Flight warning: Airlines ‘won’t survive’ second lockdown warns expert

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A travel expert has warned that “several” airlines won’t survive the second lockdown recently imposed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Speaking on Sky News, Paul Charles stated that a winter lockdown would make it “tougher” for airlines to resume services once travel is given the go-ahead.

“Several won’t survive across Europe and globally simply because winters are always cruel in the travel sector,” he said.

“It is a time when you don’t see as much demand so if you have a good summer you can rely on the fact that that money from the summer will carry you through what is usually a harsh winter.

“But this winter is going to be tougher than any that airlines have faced before.”

He blames a lack of clear direction given by the Government, in part, for these major struggles.

“They don’t have visibility on when things are going to be back to normal,” he pointed out.

“They have fewer aircraft flying anyway so there is less money coming in,” he continued.

“There is something like 60 to 70 percent of the world aircraft grounded at the moment and in storage because there isn’t the demand.

“And as a result airline bosses have to make the decision, do you put your staff and crews and pilots back on furlough or do you actually just say: ‘We can’t carry on like this.

“We’re not going to see demand recover before April or May next year’, hopefully when there is a vaccine or better testing in place. We’re just going to have to really shrink down our operations’.”

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He adds that a lack of “confidence” us seeing fewer people booking for the future.

“They don’t know when it is going to end,” he said.

It’s a worrying picture for future holidays, with the prospect that fewer travel providers would mean a serious increase in the cost of flights.

What’s more, insight from the Airports Council International Europe (ACI Europe), which works to represent airport operators, found that 193 of the 740 airports in Europe are facing “insolvency in the coming months” if passenger traffic does not pick up.

Budget airline Ryanair has reported an 80 percent decline in passenger numbers during the pandemic.

The airline has since been forced to halt the majority of flights from Ireland’s domestic airports, with the exception of Dublin.

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has slammed the Government’s handling of the crisis, describing it as a “government mismanagement”.

Today, he suggested the airline come forward and cover the costs of flight refunds for passengers themselves.

Speaking on the BBC, he said: “If the flights are operating there won’t be any refunds, although they will be able to avail of our change policy.

“We allow people to change their flight timings to flights on later dates if necessary. But if the flight is operating there won’t be any refunds.”

Emma Coulthurst from holiday price comparison site, TravelSupermarket: Last night’s decision has left people’s holidays in November and the travel industry’s imminent business not just frayed or ragged but in shreds. One minute, just a little more than a week ago, Grant Shapps tells the British public that they could now travel for leisure to the Canaries.

“On the back of this permission, people, many of whom haven’t gone away for months, decide to book a break in November – tens of thousands of people. The return of the Canaries was heralded as a glimmer of light for the industry and for holidaymakers. Now that is torn to pieces.

“Clearly, you could argue that the virus means that decisions need to be made suddenly. But, the UK Government should surely have seen a week ago that it shouldn’t have been reopening travel corridors if there was a possibility that it would need to then completely reverse that decision and implement a lockdown.

“The Canaries have very few cases of the virus, were laying out the red carpet for the British public to come and have strict coronavirus measures in place – even stricter than the UK with face coverings required in public unless you’re sitting down – to restrict the spread of covid.

“The British Government were saying it was OK to travel there. Would-be holidaymakers fairly took the view that there was less of a risk implementing hands, face and space and catching the virus there than being at home.

“As well as a terrible time for consumers, it is an awful time for the UK domestic and outbound travel industry too. They had no pre-warning about last night’s decision as it was taken very suddenly.

“Much of the industry was already operating with less than 50 percent of its normal levels of business and for some even less. You also need to really feel for anyone who relies on their living from the tourism industry here and overseas – entertainers, hotel and bar workers etc. Covid has wreaked devastation on so many people’s lives.”

Boris Johnson states the current travel ban and lockdown measures will only last until December 2 when the regional tier system will be reimplemented.

However, Michael Gove has suggested it will go on longer, telling the BBC that the December 2 date is one looked upon with “fervent hope”.

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