British citizens stranded in India by the coronavirus lockdown must wait several more days for the first repatriation flights to the UK – which will initially serve only three locations across a vast country.
Scheduled flights to, from and within India have been suspended until 14 April, and tight restrictions are in place for domestic travel.
The British high commission in Delhi has announced “a first round of charter flights” from India, beginning on Sunday.
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Seven India UK repatriation flights will commence on Wednesday 8 April from Goa to London Stansted. There will be additional departures from India’s leading resort location on Friday and Sunday. The one-way fare is £681.
Further flights will take-off from each of Delhi and Mumbai to London Heathrow on Thursday and Saturday. The fare is £581 from Delhi, £600 from Mumbai.
The British high commissioner, Jan Thompson, said in video statement: “Due to the current travel restrictions in India, it is only possible to book these flights if you are already in the state of departure.
“But please do not worry if you are not. Further information will follow on flights running from other locations in India.”
The repatriation flights are being organised as part of a £75m Foreign Office airlift announced by Dominic Raab. They are open only to British nationals, their spouses or partners and their children.
Passengers must register online through a commercial events company, CTM, but are warned: “Registration does not guarantee a place on a flight. “Those who are not allocated a place on a flight will be put on a waitlist for the next available set of flights.”
Travellers hoping to book are warned: “Anyone found not eligible to fly will be denied boarding and we reserve the right to deduct an administration fee before offering any refund.”
Prospective passengers must declare whether they are displaying any of the symptoms of coronavirus, including fever, dry cough or shortness of breath, and will not be allowed to travel if they are.
Passengers allowed to travel will probably be picked up from their current location, though some may be asked to meet at a muster point.
There are also concerns about whether there will be any “social distancing” on board the aircraft. Around 2,000 passengers could be brought back on the seven flights, but this number would be sharply reduced if travellers are allocated seats with empty spaces between them.
The high commission said in a statement: “We are looking to arrange flights from other locations in India, where we know there are large numbers of British nationals.
“We will run flights based on need and circumstances.”
Several other countries have already operated repatriation flights from India to rescue their citizens, with Air France running multiple departures from Delhi to Paris. Some countries are believed have collected their citizens from a wider area in coaches.
So far the main focus for UK repatriation flights has been on Peru. British Airways has flown four Boeing 777s from Lima to London.
Other flights are being operated on behalf of the Foreign Office from Bolivia, Ecuador and the Philippines.
What a month it has been. Amid all the doom and gloom of the coronavirus pandemic, there are some positive stories that deserve to be heard, many of which come from within one of the industries most severely hit: travel. Sadly, these are often overlooked, so here I share with you just a small handful of some of the many ways that the travel industry is offering its support despite all the turmoil it currently finds itself in.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but really just a snapshot of some of the many things going on; if you have other similar ‘good news’ stories to share that exemplify how the travel industry is doing its bit to help, please feel free to share them in the comments below.
VistaJet is helping to ensure that those with critical travel requirements during this time of uncertainty are able to keep moving. Understanding the global community’s needs as the world works to respond to the evolving situation on COVID-19, VistaJet continues to identify new ways to be of help through its global network and infrastructure. The company is working directly with governments and consulates around the world, helping them to repatriate citizens by providing complimentary empty leg flights.
EasyJet has written to 9,000 UK-based staff, of whom 4,000 are trained in CPR, to invite them to volunteer for further training before helping out at the critical care field hospitals in London, Birmingham and Manchester. And Virgin Atlantic is contacting 4,000 of its employees with relevant skills that can be put to good use at the sites. Volunteers may perform support roles, such as changing beds under the guidance of trained nurses, and will continue to be paid by the airlines.
JetBlue has been using its empty planes to shuttle incoming medical volunteers to New York State free of charge.
Hotels and resorts
To care for communities impacted by the current global health crisis, Hyatt has made a donation of RMB 2 million to the China Women’s Development Foundation, a national public foundation that has been actively working to support the emergency relief works, including the donation of medical equipment and care programs for frontline medical members and their families during this crisis. The China Women’s Development Foundation has been operating two emergency relief programs to help the COVID-19 situation in Hubei province, particularly in Wuhan, the initial epicenter of the COVID-19 virus. The money will primarily go towards the purchasing of critical medical equipment such as respiration machines for local hospitals. Any remaining funds will be used for their “Jia Yu Anti-virus White Angel Project”, which provides protection gear, daily life essentials as well as family care and support to frontline medical workers.
Virgin Limited Edition are more than aware of some of the very vulnerable communities in which their properties operate. That’s why they are committed to retaining all of their local on-site nurses and medical centres to support their staff and the local communities. In South Africa, their Pride ‘n Purpose charity has already formed a COVID Support Volunteer Group that is now helping to educate some of the poorest and most at risk communities, as well as providing essential medical and food supplies. Together with Virgin Unite, they are now developing further plans to ensure they continue to support all of those communities – across all of their properties, during this ongoing crisis.
Andrew Ashcroft, is taking the lead on humanitarian work to support Belize by donating and raising over $60,000 (BZE) to transform a school into hospital on Ambergris Caye. Andrew has also kept his staff employed at Banyan Bay Suites, Grand Colony Villas and Alaia Belize (first Marriott in Belize) to ensure they’re supported financially and able to receive medical benefits. Additionally, his father, Lord Ashcroft has donated $10 million (BZE) to help Belize overcome COVID-19.
The Four Seasons Hotel New York, which is located on East 57th Street but is temporarily closed, is housing doctors, nurses and other medical workers free of charge. It is situated near a number of hospitals, including Mount Sinai, New York Presbyterian and Bellevue. Similar offers have since been extended by The Plaza Hotel on Central Park South, the St. Regis New York, Yotel and boutique hotels such as Midtown’s Room Mate Grace and the Wythe on the Brooklyn waterfront.
STAY in Hawley Wharf, Camden is offering bedrooms within its apartments for those working tirelessly to protect the country in nearby London hospitals. This offering will last for an initial one-month with a view to extend both the time frame and the number of beds if the cause requires it.
Over in China, LUX* Resorts & Hotels are ensuring their local communities are well looked after during these uncertain times. Both of the group’s properties in China, LUX* Tea Horse Road Lijang and LUX* Tea Horse Road Benzilan, are running regular food deliveries to those who are most vulnerable and unable to leave their homes during the ongoing period of self-isolation.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, ILUNION Hotels has placed its hotel chain at the disposal of the Community of Madrid’s political and health authorities to take in patients across their 3 Madrid properties with mild cases of coronavirus, who need to isolate themselves during the coming weeks and cannot do so in their own homes.
The Deer Path Inn is launching an “Inn Good Times” online auction, offering exclusive experiences (including private mixology lessons with the inn’s chief spirits officer, a dinner for two in the private wine cellar, and more) to the highest bidders. All money raised will go to local Lake Forest, IL businesses impacted hardest by the government’s COVID-19 shutdown.
The Landal Gwel an Mor resort in Portreath, Cornwall are supporting the fight against coronavirus by providing free accommodation to doctors and nurses working at the Royal Cornwall Hospital. With the resort a short drive away from the county’s main hospital, the holiday centre is working with the NHS to offer a comfortable and convenient place to stay for local health workers, allowing them to continue with their vital roles. Doctors and nurses have moved in, with the majority staying at the resort as they have vulnerable family members, so need to be away from their homes to continue their work plus those who have returned to the area to assist with the ‘NHS needs you’ recruitment push.
Little Emperors, the private members luxury hotel club is donating 50% of all new member sign-ups and referrals and 10% of all renewal fees in March, April and May to Heroes+. Their mission is to support the welfare and wellbeing of NHS staff as they fight COVID-10. Their aims are to support the physical, mental, and day to day wellbeing of NHS staff across the nation. Physically to support the protection of the staff on the frontline. Mentally they aim to provide counselling and psychological services. Day to day they want to set up a hassle -free small grants service to support childcare, transport, to provide perks for hospital facilities and more.
Quinta do Lago resort in the Algarve is doing a couple of community/charity focused initiatives to support local communities throughout this time, such as donating all produce that could not be used in the now-closed restaurants to local welfare charities in Quarteira and Almancil.
The Ranch at Rock Creek, a glamping retreat in rural Philipsburg, Montana (www.theranchatrockcreek.com) is providing food and assistance for the elderly located in extremely remote areas of the surrounding Granite County. This is a true frontier area with 2 people per square mile and 65% of its population is over the age of 60, so this assistance has been vital.
Silversands Grenada, a luxury resort on the Caribbean island of Grenada, is using its final hours before the island goes on lockdown to deliver care packages, food and water to hospital workers and police officers stationed at road check stations. The property also regularly works with a network of single mother farmers through a program called GRENROP to purchase the majority of produce for its restaurants, providing financial support and stability for the community year-round.
Acre Resort in Los Cabos, which has a working farm that normally provides 70% of the ingredients for the restaurant’s farm-to-table menu, is distributing the daily haul from the farm to the local community instead as the restaurant and hotel are now temporarily closed. Each day the hotel’s owners and small remaining farm staff will share the harvest with those in need.
The Beverly Hills Hotel is protecting its employees’ jobs and salaries regardless of the duration of the pandemic and donating its famous McCarthy salads to medical workers in Los Angeles. The hotel is also delivering 400 meals to the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
The Crescent Hotel Beverly Hills in partnership with Chef 2 Door (C2D) is giving away 200 free chef-created boxed meals for curb-side pickup in Beverly Hills.
JW Marriott Grand Rapids is supporting local organization Kids’ Food Basket by provide evening meals and other nutritional services to children in need and donating 20 percent of every bill from curbside pick-up orders from the hotel’s French bistro, Margaux.
Family owned and operated, Bluefields Bay Villas is a collection of six all-inclusive luxury villas located on Jamaica’s south coast, where the island’s countryside meets the sea. While the resort’s doors are closed during this time, Washington D.C. native Braxton Moncure and his family have forgoed their salaries, committed to covering health insurance for all employees, providing a weekly $2,000 stipend for any team members who are 55 years and older and offering complimentary lunch for those in need seven days a week.
Kimpton Fitzroy London, in the heart of Bloomsbury, is serving free breakfast and lunch to healthcare and emergency workers, service industry employees, and local residents.
Michelin-starred restaurant Alchemilla in Nottingham, UK, is launching a home delivery service for self-isolating customers and offering free meals to frontline NHS staff.
Maximilian Strohe and Ilona Scholl, owners of the Michelin-starred Tulus Lotrek, decided they would do something to help. For the last few weeks, they have been providing gourmet meals to hospitals and other healthcare institutions in Berlin – free of charge.
AOK Kitchen, Kelly Landesberg’s restaurant, is helping with the family’s Corona Care Challenge initiative and producing thousands of individual portions of favourite homemade meals like lasagne, shepherd’s pie and stews. Head Chef Kostas Rampias has enlisted a team of chefs to help him prepare the meals which are then delivered to NHS hospital loading bays around London. So far, they have reached 15 hospitals and are seeing a demand for several more as hospital workers are messaging the team directly. They hope to continue this incredible momentum for as long as they can, but they need continued funds to meet the demand. They have also recently asked for any companies that can, to donate beauty products such as lip balm, hand cream and face cream for the NHS workers that are struggling with wearing masks all day every day.
Six Senses has launched a new initiative called At Home with Six Senses which offers new free online wellness programming for sheltering in place. Offerings include different guided meditations and healthy recipe/cooking demonstrations on the brand’s Facebook page.
Ecuador tour operator and DMC, Metropolitan Touring, has been working hand-in-hand with the Ecuadorian Government Council to help them acquire testing and health equipment to further combat the spread and impact of COVID-19 in the Galapagos Islands. The group’s chairman, Roque Sevilla, has committed to contributing US$ 200,000 in funds and together with other boat operators in the archipelago, Metropolitan Touring have been working on a plan to create a virtual call centre for the Galapagos manned by the medical officers whom usually attend guests aboard their fleet of 3 expedition vessels. The call center is now live and aims to support the health authorities on the islands by answering inhabitants’ calls and web chats about their suspected symptoms. An integral part of the tourism sector in the Galapagos Islands for over 50 years, the company is eager to do their utmost to support the Galapagos Government Council at this difficult time. As part of the State of Emergency declared by the Ecuadorian government, and to safeguard the population of the islands and minimize the risk of the infection, the government has limited access to the islands by plane to those carrying cargo and emergency staff only.
Ultra-luxe Africa travel specialist ROAR AFRICA is focused on bringing an end to illegal wildlife trade, which is the root cause of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their efforts differ from the many physical/in-kind gestures that many luxury hospitality brands have initiated but are equally impactful and significant. For example, ROAR AFRICA has an Emirates Private Jet Safari taking place in September of this year, priced at $125,000 per person for up to 10 people. The trip has been planned since last November, and while there was a charitable component built into it to make it carbon positive and benefit organizations on the ground in Africa, 100% of the proceeds of the trip will be donated to benefit the Great Plains Conservancy.
Original Travel launched a campaign called At Your Service. The idea is to show their thanks to the workforce of the NHS by gathering together a group of like-minded Great British Brands to offer goods and services from their fields of expertise that can be won by members of the NHS team through a free to enter raffle which will open on 7th April (World Health Day).
ExCeL London – the venue for the World Travel Market each year and one of the largest covered spaces in London – has been transformed into a 4,000 bed coronavirus hospital and re-branded as NHS Nightingale. With more than 80 wards each containing 42 beds, NHS Nightingale will become one of the biggest hospitals in the world and will play a major part in fighting the coronavirus in the UK.
In a further effort to help and support the community, LABS is offering its largest event space, Camden House, plus a number of private offices across its buildings, for the emergency services and critical call centres to use as they require. The 13,000 sq ft of space at Camden House will become a ‘common room’ for those on the frontline with complimentary tea and coffee provided day and night.
Miami Beach Convention Center is donating excess, unopened food from cancelled meetings and galas to local charities via Food Rescue US, a platform that matches last-minute food donations with volunteers who can pick up and deliver it to a local charity or source in need.
In Lexington, KY, VisitLEX and Keeneland Racecourse (the famed race track where Derby qualifying races usually take place) have teamed up with non-profit community kitchen FoodChain to launch NOURISH LEX – an initiative supporting the local hospitality industry by hiring displaced restaurant workers to cook fresh, healthy food for locals and their families. Keeneland has already donated 1,500 pounds of dry goods (which had been previously ordered for their spring race meet) to FoodChain. The model is such that it can be lifted and rolled out at other restaurants in the future.
An expert has urged the governing administration to handle Package Travel Regulation (PTRs) as “holistically as feasible” to help save the vacation sector through the coronavirus disaster.
In Gain Travel Partnership’s everyday online video update on 3 April, Joanna Kolatsis, director at Themis Advisory, explained PTRs as the “biggest difficulty impacting members” through the pandemic.
The PTR policies, which stipulate operators should issue refunds in 14 times if a vacation is cancelled, have been relaxed by the European Commission on 19 March but have nevertheless not been made British isles legislation.
With nations around the environment in lockdown and bookings slowed to a trickle, airways, operators and brokers have been struggling to fulfil all the refund requests and quite a few have been presenting credit score notes in its place.
Kolatsis also touched on card chargebacks, which is also impacting the sector: “It is genuinely important that we consider to tie this up as holistically as doable to stem the movement of quick income out of the door whilst we are hoping to figure out what the long term holds for the field.”
She additional: “We all agree it will not profit the consumer at all if none of these enterprises survive.”
Benefit is releasing a online video update for its members every day.
Sandals Resorts has reassured its trade partners that every person is combating together by the coronavirus disaster.
Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, chairman and founder of Sandals Resorts Intercontinental, is addressing vacation brokers as a result of a video clip entitled We Are In This Alongside one another.
A voiceover on the clip states: “Sometimes what keeps us apart actually delivers us collectively.
“Although these times are tricky for all people, Sandals and Shorelines want you, our travel partners, to know you have normally been the backbone of our field.”
Stewart provides: “Every travel agent knows you are the spine of Sandals Resorts. I do not want you to get worried due to the fact each and every minor thing is likely to be just fantastic.
“Love is all you require.”
The operator has also released a new social media campaign, Sandals State of Mind, which aims to bring all areas of a luxury Sandals holiday to men and women at property as a result of video clips with guidelines to making a Sandals-type bubble bathtub entire with towel art or making use of Caribbean-impressed recipes to make a 5-star gourmand evening meal.
It has also donated $5 million Jamaican pounds to hospitals in the place for ventilators all through the pandemic and made available 52 rooms at Sandals Inn for recovering Covi-19 patients.
It states the United kingdom authorities could relieve “unbearable force” on the sector by letting tourism firms to situation credit score notes.
When PTRs had been drafted they stipulated shoppers are entitled to a money refund if a vacation is identified as off.
Analysis done by the WTTC implies just one million vacation employment are at chance in the United kingdom during the Covid-19 disaster, together with 6.4 million in the EU and 75 million all-around the globe.
WTTC has known as PTRs “unfit for function” and asked for them to be suspended until finally at minimum August.
“This evaluate should really be executed immediately and enable raise the previously crushing fiscal pressure on vacation and tourism organisations and conserve the hundreds of thousands of livelihoods that count on them,” mentioned Gloria Guevara, WTTC’s president and main executive.
The about-50s expert built the admission in a investing update issued on Thursday (2 April) assessing the very likely more time-time period influence of the Covid-19 crisis, which the group believes will be followed by “a slow recovery”.
A lot more than 2,300 Saga team have transitioned to home doing the job, whilst “almost all customers” abroad have now been repatriated. Initiatives to rebook buyers are ongoing across Saga’s tour operator and cruise corporations.
Somewhere else, shipping of Saga’s 2nd new-establish ship Spirit of Journey, which had been due in August, could be delayed, the group has been encouraged by shipbuilder Meyer Werft.
Saga team main govt Euan Sutherland said that even though the firm’s vacation small business had been “significantly impacted”, the team had “acted quickly” to make certain the wellness and wellbeing of shoppers and personnel.
Nevertheless, the group on Thursday confirmed it experienced regarded situations for an prolonged suspension of cruise and touring operations, “including entire cancellation of all vacation departures above six months, adopted by a gradual recovery”.
“Saga is prepared to start sailing as before long as the vacation guidance alterations,” reported Sutherland. “Right now, we have outlined some prudent arranging scenarios to buyers – they are not a prediction as to when travel will resume.”
Steps to secure the group’s stability sheet and make improvements to liquidity incorporate drawing down £50 million from an remarkable credit history facility, which boosted income resources to £92 million as of the conclude of March.
Price-preserving steps introduced in February have freed up £15 million, while this is probably to be at the very least “partially offset” by £10 million in predicted redundancy prices this calendar year.
The group, which also has a rewarding coverage arm, also expects to recoup £23 million from the sale of its motorbike coverage company Bennetts.
“We have sizeable obtainable liquidity and can look at a array of even more mitigating actions across the team,” said Sutherland. “Saga is a solid manufacturer with faithful consumers, and exactly where we offer you definitely differentiated merchandise, underpinned by excellent company, our companies do effectively and have the opportunity to do greater.
“Organisationally, the group had develop into inefficient, shed its tight emphasis on buyers and had underinvested in digital, knowledge and brand name. We have began the function to make the improvements important for us to be equipped to supply the actually differentiated products and solutions and services our customers be expecting from us.
“Against the backdrop of Covid-19, the outlook is unsure, but we keep on being assured the Saga brand, and our insurance plan and vacation organizations, have a profitable potential in advance.”
Heathrow airport is to shut two of its 4 terminals in reaction to the collapse in air site visitors because of the coronavirus disaster.
The airport has unveiled that, inside months, only its two latest terminals — 2 and 5 — will keep on being open up.
Terminals 3 and 4 are to near, and dozens of airways that are presently centered there will will need to be moved.
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The logistics will be complicated, as workers and programs are merged. Terminal 3 incorporates major carriers which include Emirates, American Airlines and Virgin Atlantic — which has moved its Gatwick operations to Heathrow.
Terminal 4 is the home of Skyteam, including Air France and KLM, as nicely as numerous Middle Eastern and Asian carriers.
Terminal 2 is the hub for the Star Alliance, when Terminal 5 was developed for British Airways — which now shares it with its sister provider, Iberia.
A spokesperson for Heathrow mentioned: “Our groups are doing work closely with our airline and other partners to be certain this move is as clean and economical and probable.
“Consolidating our operations will also help us to shield extensive-term careers at the airport by minimizing our expense foundation.”
“The major reduction in passenger targeted traffic will guarantee that travellers are equipped to proceed to adhere to the Government’s social distancing steerage even as the operation is consolidated.”
In the meantime, Europe’s airways, airports and similar small business are demanding quick financial aid, expressing: “The catastrophic effect Covid-19 is getting on the aviation market is plainly only at the beginning levels.”
A assertion issued jointly by Airways for Europe, Airports Council Intercontinental, the European Vacation Retail Confederation and other groups said: “Member states must deliver fiscal assistance as rapidly as probable to the full journey ecosystem. There is at the moment a income liquidity issue at each and every amount of the air vacation ecosystem.
“The aviation sector is a strategically critical sector. It need to be positioned as a vital enabler of Europe’s financial restoration after the disaster has handed.”
They declare that aviation signifies far more than 12 million work and €800bn (£705bn) in European economic activity.