Holiday travel for select few as airlines return to skies

Travel

The European Union has issued guidelines which it hopes will mean that some kind of holiday tourism travel can restart in the next two months

Among its guidelines, announced by the European Union’s economic affairs commissioner Paolo Gentiloni, are that face masks are worn on planes, buses and trains, social distancing has to be respected at hotels, restaurants and beaches and that you should book slots to use the hotel pool.

“Our message is we will have a tourist season this summer, even if it’s with security measures and limitations,” said Gentiloni.

Tourism provided almost 10% of Europe’s economic output and 15% of jobs across the 27 member states before the coronavirus pandemic.

The EU is proposing a three-stage approach, starting with the current situation in which most non-essential travel across borders is banned. In he second phase, the EU wants border restrictions lifted between countries and regions at a similar stage of the coronavirus pandemic, and where the health situation is improving. The final phase is a return to normal.

The decision on reopening borders lies with the national governments, but the EU wants a coordinated response after a haphazard start to the virus crisis in which capitals closed borders with little or no consultation and the EU was heavily criticised for a lack of direction.

Austria and neighbours Germany have already agreed to remove travel restrictions. From Friday there will be random checks at border crossings and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that many internal EU border restrictions would be lifted by June 15.

“The aim is, if the infection process allows it – I want to stress that – that from June the 15th border controls in the Schengen area can be completely eliminated,” said Merkel. The Schengen area is an area of 26 European states, which annually sees 1.3 billion crossings of its borders in total.

Angela Merkel, Germany, Twitter

A “Baltic bubble” will operate from Friday, enabling travel by rail, sea and air across Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, but with a quarantine initially in place for travellers from other states.

The reopening on borders is in its infancy. If you fly into Spain and the UK – unless you live in France or the Irish Republic – you will have to spend 14 days in isolation. Canet d’en Berenguer, a Mediterranean town located just north of Valencia, will only allow 5,000 daily sunbathers on its local beach when it reopens, and Galicia’s Sanxenxo will allocate entry to its beach on a “first come, first served” basis. Both are roping off small sections on the sands to ensure beachgoers can maintain a safe distance from each other, a move that may indicate the future of beach visits, CNN reported.

Greece, which will reopen its hotels in Athens on June 1, with holiday hotels a month later. Currently, all non-EU citizens are banned from entering Greece until May 18.

Ryanair, probably the largest European budget airline by scheduled passengers flown, has announced a plan to restore 40% of its flight schedule from July 1, subject to government restrictions on flights within the EU being lifted and “effective public health measures” being put in place at airports. It would involve nearly 1,000 flights per day being operated and 90% of its pre-Covid-19 route network being restored.

Emirates has announced it will resume scheduled flight services from 21 May to nine destinations: London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Paris, Milan, Madrid, Chicago, Toronto, Sydney, Melbourne. Travellers will only be accepted on these flights if they comply with the eligibility and entry criteria requirements of their destination countries. This includes an approval from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) for UAE residents who wish to return to Dubai.

At Dubai International airport, customers and employees will have their temperatures checked via thermal scanners. Protective barriers have been installed at check-in counters to provide additional safety during interaction. Gloves and masks are mandatory for all customers and employees at the airport. In addition, Emirates’ cabin crew, boarding agents and ground staff who interact directly with travellers will don personal protective equipment (PPE) including a protective disposable gown and safety visor. Social distancing protocols will also be implemented. Dubai international airport will fearture physical indicators being placed on the ground and at waiting areas in the airport to ensure travellers maintain a safe distance.

For health and safety reasons and to minimise interaction on-board, Emirates will offer a modified in-flight service that focuses on reducing contact and infection risk. Magazines and print reading material will not be available during this time. Cabin baggage has to be checked-in, and customers can only bring essential items such as a laptop, handbag, briefcase or baby items on board.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that it didn’t expect 2019 flight levels to be exceeded until 2023.

As international markets open and economies recover, there will be further growth in air travel from the 2020 low point. But even by 2025 we would expect global RPKs to be 10% lower than the previous forecast.

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