Travel industry rallies behind China as they battle the deadly Corona Virus
The dreaded Corona Virus that has so far claimed over two thousand lives could cost the worldwide airline revenue over USD 5 billion dollars, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has said.
As the countries try to prevent the spread of the disease into their cities, airlines world wide have cancelled flights to China while Chinese airlines have been forced to cut down on their services due to poor demand for flights.
Kenya Airways was among the airlines that cancelled flights to China in a bid to protect their passengers and crew. Kenya Airways suspended all flights to and from Guangzhou in China on January 31.
Among other airlines that have suspended flights to China include Qatar Airways, Emirates, KLM, Egypt Air, Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa, RwandAir and British Airways.
ICAO reported that some 70 airlines have cancelled all international flights to/from mainland China, and that a further 50 airlines have curtailed related air operations. This has resulted in an 80% reduction of foreign airline capacity for travellers directly to/from China, and a 40% capacity reduction by Chinese airlines.
ICAO’s preliminary estimates indicate that the first quarter of 2020 has instead seen an overall reduction ranging from 39% to 41% of passenger capacity, or a reduction of 16.4 to 19.6 million passengers compared to what airlines had projected. This equates to a potential reduction of USD 4 to 5 billion in gross operating revenues for airlines worldwide.
The above estimates do not include potential impacts due to reductions in international air freight movements on cargo-only aircraft, airports, air navigation service providers, to Chinese domestic air traffic, or to international traffic with respect to the Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions of China, or its Taiwan Province.
With respect to major tourism-related impacts in the first quarter of 2020 due to reductions in Chinese air travellers, ICAO estimates that Japan could lose USD 1.29 billion in tourism revenue, followed by Thailand at USD 1.15 billion.
The agency also noted that Corona Virus impacts are expected to be greater than those caused by the 2003 SARS epidemic, in light of the higher volume and greater global extent of the flight cancellations being seen. Seasonal passenger load factors are another extenuating factor, as is the fact that China’s international air traffic has doubled, and its domestic traffic increased five-fold, since the 2003 period.
And as China struggles with the virus, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has urged against the stigmatisation of tourists and groups from China over the virus.
The president and CEO of the body that represents the global travel and tourism private sector Ms. Gloria Guevara made the appeal stating that the panic, seen as a way of containing the Corona Virus could run the risk of stigmatising one of the world’s biggest tourist groups and may cause long term harm.
The United Federation of Travel Agents Associations (UFTAA) noted that the virus has caused extreme damage due to the loss of lives and over 70, 000 infections.
The disaster, UFTAA President Mr Sunil Kumar said, has also disrupted tourism.
He urged the member agencies to honour the appeal of the China Association of Travel Services (CATS) for support and assistance as association members, in order to minimize the losses of Chinese Tourists and Chinese Travel Agencies to strengthen the much-affected Chinese Tourism.
Our Source: Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA)