cruise operator was the first to resume sailing from
U.S. ports in June and has plans to put into service four-fifths
of its capacity although at reduced occupancy by the end of the
"Typically, 1/3 of gross revenue is from onboard, so a
material lift to this revenue stream would certainly move the
needle," J.P. Morgan analyst Brandt Montour said, adding higher
ticket prices would offset some lost revenue from low occupancy.
Last month, rival Carnival Corp said onboard
spending made up for nearly half of its $546 million revenue in
the third quarter, much higher than revenue of $50 million in
the prior three months when operations were starting to resume.
Onboard services include cruise ships include bar, casino,
shops, spa, internet services and a range of retail shops that
sell high-end watches and handbags among other luxury items.
However, a quick business rebound is likely to be hampered
by a shortage of travel agents in the United States. Experts
said staffing on the ships may not be much affected by the labor
shortage as many are overseas workers.
** Royal Caribbean is expected to report onboard spending of
$226.6 million, according to Refinitiv data
** The U.S. cruise liner is expected to report third-quarter
revenue of $612.15 million on Oct. 29 and a smaller adjusted
loss of $4.16 per share.
WALL STREET SENTIMENT
** The current average analyst rating on Royal Caribbean shares
is "buy", with six analysts rating it "hold", eight "buy" or
higher and three "sell"
** Wall Street's median 12-month price target is $92
** The Royal Caribbean's shares have risen nearly 12% this year
QUARTER STARMIN REFINIT ACTUAL BEAT, MET, SURPRISE
ENDING E IV IBES MISSED %
Jun. 30 2021 -4.34 -4.39 -5.06 Missed -15.3
Mar. 31 2021 -4.53 -4.62 -4.44 Beat 4
Dec. 31 2020 -5.25 -5.20 -5.02 Beat 3.4
Sep. 30 2020 -5.11 -5.12 -5.62 Missed -9.7
Royal Caribbean Revenue Disappoints As Delta Variant Hits Ticket Sales
Royal Caribbean Group missed market estimates for quarterly revenue on Friday October 29, as people were apprehensive about going on cruises due to the fast-spreading COVID-19 Delta variant.
Cruise ships have been sailing from U.S. ports again since late June with mostly vaccinated guests and crew, but some onboard cases and a spike in COVID-19 infections have raised worries about the industry's fortunes in the near term.
Regular testing has helped cruise lines ensure isolated cases of the novel coronavirus do not become a full-blown outbreak, even as the response to resumption of U.S. cruising has been mixed.
Royal Caribbean's total revenue was about $457 million in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, versus estimates of $567 million, according to Refinitiv IBES. The Celebrity Cruises parent had recorded a negative revenue of $33.7 million a year earlier as it reversed previously recorded income due to refunds and cancellations.
Adjusted net loss was $4.91 per share, compared with estimates of $4.41. Passenger ticket revenue was $280.2 million, compared with estimates of $498.8 million.
Analysts, however, expect pent-up demand and strong household savings to aid the recovery of the cruise industry. Royal Caribbean said on Friday booking volumes improved after the Delta variant had caused a slowdown during the summer.
Royal Caribbean, which became the first major cruise operator to resume operations from U.S. ports in June, said sailings for 2022 have been booked within historical ranges and pricing remains strong throughout the year.
"As cases have come down, demand has come surging back. Consumers are showing their resilience and desire to vacation," Chief Financial Officer Jason Liberty said.
Shares fell 1% in premarket trading on Friday October 29.
Saudi Arabia In Talks With Automakers On Plant Plans, Minister Says
Saudi Arabia is in talks with several carmakers about manufacturing in the country, Saudi Investment Minister Khalid al-Falih told Reuters, with an announcement expected this year.
The discussions are part of plans to attract foreign investment to support the transformation of Saudi Arabia's economy and diversify it away from oil.
"A car manufacturer will be announced before year-end, and following that there will be another one or two car manufacturers, and they will be cars of the future", Falih said.
Luxury electric car maker Lucid is evaluating the opportunity for manufacturing in Saudi Arabia, but the company's board has to decide based on the economics and competitiveness of choosing the Saudi market, the minister said.
"We hope they'll chose the kingdom, it’s no secret they are evaluating the kingdom, they're evaluating other countries, and at the end of the day they'll make up a decision," Falih said during an interview with Reuters.
The July listing of Lucid, which aims to compete with Tesla , was a huge dividend for Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), its main state investor, which invested more than $1 billion in the company in 2018 for a substantial stake and invested more in February.
PIF, at the centre of Saudi plans to create new economic sectors and jobs, is working on creating a new national airline that will focus on Riyadh as its hub, Falih said.
There will be major investments in the creation of a new airport in the Saudi capital as part of a strategy aimed at boosting the city's attractiveness, he added.
"Riyadh has a fresh strategy and can start with a fresh airline", he said.
Attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) is crucial for Saudi plans to wean itself off oil, and the country has a target of $100 billion in annual investment by 2030.
Falih said FDI in the first half of 2021 has already exceeded targets for this year.
"It’s like a staircase, we’re climbing a staircase. We’re fixing the system, we’re preparing the deals, we’re engaging the companies... I wouldn’t be surprises if we see $100 billion annual before 2030", he said.
Saudi Arabia's net FDI totalled $5.5 billion last year.
Flight Comeback Fuels Air France-KLM's Return To Quarterly Core Profit
Air France-KLM returned to core profits in the late summer, beating the Franco-Dutch airline group's own expectations as passenger numbers almost doubled thanks to easing coronavirus travel curbs.
Its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) reached €796 million in July to September, it said on Friday October 29, up from a loss of €442 million in the same period of 2020.
The number of passengers booking flights over the three months close to doubled year-on-year to 16.9 million.
"We had guided for a positive EBITDA, but €800 million exceeded our expectations," finance chief Steven Zaat told journalists in a call.
Air France-KLM predicted that its EBITDA would land positive for the final quarter and "slightly" positive over the whole of 2021.
The group said it had seen a rapid pickup in bookings for November and the Christmas holidays, after the United States announced in September it would reopen its borders to fully vaccinated Europeans.
Autumn reopenings in Canada and Singapore further paved the way for recovery, said Zaat, though long-haul business remained hampered by restrictions in Australia, China and Japan.
The group also whittled down its net debt to 8.1 billion euros by the end of September, down €2.9 billion from the end of 2020.
Air France-KLM last year received a total of €10.4 billion in loans backed by France and the Netherlands, and has for months been discussing a recapitalisation plan to lighten the resulting debt load.
It said it had agreed to pay back €500 million of a state-backed loan within the coming weeks, and the remaining €3.5 billion in three instalments between 2023 and 2025.
The group said it was considering another rights issue under good market conditions, after a capital hike earlier in the year saw the French government more than double its stake to just under 30%.
Nordic Airline Wideroe Launches Unit For Emissions-Free Flying
Wideroe, the Nordics' largest regional airline, is setting up a subsidiary to help it develop an emissions-free airline business, its chief executive told Reuters.
Privately-owned Wideroe serves short-haul routes in a sparsely populated region with few train lines and challenging geography. It has 40 Bombardier Dash 8 propeller planes and 3 Embraer E190-E2 jets.
Wideroe plans to have its first zero-emissions plane flying in 2026 and aims to replace its 26 Dash 8-100 and -200, which will be obsolete between 2030 and 2035, with zero-emissions planes, either electric or using hydrogen as fuel.
Called Wideroe Zero and launching on Friday, the new company would help Wideroe achieve its aim of a zero-, or near-zero, emissions fleet, Chief Executive Stein Nilsen said in an interview.
"To be free to think outside the box we decided to establish a new company with the main target of finding this path to find a more sustainable (business)," he said.
Wideroe Zero would also try to find new market opportunities, he added, when the airline industry, which accounts for 2.5% of global CO2 emissions in 2018, according to Our World in Data, is under pressure to be more sustainable.
New technologies are disrupting the industry too, Nilsen said, citing the emergence of electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL) as an example of the rapid change that Wideroe wants to take advantage of.
"As a short-haul airline, this is very interesting for us," said Nilsen. "We need to be prepared for something more disruptive in the market place for our niche."
The planned switch coincides with upheaval in the Nordic airlines industry, with major carriers Norwegian Air and SAS restructuring operations and newcomers such as Flyr and Play launching following the disruption caused by the pandemic.
Air France-KLM Sees Positive Earnings On Transatlantic Rebound
Air France-KLM should return to core profit this year, the Franco-Dutch airline group said on Friday October 29, after a rebound in passenger bookings over the summer helped it beat its earnings forecasts for the third quarter.
The group predicted "slightly" positive earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) in 2021, after posting a €1.7 billion loss last year.
Shares were up nearly 5% in morning trading on Friday October 29. Analysts said the quarterly results were a positive surprise, fuelled by strong demand and cost cuts.
The company aims to cut around 14,000 jobs - nearly a fifth of its workforce - across its French and Dutch arms by the end of next year.
A reopening of U.S. borders to vaccinated Europeans ahead of the Christmas holidays helped it to forecast positive EBITDA for the last three months of 2021, cementing a profit of nearly €800 million during the late summer.
The number of passengers booking flights over the quarter nearly doubled from 2020 but remained at about half of pre-pandemic levels.
Finance chief Steven Zaat said the results were a "very good signal for the fourth quarter, where we see stronger bookings every week."
The airline estimated its capacity would reach 70% to 75% of 2019 levels in the final quarter, but did not give guidance for 2022 because of uncertainty on reopenings in China and Japan.
The rebound helped Air France-KLM reduce its net debt to 8.1 billion euros by the end of September, down €2.9 billion from the end of 2020.
Last year, the group received €10.4 billion in loans backed by France and the Netherlands - its two biggest shareholders - and has for months discussed a recapitalisation plan to lower debts.
It has pledged to repay €500 million of a state-backed loan in the coming weeks, and the remaining €3.5 billion in three instalments between 2023 and 2025.
The company is also considering another rights issue under good market conditions, six months after an equity raise saw the French government more than double its stake to just under 30%.
State-Owned Airline Tunisair To Lease Four Airbus A320neo Jets
State-owned Tunisair, which has been contending with pandemic-induced financial difficulties, will boost its fleet with four leased Airbus A320neo aircraft to develop its activities, it said on Friday October 29.
State-owned Tunisair has been losing money every year since Tunisia's 2011 revolution, prompting urgent demands to be restructured.
Tunisair plans to lay off 1000 full-time employees starting next year as part of plans to ease its financial difficulties.
The national carrier’s squeezed finances have led to flight delays, a decline in services and the grounding of aircraft because of a lack of spare parts.
Airlines To Cut International Passenger Flights To And From China For New Season
China will allow 408 scheduled international passenger flights to and from the country per week in the winter season ending in March next year, down from 644 in the summer season, China's aviation regulator said on Friday October 29.
That is down 21.1% from a year ago when international travel remained heavily depressed due to the surging COVID-19 pandemic.
The announcement will likely douse hopes for any immediate reopening of Chinese borders as more and more countries reopen their economies. China has so far adopted a zero-COVID approach towards sporadic domestic outbreaks, which has far-reaching implications for the Chinese economy.
"The shift of season for international passenger flights will continue to be in line with the relevant requirements from epidemic prevention and control policy and transportation support," said the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) in a statement on its website.
It added that scheduled international flights, which could be reduced by later cancellations, for the new season would be 2.2% of pre-COVID levels.
The CAAC said in August that weekly international flights were about 2% of 2019 levels, as more flights were suspended amid a rising number of imported COVID-19 cases.
The total number of international flights, mostly cargo flights, stood at 6,172 per week, CAAC said on Friday.
The CAAC slashed international flights in March 2020 to allay concerns over rising coronavirus infections. A so-called "Five One" policy allows mainland carriers to fly just one flight a week on one route to any country and foreign airlines to operate just one flight a week to China.
The CAAC has tweaked the policy with flight suspensions or capacity caps for airlines if a certain number of passengers are found to have been infected with COVID-19, or adding flights if an airline does not import any cases.
Air China in September told analysts it expects the CAAC to keep curbs on international passenger flights throughout the first half of 2022.
Japan's ANA Downgrades Full-Year Outlook, To Reduce Staff By 20% Within Five Years
Japan's biggest airline, ANA Holdings Inc, said it expected to report an operating loss in the current financial year, down from an earlier prediction of a profit, and that it would reduce staff numbers by 20% within five years.
The airline on Friday October 29 announced the plans to eliminate 9,000 roles through attrition and retirement as it steps up digital interaction with customers in an investor presentation after reporting a weaker-than-expected first half result due to travel curbs.
The operating loss of 116 billion yen ($1.02 billion) for the six months ended Sept. 30, however, was narrower than a 280.95 billion yen loss a year earlier due to cost-cutting.
ANA, which has reported losses for seven consecutive quarters, said it expected to return to a profit in the fourth quarter due to a forecast recovery in passenger numbers.
But for the 12 months ended March 2022, it expects to report an operating loss of 125 billion yen, down from its earlier guidance for an operating profit of 28 billion.
Before the update, analysts had estimated full-year operating profit of 89.7 billion yen, based on the average of eight forecasts, Refinitiv data showed.
"The revised forecast reflects the findings that projected second-half revenue will not be sufficient to cover lack of revenue during the first half of the fiscal year," the airline said in a statement.
Japan lifted a state of emergency at the end of last month that had been in force across much of the country. While domestic tourism is seen slowly recovering, there is no sign that international travel, particularly inbound tourism, will return in a big way anytime soon.
The country is still under strict regulations preventing most non-resident foreigners, including tourists and business travellers, from entering.
ANA expects domestic passenger numbers to recover to 85% of pre-COVID-19 levels by March but international passengers to reach only 30% of pre-pandemic levels by then.
Companies, notably in tourism and travel, lost out as the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were held after a year's delay this past summer with no spectators or international tourists.
The event had been initially seen as a tourism windfall for Japan, which in recent years had been ramping up efforts to draw more international tourists to help kickstart a moribund domestic economy.
Aena Lowers Expected Cost Of New Retail Tenants Law To €1.35bn
Spanish airport operator Aena said on Friday Friday October 29 the financial impact of a newly-passed law pinning rental income from retail tenants such as duty free shops and restaurants to passenger numbers would be lower than it previously estimated.
The law, approved earlier this month and which applies retroactively from March 15 2020 - when Spain's pandemic state of emergency began - is now expected to cost Aena €1.35 billion, down from a previous estimate of €1.5 billion.
"We will be cancelling invoices and returning money to our commercial tenants," Chief Financial Officer Jose Leo told investors on a conference call following the publication of third-quarter results.
The world's largest airport operator, with 46 airports including Madrid's Adolfo Suarez Barajas in its Spanish network, reported a 6.5% rise in commercial revenue in the first nine months of the year compared to the same period of 2020, but its net loss widened 15% to €123.7 million.
Leo said he expected the majority of leisure traffic through Aena's airports to return in summer 2022 "if things go right". He added that the company's main problem was soaring energy costs, with no impact as yet from the global supply chain and raw materials crunches.
Barring any further complications from the pandemic, Leo said traffic in the first quarter of 2022 should improve from the roughly 40% of 2019 activity expected this year, as airlines beef up their capacity and bet big on the winter season.
Spain's ALA airlines association recently said it expects more flights over the winter period than before the pandemic but warned that rising energy prices and fuel shortages could jeopardise that recovery.
While international tourism to Spain remains at levels around half its pre-pandemic norm, the number of international visitors in September was up 400% from a year ago and the government expects a wider global vaccine rollout and clearer travel rules to entice more travellers next year.
BRIEF-FAA Plans Warnings To Pilots, Airlines Over New 5G Rollout - WSJ
* FAA PLANS WARNINGS TO PILOTS, AIRLINES OVER NEW 5G ROLLOUT – WSJ
Tourists Head To Spanish Island Of La Palma To See Erupting Volcano
Olga Reinoso took advantage of the All Saints Day public holiday to see the erupting volcano on the Spanish island of La Palma but like other tourists she wanted to help islanders whose homes have been destroyed and crops ruined.
Tourists were keen to help La Palma by spending money to boost the island's economy.
"In a passive way, our way to help is to come here to visit the volcano, which is something unique, but we contribute with money by spending money at hotel, restaurants, car rental,” Reinoso, who is from the nearby island of Fuerteventura, told Reuters.
The Canary Islands Volcanic Emergency Plan (Pevolca) has restricted access to the roads near the Cumbre Vieja volcano so that security and emergency teams can operate as visitors arrive for the All Saints' Day weekend.
However, Pevolca has set up a free bus service so people can access the volcano area from a safe distance.
Since the eruption began on Sept. 19, lava from the volcano has covered nearly 900 hectares (2,200 acres) of land, destroying around 2,000 buildings and many banana plantations.
More than 7,000 people have had to evacuate their homes.
CDC Says Unvaccinated Young Foreign Travellers Do Not Need To Quarantine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Saturday that unvaccinated foreign nationals under the age of 18 traveling to the United States by air do not have to self-quarantine upon arrival.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky on Saturday October 30 signed a revised order c that foreign national children who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 do not need to isolate for seven days upon arrival in the United States.
A CDC order issued on Monday October 25 had raised alarm among some foreign travelers that their children would need to quarantine for that long after arriving.
On Nov. 8, the United States is lifting the extraordinary travel restrictions that have barred most non-U.S. citizens who within the last 14 days have been in Britain, the 26 Schengen countries in Europe without border controls, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil. It is also imposing new rules requiring nearly all foreign adult air visitors to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Airlines and others had pressed for the changes for foreign children, saying it would harm international tourism if children had to self-quarantine upon arrival. The exemption from self-quarantine also applies to unvaccinated foreign visitors who are part of clinical trials.
The CDC said earlier this week that non-tourist travelers from nearly 50 countries with nationwide vaccination rates of less than 10% will also be eligible for exemption from the vaccine requirement but will need to self-quarantine for seven days upon arrival.
Those receiving an exemption will generally need to be vaccinated within 60 days after arriving in the United States.
The CDC has said it will accept any vaccine authorized for use by U.S. regulators or the World Health Organization and will accept mixed-dose coronavirus vaccines.
On Friday October 29, the Homeland Security Department said travellers should be prepared for "longer than normal wait times" starting Nov. 8 when the U.S. allows fully vaccinated tourists to cross land borders. The United States has barred non-essential travellers crossing land borders from Mexico and Canada since March 2020.
American Airlines Cancels 1,400 Flights Due To Staff Shortages, Bad Weather
American Airlines said on Saturday October 30 it has cancelled more than 1,400 flights over the weekend due to staff shortages and unfavourable weather.
The U.S. airline said it cancelled 551 flights on Saturday, 480 flights on Sunday, in addition to 376 flights cancelled on Friday. FlightAware, a flight tracking site, said American had also delayed more than 1,000 flights since Friday.
"With additional weather throughout the system, our staffing begins to run tight as crew members end up out of their regular flight sequences," the airline said in a statement.
The company said it expected to get through this period of irregular operations soon.
Heading towards the busy holiday travel season, carriers are working to hire more employees.
American Airlines said it is increasing its staffing across all operations, with nearly 1,800 flight attendants returning from leave and more than 600 newly hired flight attendants coming on board by the end of December.
Southwest also said it was hiring aggressively, with the aim of having about 5,000 new employees by the end of this year.
Earlier this month, Southwest cancelled nearly 2,400 flights over a three-day period, blaming unfavourable weather and air traffic issues in Florida.
COP26: World Will Try Again To Avert Climate Disaster
The United Nations COP26 summit that starts in Glasgow this week has been billed as a make-or-break chance to save the planet from the most calamitous effects of climate change.
Delayed by a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, COP26 aims to keep alive a target of capping global warming at 1.5C above pre-industrial levels - the limit scientists say would avoid its most destructive consequences.
"We need to come out of Glasgow saying with credibility that we have kept 1.5 alive," Alok Sharma, COP26's president, said on Sunday October 29 as delegates began arriving in the Scottish city.
"We're already at global warming at 1.1 degrees above pre-industrial levels," he told Sky News television. "At 1.5 there are countries in the world that will be underwater, and that's why we need to get an agreement here on how we tackle climate change over the next decade."
Meeting the 1.5 C goal, agreed in Paris to much fanfare in 2015, will require a surge in political momentum and diplomatic heavy-lifting to make up for the insufficient action and empty pledges that have characterised much of global climate politics.
The conference needs to secure more ambitious pledges to further cut emissions, lock in billions in climate finance, and finish the rules to implement the Paris Agreement with the unanimous consent of the nearly 200 countries that signed it.
But there is huge work to be done.
At a summit in Rome, leaders of the Group of 20 major economies agreed on a final statement on Sunday that urges "meaningful and effective" action to limit global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius but offers few concrete commitments.
The G20 bloc, which includes Brazil, China, India, Germany and the United States, accounts for an estimated 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
A new pledge last week from China, the world's biggest polluter, was labelled a missed opportunity that will cast a shadow over the two-week summit. Announcements from Russia and Saudi Arabia were also lacklustre.
The return of the United States, the world's biggest economy, to U.N. climate talks will be a boon to the conference, after a four-year absence under President Donald Trump.
But like many world leaders, President Joe Biden will arrive at COP26 without firm legislation in place to deliver his own climate pledge as Congress wrangles over how to finance it and new uncertainty about whether U.S. agencies can even regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
Existing pledges to cut emissions would see the planet's average temperature rise 2.7C this century, which the United Nations says would supercharge the destruction that climate change is already causing by intensifying storms, exposing more people to deadly heat and floods, killing coral reefs and destroying natural habitats.
Adding to the challenging geopolitical backdrop, a global energy crunch has prompted China to turn to highly polluting coal to avert power shortages, and left Europe seeking more gas, another fossil fuel.
Ultimately, negotiations will boil down to questions of fairness and trust between rich countries whose greenhouse gas emissions caused climate change, and poor countries being asked to de-carbonise their economies with insufficient financial support.
COVID-19 has exacerbated the divide between rich and poor. A lack of vaccines and travel curbs mean some representatives from the poorest countries cannot attend the meeting.
Other obstacles - not least, sky-high hotel rates in Glasgow - have stoked concerns that civil society groups from the poorest nations which are also most at risk from global warming will be under-represented.
COVID-19 will make this U.N. climate conference different from any other, as 25,000 delegates from governments, companies, civil society, indigenous peoples, and the media will fill Glasgow's cavernous Scottish Event Campus.
All must wear masks, socially distance and produce a negative COVID-19 test to enter each day - meaning the final-hour "huddles" of negotiatiors that clinched deals at past climate talks are off the table.
World leaders will kick start COP26 on Monday with two days of speeches that could include some new emissions-cutting pledges, before technical negotiators lock horns over the Paris accord rules. Any deal is likely to be struck hours or even days after the event's Nov. 12 finish date.
Outside, tens of thousands of protesters are expected to take to the streets to demand urgent climate action.
Assessing progress will be complex. Unlike past climate summits, the event won't deliver a new treaty or a big "win" but seeks to secure smaller but vital victories on emission-cutting pledges, climate finance and investment.
Ultimately success will be judged on whether those deals add up to enough progress to keep the 1.5C goal alive.
Since the Paris accord, scientists have issued increasingly urgent warnings that the 1.5C goal is slipping out of reach. To meet it, global emissions must plummet 45% by 2030 from 2010 levels, and reach net zero by 2050 - requiring huge changes to countries' systems of transport, energy production, manufacturing and farming. Countries' current pledges would see global emissions soar by 16% by 2030.
Vietnam's Bamboo Airways Says To Launch Direct Services To London From January
Vietnam's Bamboo Airways will launch direct services between the country's two largest cities and London from next year, the company said on Sunday October 31.
The airline will initially conduct six return flights per week from January, connecting business hub Ho Chi Minh City and capital Hanoi with London, Bamboo Airways said in a statement.
It will operate Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft on the new routes, the company said.
American Airlines Cancels Nearly 850 Flights On Sunday October 31
American Airlines cancelled nearly 850 domestic and international flights on Sunday October 31, citing staffing shortages and unfavourable weather, pushing total cancellations to 1,739 and counting since Friday.
A spokeswoman for American, the world's largest airline, said the company had cancelled 848 flights as of 3:00 p.m. EST (1900 GMT) Sunday, more than 16% of its total. That follows 548 trips cancelled by American on Saturday, and 343 on Friday. Sunday's figure could change as the day goes on.
In a letter to employees on Saturday, the Fort Worth, Texas-based company said severe winds at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport reduced arrival capacity by more than half. Additional inclement weather means "our staffing begins to run tight as crew members end up out of their regular flight sequences," the letter said.
Airlines have been tight on staffing due to the coronavirus pandemic that drastically reduced demand for air travel. As normal life resumes, many are ramping back up.
In Saturday's letter, American said nearly 1,800 flight attendants are returning from leave starting on Monday, while more than 600 newly hired flight attendants will be coming on board by the end of the year.
The airline had offered voluntary leave to some employees to help weather the pandemic. It also furloughed 17,500 employees, though those people are now back to work, a company spokeswoman told Reuters on Sunday.
Southwest Airlines Co has also said it is hiring aggressively, aiming to add 5,000 new workers by the end of 2021.
Earlier this month, Southwest cancelled nearly 2,400 flights over a three-day period, blaming bad weather and air traffic issues in Florida.
Bangkok Welcomes First Tourists For Quarantine-Free Holiday
Hundreds of vaccinated foreign tourists are scheduled to arrive in Bangkok on Monday November 1, the first wave of visitors to Thailand in 18 months who will not have to undergo quarantine for the coronavirus.
Seeking to resurrect its pandemic-ravaged tourism economy, Thailand's government has given the green light to vaccinated tourists from more than 60 countries, including the United States and China.
Several European countries are also on the list as officials hope to capitalise on travellers from the northern hemisphere escaping the winter blues.
Thailand, one of the Asia-Pacific's most popular tourist destinations, has for the past 18 months enforced strict pandemic entry rules that have been criticised in the travel industry for being too restrictive and onerous.
Before the pandemic, tourism accounted for about 12% of Thailand's GDP and its capital city was the world's most visited city. The crisis has cost Thailand about three million tourism-dependent jobs and an estimated $50 billion a year in revenue.
Thai officials tested the waters with the reopening of the resort island of Phuket in July, allowing fully-vaccinated tourists to skip the then-mandatory two-week quarantine provided they stay on the island, where tourism accounts for 90% of the local economy.
However, the "Phuket Sandbox " was less popular than officials had hoped, with arrivals to the island in July at just 1% of pre-pandemic levels.
Under the new national programme, arrivals must spend their first night in a pre-approved hotel and receive a negative COVID-19 test before they are able to travel freely to rest of the country.
Airlines have rushed to ready the country for the hoped influx of visitors, bringing jets back from hibernation. Still, the return will be relatively slow. The finance ministry predicts just 180,000 foreign arrivals this year and 7 million next year, compared with some 40 million in 2019.
The majority of Thailand's 1.9 million infections and more than 19,000 coronavirus-related fatalities have been recorded since April. Around 42% of the 72 million population has been vaccinated.
China's Leisure, Tourism Feel Chilly Grip Of COVID Curbs
China's leisure and tourism businesses are feeling the bite of the country's zero tolerance for COVID-19 as cities with infections, or have concerns about the virus, close entertainment venues, restrict tourism or delay cultural events.
Shanghai Disneyland stopped admitting visitors on Monday October 25and Tuesday October 26, and required patrons and staffers in the theme park on Oct. 30-31 to undergo COVID tests immediately, according to state media.
The measures are part of the city's cooperation with a COVID-19 investigation requested by authorities from outside Shanghai, state television reported, without providing further details.
A total of 484 domestically transmitted cases with confirmed symptoms were reported on Oct. 17-31, mostly in the north of China, Reuters calculations based on official data showed on Monday.
Many of the infections have been tourists who travelled across multiple regions, complicating and prolonging contact-tracing efforts.
While the caseload remains miniscule compared with clusters outside China, and the rise in local infections in some regions have started to slow or even stopped in recent days, China is sparing no effort in minimising transmission risks, even at the cost of disrupting businesses and local economies.
As China steps up vaccinations for children and rolls out booster shots, the impact from the current outbreak on economic growth in the fourth quarter will be smaller than in the third, said Nie Wen, a Shanghai-based economist at Hwabao Trust.
Gross domestic product in July-September grew at the slowest in a year, partly due to an outbreak over summer that affected over 40 cities including Nanjing and Yangzhou in Jiangsu province, which bore the brunt of the infections.
China's three biggest airlines on Friday posted deeper losses for July-September due to a domestic travel slump.
Last month, the national tourism authority announced the suspension of travel agencies from organising inter-province trips that involve provincial regions with areas deemed to be at higher risk of the virus, and halted dedicated train services linking tourist attractions.
Many cities with local infections, including the capital Beijing, have halted some indoor leisure venues such as internet cafes, chess and card parlours, as well as cinemas, while a number of marathon races, concerts and theatrical performances have been delayed or cancelled.
Cultural and leisure businesses in some cities that have not detected local cases for a few months are also affected.
In northern Heilongjiang province, where the daily tally of new local infections topped Chinese regions since Oct. 29, Jiamusi city and Mudanjiang city on Oct. 30 announced temporary closure of various indoor entertainment venues.
Yichun, also in Heilongjiang, said tourists arriving from outside for leisure would be barred from entering tourist sites until Nov. 6. The three cities have reported no infections so far from the current outbreak.
In southern Dongguan city, also infection-free for now, an international exhibition centre suspended the hosting of various events.
Shares of China's consumption- and tourism-related companies were down in early trade on Monday. The consumer staples sub-index slipped 1.5%, while the tourism sub-index retreated by more than 4%.
Emirates To Hold Talks With Boeing At Dubai Airshow Over 777X Delays
Emirates will hold talks with Boeing over the delays to its 777X jetliner before and during this month's Dubai Airshow, the state-owned airline's chairman said on Monday October 31.
The airline has repeatedly lambasted Boeing this year over the twin-engined jumbo, which is at least three years behind its originally planned arrival.
Asked by Reuters if Emirates would hold talks with Boeing at the five day air show that starts November 14, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said, "There will be a discussion...before and during the air show."
Emirates last month warned that the uncertainty would cause significant disruption for one of the world's biggest carriers, with its President Tim Clark saying then he did not know when the first of the 126 777X jets Emirates has ordered would arrive.
Emirates is a launch customer for the 777X which it will use to replace the 777 jets that are the backbone of its all-wide-body fleet. Boeing had orginally planned to deliver the 777X in June 2020 but is now targeting late 2023.
In April, Sheikh Ahmed said that some of the 126 777X jets ordered could be swapped for smaller Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
Emirates already revised its order for the 777X in 2019, cancelling orders for 24 of the jets as part of a deal that saw it agree to buy 30 Dreamliners.
Sheikh Ahmed, a senior member of the Dubai's ruling family, also told reporters at a Dubai news conference that he expected to see "good deals" for civil and military contracts announced at the air show, without disclosing details.
He declined to say if Emirates would make any announcements.
The biennial show, this year's biggest aerospace trade show and a spectacle for business deals worth billions of dollars, will take place from Nov 14 to 18 under capacity restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.