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

What’s the latest on the extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?

As of now, those $600-a-week payments will stop at the end of July. For many, unemployment payments have been a lifeline, but one that is about to end, if nothing changes. The debate over whether or not to extend these benefits continues among lawmakers.

With a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, are restaurants and bars shutting back down?

The latest jobs report shows that 4.8 million Americans went back to work in June. More than 30% of those job gains were from bars and restaurants. But those industries are in trouble again. For example, because of the steep rise in COVID-19 cases in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, increased restrictions on restaurant capacities and closed bars. It’s created a logistical nightmare.

Which businesses got Paycheck Protection Program loans?

The numbers are in — well, at least in part. The federal government has released the names of companies that received loans of $150,000 or more through the Paycheck Protection Program.

Some of the companies people are surprised got loans include Kanye West’s fashion line, Yeezy, TGI Fridays and P.F. Chang’s. The companies you might not recognize, particularly some smaller businesses, were able to hire back staff or partially reopen thanks to the loans.

You can find answers to more questions on unemployment benefits and COVID-19 here.

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