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  • DavidGrodentz

    K1ngston, yes HK has been quieter, both during the protests (weekends were noticeably quieter), and during various periods during the outbreak, especially when most of the government employees were working from home and a lot of private companies followed suit.

    A lot of that is due to the absence of tourists, especially from China. Around 60 million tourists visit HK every year. But quieter is relative, as Ian’s figures show, HK is never really quiet.

    I travelled back from A holiday in Malaysia on the last day of CNY, at the end of Jan, when Covid 19 was just a relatively minor inconvenience. Everyone on the flight was wearing masks, except during the food service. The Malaysian Airlines crew were also doing the same

    I know that wearing a mask will not necessarily protect me, but I do believe that someone else wearing a mask will help to protect me, obviously combined with social distancing and other measures. If everyone wears a mask, surely that helps (in percentage terms). Even some medical experts recommend wearing masks if you are sick.

    One thought though. If someone takes the time to source and wear a mask, are they also more likely to use hand sanitizer and wash their hands more frequently? Taking it to a much baser level, we have all left a gent’s toilet directly behind someone who has gone direct from the stalls / urinals to the exit. That seems to be less common now

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    Plus cargo has a couple of huge competition – ship and railways – both in long haul and short haul – that are available at a fraction of a price.

    Most of the new cargo is in taking medical supplies and equipment between Asia, Europe and N America.

    By ship ? How long ? By rail (considering the number of countries a China-Europe freight train would transit some of whom have closed their borders) is currently impractical.

    Swiss, for example, is operating *three* daily cargo flights between Shanghai and Zurich. Swiss is also operating *twice daily* between Beijing and Zurich.

    More scheduled passenger carriers, other than the ones listed below, are in the process of turning to cargo.

    Resourceful airlines switch to cargo


    The Dutch Government are also to offer Euros 2-4 Billion in Emergency funding.
    This is on top of the amount from The French Government.
    Both countries own about 14% of each of their Airline, as other Airlines such as Delta, China Eastern, employees, small and Corporate Shareholders.

    As you can see from here, the ownership of Schiphol Airport is also majority Dutch Government, City of Amsterdam etc.
    It employs 70,000 people, 40$ of traffic dependent on KLM. It is responsible for most of the tourism and income to the whole commerce of Amsterdam, one of the most popular cities in Europe.
    There have been more Daily UK flights to Amsterdam from the many airports and Airlines, than any other city in Europe. I believe it was around 430 weekly.then add on other European connections…..

    Ownership of Schiphol Airport
    State of the Netherlands (69.77%) Government of Amsterdam (20.03%) Groupe ADP (8.0%) Government of Rotterdam (2.2%)

    As Schiphol is always voted “Best European Airport”, the cleanliness, and reliability, forward planning, modernisation, and how it is kept, i see it as a far better model than LHR for eg.

    KLM i have found as an excellent Airline in Europe, the Employees regard themselves as a family, and through many hard times have worked in many roles voluntarily, to support through difficult times. Their Customer service has always been one of the best, far outweighing BA. They approach you with compensation and putting matters right, if anything goes wrong, you do not have to ask. I have several friends in Senior Management of KLM, and a Director at Schiphol. I heard constant dedication over many years.
    KLM made 4x the profit of AF for the group, and have cut staff down to the bone.

    Personally, i do not like the link with Air France, they each a totally different philosophy, that in no way matches.
    AF give a completely different impression when you fly with them with their attitude, overstaffed, and grim dysfunctional CDG Base.
    I find the KLM Model a great expression of Dutch Culture and attitude and a credit to The Dutch Community.

    But such is the investment from The Dutch Overall in Schiphol, and in KLM, i can understand, and it is to their credit that they wish to support both Businesses, as it provides a huge benefit to a small country.
    If a Company chooses to become independent of The State as BA, then clearly they are less well placed for State support, as we today see with British Airways. Therefore that commercial / Privatised model, seems to fail in today’s climate, for Taxpayer support.

    The same with Virgin Australia now in administration, and ??? with Virgin Atlantic.
    Other good well placed International Airlines with State investments, will and are being supported around The World.

    Today look at KLM and Air France, Schiphol being supported.
    Compare that to the Privatised LHR and British Airways, and you see which is the better Model, and the stake people feel they have in their National Aviation.

    However the International Airlines re-emerge from this Worldwide, i feel incredibly sad for the many who will lose their occupations, and have been affected by something outside of all commercial control, no matter which model they have. Despite their hard work, dedication, these are the people who make our travel enjoyable, enabled.
    All travel and Tourism, and all the linked chains of workers, there will be hundreds of Thousands Worldwide.

    KLM have offered credits for their regular customers for flights, and refunds where viable, as i have seen in their refunds or credit policy… and received.

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    I wonder how many airlines might consider following in the ” State of Missouri” s footsteps ….

    Especially when you consider that the case for criminal negligence could be proven by simply watching today’s CNN live broadcast from Wuhan
    As they get back to normal life .they inadvertently filmed crates of live creatures crammed into a basket for people to purchase !

    And before any replies with the futility of the lawsuit, i’m aware that China can’t be sued due to UN Sovereignty rules

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    Tom, I tend to agree with you, and the Economist, concerning cruises. My wife and I started a few years ago and have enjoyed it very much. However, we had a Med cruise booked for June, and have cancelled before making final payment. MSC, like many, have a flexible change, or future cruise credit, programme, but all seem to require full payment before you have a chance for change or credit. I have not checked all cruise compmanies but I have not found 1 that will offer a refund in the event of cancellation. I am not sure how financially strong the various cruise lines are, but I would consider a cruise line credit a greater risk than an airline credit. I suspect that few, if any, flag carrying airlines will be allowed to fail, but I cannot see many Governments stepping in to bail out a cruise line.

    Ontherunhome, much of my travel is to exhibitions, mainly in Europe, as I find them a good way to meet many customers in one place. It will be interesting to see how strongly the exhibition industry bounces back. One of the exhibitions that I always attend, in Frankfurt in March, has been rescheduled to end September just 4 weeks before the major US competing event in Las Vegas, and 3 weeks after a smaller competing event in London. I shall probably still attend, but will wait to see exhibitor lists before booking flights or hotels, whereas I normally book flights and hotels as soon as I return from the current event.

    Swissdiver, I understand your comments about past crises, but the reality is that video conferincing, and telecommunications generally, have improved dramatically since 9/11 or even the financial melt down. Previously you only had Skype, and fuzzy pictures that broke up. I agree that difficult board meetings, or indeed any meetings, are better face to face, but we still may see changes.

    I think that holidays will bounce back quickly, especially short haul. Based on my own experience there are huge Expat communities around Europe that fly between homes on a very regular basis, and there is a huge pent up demand. I think that this kind of travel will resume quickly.

    Most of my long haul travel has been to China, usually visiting with a European customer to show them manufacturing facilities. I think that the days of European companies making these kind of audits / visits will take a long time to resume.


    Discussing this subject last night over a virtual drink with friends, that’s after spending the afternoon at a virtual funeral in north London and early evening at a virtual ‘shiva’….. (visiting the mourners to provide comfort).

    My thoughts are the world will change after this virus with travel coming back very slowly. I think the ‘virtual’ world will expand to make the need for certain types of travel less needy.

    Firstly, you have the aeroplanes, the majority of which are in lock down and then you have the travelling public, the majority who are likely to remain in ‘social distancing mode’.

    I think passengers are going to demand more space in the back, so the creation of a new term ‘passenger distancing’ could evolve. Seeing the BA flights yesterday with pax crammed together, with so many spare seats/rows was wrong. The standard ‘Ryan excuse ‘free rows changes the weight and balance’, may be relevant for take off and landing, but not for the cruise and especially not by 1 row.

    Secondly, pricing, how are the airlines going to price tickets when flights restart. Yes passengers will need to be enticed back, but the airlines will try and recoup losses by perhaps increasing fares.

    Thirdly, I agree with Woodpecker about Asia opening up sooner, but the USA market is going to be interesting. I especially see London to New York (apparently one of the most profitable routes on all networks) having a serious ongoing problem because from the reports I see (mainly sky news) they are going to be hit HARD as will the rest of the states. All very well Mr T banning all Brits, but quite frankly why would anyone want to risk flying to the states. Last to be hit, last to recover.

    Fourthly, after 9/11, enhanced security was implemented (quite rightly) which caused massive q’s and it took the airports a good 5 – 6 years to speed this up. Indeed Heathrow are only planning to remove some of the enhanced security in 2022 (currently) when we will be able to pass through security without the need to dispose of liquids and remove computers (11 years after 9/11).

    A different sort of Q will be created, cross border health checks which I imagine could be in place for a long long time. Currently China is building walls and introducing strict rules for anyone entering and I see this spreading across all airports (of course except for the UK, who still have no interest in checking anyone). Long Q’s will form, especially on arrival at certain airports for health screening, until machines can be created to undertake the work.

    These are my thoughts & unlike most, I am hoping things will not BOUNCE back by around summer time, but more a case of a controlled, managed and safe service will return by the end of 2020. The singular biggest issue with this Virus (IMHO) is a minority of people, around the globe, have not understood, how serious this virus could become & the effects of this minority, could have serious implications for the majority who do understand.

    Stay safe everyone.

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    I work in leisure travel to Latin America and don’t expect any new bookings for travel before 1st September. Our specific problem is that, unlike China for example, Latin America is behind the curve, so, even if the health situation improves in Europe, will clients (especially elder clients) wish to travel there? And will the UK and European governments look to prevent the re-importation of the virus by advising against all but essential travel or simply banning it?

    The secondary issue, again purely from my own business point of view, is how viable will leisure travel be this year? Ok, some people haven’t lost out financially but a good proportion have. Long haul holidays might not be their number one priority.

    What too of the airlines? Will all the airlines that I rely on still be operating and, if they are, with the same frequency and prices? If travel to Latin America etc is subdued, will the likes of BA, Virgin, Air France, KLM etc concentrate on ‘safer’ routes?

    Finally, will all the companies, hotels etc that we work with still be in business?


    Obviously BA and other carriers are now losing a lot of money over fears about covid-19. My post, written a month ago, was about my personal situation at that point in time, where BA wanted to earn £630 if I cancelled my tickets, due to my concern about covid-19 in China. They (and my insurers) took the view that my cancellation would be voluntary and therefor would not qualify for compensation. The airline subsequently chose to cancel my flights and so I got a full refund. But in the month in between the fare to my favoured replacement destination rose by almost £1000 each, so both BA and I have lost money. BA, though, will have insurance to cover route suspension.

    I would like to praise BA for getting my refund back onto my Amex within 48 hours.

    I remain of the opinion that BA could have appeared more caring by refunding me a month ago. A lot of the drop in airlines’ revenue at the moment is not just in relation to China services, there’s a broader issue around lack of confidence that a flight will take place through the airline cancelling it, the airport refusing certain arrivals, or the sudden enforcement of quarantine when you get there/home. I think more people would make advance bookings (say for the summer holidays) if the airlines gave more reassurances around refunding tickets if they cancelled flights, or if they were otherwise prevented from flying due to covid-19.

    I know there will be those of you who say that ‘business’ is not about being ‘caring’, and others who would challenge that vigorously. But I’m dismayed that a few of you have chosen to criticise me so personally on this thread.


    JH 1234, thanks for that update re KUL. Also to you all for taking the time to reflect whats is happening where you are or travel through.

    I stopped over en route to Australia, at The Mandarin Oriental hotel, 31st Jan for 3 nights.
    They were excellent, and door access, into the main lobby with staff just inside, and alcogel spread across as a barrier you walked through in and out, and asked to use.
    The Head Concierge said that there were very few bookings, and it was just Chinese New Year. Many areas were eerie in the few people that were around.
    However, this was where i saw spontaneous people on the street, a district away from KLCC, selling various face masks.

    The BBC World program that i have just watched, had the statistics from IATA, that Airlines have cancelled flights to-from and within China, to over 238,000!
    If you consider Cathay in HKG, where over 40% of flights have now been cancelled they had scheduled, then take into account the hot spots for the virus emerging, the impact on Airlines and all their supply chains employees, this is huge.
    This may well happen to Italian Airlines from the areas affected, Korean based Airlines, UAE, Middle East carriers are also reducing, as well as Australian and European Airlines serving these areas.

    Now even large International Companies supplying alcoholic and soft drinks, are warning of huge downturns in business.
    People are not gathering in major World cities, eating and drinking out as normal, of course the Tourism element also here around Asia
    These are prime examples about how we need to start regarding this serious situation, well beyond the travel and tourism businesses, and impact on small businesses.

    Alcogels are also now getting difficult to find i hear in Europe at the moment, which as many mention are very effective for hygiene, unlike the lack of masks, that are driven more by hysteria, than clinical effectiveness.
    Staff in Australia Hospitals are wearing full masks, including a plastic visor covering the eyes, ears, and gloves as well as disposable protective aprons on respiratory Units. Surgical Hibiscrub or iodine are used before and after seeing each patient, then alcogels.
    WHO have stated that Masks are Not effective, only for patients to contain who are symptomatic, that must be changed often.


    Indeed the contributions of many on the BT forum, show their benefit as we can contribute from many parts of the World we experience.
    This is very useful for subjects such as this as it is a fast moving developing situation.

    Having been in Australia for some weeks, and travelling via Asia, i can certainly reflect the news, Governments actions and what i see travelling, and in the cities, hotels, and airports. Coverage is probably more in depth than in Europe when in the region here.

    It has been clear in Australia that strict restrictions, especially from China, have had a managing effect. Quarantine when Australians have been repatriated on the Qantas 747, has been either on Christmas Island, or a former Mining camp residence in Darwin.
    However, their is also discussion of restrictions now from S Korea, and Italy’s outbreak.
    The impact has been clear around the cities, with much less tourism being taken up, 16% of all visitors being Chinese, who spend more than others.
    Over 100,000 students for Universities in Australia, were unable to gain entry to the country with a complete ban on travel from China, unless you showing you have been out of there for 14 days prior to entry.
    The State and Federal Governments, are expecting budget surpluses to be wiped out.

    This means hotels, and restaurants, leisure activities, and many small businesses are feeling the impact, not great after the Bush fires, and subsequent floods.
    Hotels and Tourism as well as Airlines are clearly showing less demand, and several Airlines are cutting flights down to Australia.
    These add to Cathay reducing over 35% of overall flights Company wide, and Virgin Australia ceasing flights to Hong Kong, (also taking into account the civil unrest recently).
    Many conferences and groups around The World are being cancelled, as are Business & Leisure trips.
    In Asia, even travelling out end of January, Kuala Lumpur was very quiet, and remains so, inter Asian travel is lessening considerably.
    Today it is emerging on the stock markets Worldwide, with considerable % values lost.
    These impacts are now being measured in Economics of whole countries, with still no stable information on this health Emergency

    The WHO are assuming this may well turn into a Pandemic, and that we should be aware of this.
    On return to the UK, i will certainly be suspending travels for the coming months, especially long haul, as all aspects of this remain unpredictable and uncertain, and currently not reached a peak. We have yet to see a Management of this Worldwide.

    No Borders in the EU, is a distinct disadvantage, when countries are connected, where-as Islands such as Australia and the UK, may well have advantages, with limited abilities of transiting into a country. Controls can be more easily imposed.

    Most areas mentioned have run out of “Face Masks” that provide little if any protection. these are being sold on the streets, for excessive amounts in Asia i understand in many countries, but running out.
    Cabin crews are also wearing these masks on flights to and from Australia and within Asia, which is quite off putting. It is difficult to hear or see muffled sounds or people speaking to you on board.
    However, i have understanding that being exposed in your work place on aircraft, if it makes them feel some caution, then they must have the right to do so.

    More than ever, i think the use of alco-gel is important when we are travelling, as is the thorough washing of hands.
    Studies have shown we can be touching our faces up to 200+ times per hour!
    Think of the thousands of people going through Security and your contact with the boxes, as with door handles and many places around an airport?
    Avoidance of the hubs of this virus now appearing in Seoul, parts of Italy, Tenerife are emerging, but this will also impact Airlines of those countries.
    Bare in mind, if we do travel to these centres, Other Countries may not allow us back through or in, without quarantine, as in Australia.

    This remains unpredictable, fast moving, and unlike previous similar health issues, has not yet reached its peak, no set knowledge of its management, and increases only in sight at this time.
    It already is, but certainly will have a major impact Worldwide on all aspects of travel, and it is up to us as individuals to take cautious decisions on where we go in these uncertain times. Daily changes make this a very serious matter to take into account for all of us, and extra precautions of hygiene as much as possible.

    Are other BT Forum members reviewing their travel going forwards or at this time?

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    Thanks to all for their contributions, which demonstrates the benefits of The BT Forum. Information is useful from people around The World.

    In Australia, there has been a sharp Government response, which has protected this large continent, but the impact is clearly now obvious in dramatic downturns in Tourism, Local Business, The Airlines reductions in services.
    The Federal and State Governments are already preparing for the effect on GDP, Nationally there was to be a surplus, which is now unsure.
    Complete Restrictions to those travelling from China, their own citizens were repatriated quickly but with a 2 week isolation either on Christmas Island, or Darwin, where a former Mining camp accommodation has been re-opened.
    Considerations of adding Seoul and Italy were being made in recent days.
    Over 100,000 students from China, have not been able to travel into the Country to start their University Courses. The ban is being extended week by week by a Special Government Group.
    Australia being a vast Island, in itself offers some protecting as also isolated, so you would have to arrive by Air or Sea.

    Many Airlines are cutting back flights due to lack of demand into Australia, even Singapore Airlines, and Virgin Australia & Air NZ to Hong Kong also.
    The areas of the major cities have a distinct absence of tourists, and many hotels are running low on capacity.
    Cabin crew are wearing face masks, which seems rather strange on a flight, and impairs communication being unable to see people talking and even then a muffled sound.
    As outlined before, these masks are generally ineffective for more than some minutes, and people have to lower them to eat, drink speak, some wearing them uncomfortably with their nose out! However, we must consider crews are very exposed in their work situations, and even if pretty ineffective, wish to take some precautions.

    As much concern would be your hair, face ears, hands, so unless we all wear Medicalised hoods and suits as Health Care Professionals are. What of our clothes?
    Masks have sold out, and in Asia peoples were selling them on the streets for up to equivalent of $100 each, i heard from friends and colleagues around different cities.

    In The Far East, certainly KL and BKK see a reduction in hotel capacity, with many cancellations.
    Clearly a huge impact is being spread across Asia, which if you travel down towards the Pacific, you need to change or stopover also, so this is an impairment to travel down under.

    It is worrying that Italy has been hit so hard, the last i heard was that a trace of why had not been found. Within the EU, with border free travel, unless an island, this is going to be a problem. In that respect, the UK has some advantage, being an Island.

    Sadly, this issue will be one of the most prominent in recent years that is going to affect our Travels, especially World Class Airlines, such as Cathay with over 35% of flights cut and more being added. (Of course with HKG, there has been some time the Civil unrest also).
    Governments are already trying to compensate their economies and wind down their GDP forecasts and budgets.
    It is affecting not only travel, as pointed out above, but many local Businesses relating to tourism or visitors to countries, and will become even more far reaching.
    It has reached The Middle East now also, as well as SE / NE Asia more prominently.
    Meetings, conferences are being cancelled Worldwide, group travel appears dropped, and the Cruise ship Business, may well turn out to take a major hit also.
    It is worrying that Italy has become a European Centre

    I wonder if other BT Readers, will be reconsidering their travels ahead, as this situation remains unpredictable, growing, not yet reached a peak.
    No sure information on its treatments, containment, and not a hold yet on its Management, Worldwide, it is an ever changing situation.
    Clearly it will be affecting very broadly and every aspect of travel for some time, and Businesses internationally, small businesses within countries, with less people mobile Worldwide.

    I certainly will be suspending mine until the peak, and clearer Management is established, and be guided by the WHO, who are stating this may become a Pandemic.
    This is a very serious Worldwide Situation, and already is impacting travel in every aspect.


    Thank you to the contributors to this seriously developing issue.

    Travelling through Asia, many hotels are empty, tourism minimal, and travel Bans are spreading now to Middle East and some countries refusing flights from Italy.
    The centre of the outbreak in Europe is very worrying, especially as so many countries have no borders that they could close. free movement no borders also means uncontrolled in this context, unless you are an island.

    Air crews are wearing face masks on board, which we know are pretty ineffective as experts have indicated, but i respect it is their workplace, with a higher risk. Many places in Asia and Australia have run out of face masks. Unless it is a Hospital standard one, they are ineffective, but people are cashing in on selling them!!!

    Having been in Australia, they are managing this situation in e very sensible constructive way, even though some may feel it is harsh.
    Off chore Island quarantine has been established, but also a Darwin based former Mining Village has been re-opened.
    University students, over 100,000 Chinese, have not been able to attend the beginning of studies by entering Australia, TV news have stated. 1.4 Million tourists, or 16% of tourism is from China.

    Many flights have been suspended, and Tourism remains downwards, air travel demand poor. Being one Large Island, they have a natural border, and the only few ways in are by Air, or sea. It is probably one of the safest countries and parts of The World at this time, and able to manage better.

    Hotels are at very low capacity, few bookings, and many cancellations. Group travels are bing cancelled.

    Cruise ships are being carefully monitored, and it would be one of the most risky selections of travel forms to choose at this stage, with thousands on these large vessels in such a small space.
    I have great sympathy with those who have been caught up on them, around The World.

    A flight from Africa – Alitalia, has been turned around and people refused entry i hear!

    This matter is growing more serious, beginning to have all related Travel and Tourism related Business affected, and the GDP of countries immediately
    It has, and will cut back Airlines and their profits, perhaps some their survival as they operate now, and cut back their size.

    Until the Governments Worldwide grab hold of this, i shall certainly be cutting my travel back long haul.
    Meetings, conferences are cancelled, and even people told to “Work from Home”.
    This is on the edge of being declared a Pandemic according to the WHO.
    The situation grows more serious daily.

    We all need to keep aware of what is happening, and make careful decisions, until we see a drop of infections and Management capability of this Virus.
    It has not reached anywhere near its heights.

    What are your feelings on your plans to travel?

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    The HK$1.6 Billion package of fee reductions and wavers just announced by the HK Airport Authority will be welcomed by all three of the Cathay owned airlines without doubt but it is still a critical situation which I feel would perhaps have been terminal were Cathay a stand alone airline.
    As it is being part of robust Swire group and with strong investors in Air China (29%) and Qatar (10%)they will have the resources,resilience and resolve to survive no doubt.

    Hong Kong Airlines are an entirely different matter of course and very likely to fold any day unless significant new funding is injected immediately. The chances of this happening would seem to be very unlikely.


    In reply to: Hainan Airlines woes

    So that appears to end Hainan Airlines service to the UK and Ireland.

    In May 2019 we reported that flights were ending the following September.

    China’s Hainan Airlines to axe Dublin and Edinburgh?


    It seems we may have another victim of Coronavirus. Or looking closer, this flu is the straw that may break this camels very heavily debted back!

    Many outlets are reporting that Hainan Airlines, part of the debt laden HNA Conglomorate, may cease trading soon or be absorbed into one of the ‘big government three’ chinese airlines.

    It’s a pity on the one hand – I’d never flown them but apparently Hainan were unquestionably in a league of their own in terms of flight experience for mainland chinese airlines. But I guess this is what happens when you go on a multi billion pound splurge on new aircraft and then A virus like Corona hits.

    What may be more interesting to see is how this will impact Hong Kong Airlines and Virgin Australia. HNA has substantial holdings in both and both these airlines too are already struggling financially.

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