COVID-19

Travel industry grapples with cancellations, changes amid COVID-19 outbreak

Justin Ho Mar 2, 2020
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Several airlines, including Delta, are limiting flights due to COVID-19. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
COVID-19

Travel industry grapples with cancellations, changes amid COVID-19 outbreak

Justin Ho Mar 2, 2020
Several airlines, including Delta, are limiting flights due to COVID-19. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

In response to the spread of COVID-19, Delta reduced service to South Korea last week, while United announced it’s limiting service to Japan, Singapore and Seoul, citing a 75% decline in demand for trans-Pacific routes. The International Air Transport Association took data from the SARS outbreak in 2003 and calculates the disease will cost the airline industry $30 billion.

Travel agent John Dekker at the Los Angeles-based Surf City Travel said he’s been tracking lost revenue from flight cancellations for about a week.

“We figured we’ve lost about $65,000 on commissions that we would have earned,” Dekker said. “For a smaller agency that we are, that’s a lot of money.”

If there are enough cancellations, airlines start reconsidering whether the cost of flying is worth it.

“If you don’t have passengers on that plane, if you don’t have cargo being shipped and the revenue coming in from that, it makes no sense to operate a flight,” said Henry Harteveldt, president of Atmosphere Research Group.

United is offering fee waivers for flights to cities in northern Italy, China and South Korea. JetBlue is starting to waive cancellation and change fees.

Charles Leocha, president of Travelers United, said consumers can purchase travelers insurance, but many policies don’t cover epidemics.

“The No. 1 thing you have to do is read the policy,” Leocha said.

Insurance companies do offer cancel-for-any-reason plans, but, Leocha said, they’re often expensive.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy continues reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

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