Passengers travelling with P&O Cruises will be forced to pass ‘rigorous’ medical checks before being allowed to board ships once sailings resume, the company said.
The UK’s biggest cruise line is developing plans to introduce a series of ‘stringent measures’ to ensure it obeys international health guidelines when it restarts operations once the coronavirus pandemic recedes.
Other changes being considered include reducing the capacity of ships, scrapping self-service buffets and implementing one-way systems on board.
Earlier this month, easyJet announced it expects to keep middle seats empty on its planes when it restarts flights to enable social distancing.
Passengers travelling with P&O Cruises will be forced to pass stringent medical checks before being allowed to board ships once sailings resume
P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said the cruise line is working with authorities such as Public Health England to ensure sailings adhere to guidance ‘without compromising enjoyment and experience’.
He continued: ‘These new stringent measures which may, no doubt, encompass rigorous pre-embarkation screening, changes to the onboard experience for guests and also working with our shore experience operators and ports of call, will be in place as soon as we reintroduce our ships.
How coronavirus has affected airlines in the UK over the past month
Flybe: Europe’s largest regional airline collapsed on March 5 after months on the brink, triggering 2,400 job losses and left around 15,000 passengers stranded across the UK and Europe. Flybe’s owners, a consortium including Virgin Atlantic, the Stobart Group and hedge fund firm Cyrus Capital, blamed coronavirus for hastening the ailing airline’s collapse. Flybe operated up to 50 UK routes, accounting for 40 per cent of all domestic flights, and was used by 9.5million passengers a year.
British Airways: The International Airlines Group, which also includes Iberia and Aer Lingus, said on March 16 that there would be a 75 per cent reduction in passenger capacity for two months, with boss Willie Walsh admitting there was ‘no guarantee that many European airlines would survive’.
easyJet: The airline with 9,000 UK-based staff including 4,000 cabin crew grounded its entire fleet of 344 planes on March 30. The Luton-based carrier said parking all of its planes ‘removes significant cost’ as the aviation industry struggles to cope with a collapse in demand.
Loganair: The Scottish regional airline said on March 30 that it expects to ask the Government for a bailout to cope with the impact of the pandemic. Loganair will go to the government despite being told by Finance Minister Rishi Sunak last week that airlines should exhaust all other options for funding, before asking for help.
Jet2: The budget holiday airline has suspended all of its flights departing from Britain until April 30. A number of Jet2 flights turned around mid-air last month while travelling to Spain when a lockdown was announced in the country.
Virgin Atlantic: The airline said on March 16 that it would have reduced its lights by 80 per cent by March 26, and this will go up to 85 per cent by April. It has also urged the Government to offer carriers emergency credit facilities worth up to £7.5billion.
Ryanair: More than 90 per cent of the Irish-based airline’s planes are now grounded, with the rest of the aircraft providing repatriation and rescue flights.
‘We will then get used to them in the same way as we got used to airline hand luggage restrictions.
‘They will become the new normal and they will give us reassurance and peace of mind.’
But today the firm revealed it may have to make ‘changes’ to the business in a bid to survive the pandemic.
A P&O spokesman said in a statement: ‘The Covid-19 pandemic has not only affected the holidays of our guests but it has also impacted every part of our business; our future deployment; the guest experience; our supply chain and our people on ship and on shore.
‘During our pause in operations we have tried to create as much certainty and stability as possible for our team members.
‘Unfortunately though and like many businesses, as Covid-19 has continued to impact our way of life it will be necessary to make changes to our organisation to build a stable platform for the time we phase our ships back into service and for future growth.’
P&O Cruises confirmed last week that its sailings are suspended until at least the end of July.
All cruise ships operated by major companies have stopped commercial trips.
In recent weeks many were forced to cut their itineraries short and some were left in limbo when ports refused to let them dock over fears of increasing the spread of coronavirus.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said more than 19,000 British holidaymakers travelling on 59 liners around the world affected by the pandemic have been repatriated.
Yesterday, it was revealed the owner of P&O Ferries is pleading with the Government for a £150million bailout – as it prepares to hand shareholders nearly £270million.
Dubai-based DP World says P&O, which started running ferry services in the UK in the late 1960s, needs the emergency cash to avoid collapse.
Travel restrictions have resulted in a collapse in passengers on its routes, which include Dover to Calais, Hull to Rotterdam and Liverpool to Dublin.
P&O also transports 15 per cent of all goods in and out of the UK.
A number of ships have now been taken out of service and 1,400 P&O staff have been furloughed using a taxpayer-funded scheme.
But critics said the firm should instead stop ‘wasting’ money on investor payouts and slammed its millionaire bosses.
DP World boss Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, who was paid £5.4million last year, has dismissed suggestions of scrapping the dividend and branded the UK government’s response to the pandemic ‘slow’ after pleas for money received no immediate reply.
But Luke Hildyard, director of the High Pay Centre, said: ‘Mega-wealthy individuals and huge corporations don’t seem to understand that we need the Government to protect jobs and incomes for millions of workers and provide resources for critical public services like the NHS, because they have no idea of the hardship that many people are going through.
‘In some cases, public money will be required to support businesses. But it can’t then be wasted on huge payouts for executives and investors and assurances to this effect should be required first.’
Will air travel get more expensive?
According to analysis by US-based Dollar Flight Club, we can expect lower airfare prices in the short term, before prices rise dramatically by 2025.
Through to 2021, the flight deals service found there would be a 35 per cent decrease in prices on average, as airlines desperately attempt to draw customers back in.
But over the next four years, prices would then rise by over a quarter above pre-crisis levels as demand outstrips a significantly reduced supply.
The data indicates more severe drops and subsequent price hikes than were experienced either during 9/11 or from the financial crash.
‘Passengers in smaller or short-haul markets can expect significant cuts in scheduled air service as airlines downsize operations,’ read the report.
‘This will make it significantly more expensive and harder for these passengers to travel. In these markets, we can expect train and bus travel to see significant growth.’
The club found that over the next year, customers could get a roundtrip from Los Angeles to London for $329, or a roundtrip from New York to Amsterdam for $278.
DP World says P&O, which it bought last year for £322million and is based in Dover, will collapse without a £257million rescue package.
It wants £150million to be provided by the UK Government. This is despite DP World being more than 80 per cent-owned by the Dubai government, which will take a hefty portion of the company’s planned £267million dividend today, and reported profits of more than £1billion last year.
In addition to P&O, DP World also owns the Southampton and London Gateway ports, and dozens of other global terminals.
Bin Sulayem said P&O played a ‘vital role’ in the UK economy and warned that thousands of jobs depended on it.
He told the BBC: ‘The Government has been slow. We need to safeguard jobs. A lot of people’s lives depends on this company.’
He rejected suggestions DP World should postpone its dividend because it had ‘never taken a penny out’. ‘Any profits we have made we have reinvested in new vessels,’ he added.
‘DP World owns many businesses. You cannot just take money out of them to put into a company in another place – it doesn’t make sense.’
The controversy comes after other wealthy tycoons such as Sir Richard Branson were criticised for seeking government aid.
A government spokesman said: ‘We recognise how challenging this period is for the transport sector and encourage all firms to make use of the further changes to business support, helping make funds easier to access.
‘We’re committed to working with industry leaders, to offer the support they need and help provide certainty for workers.
‘We will continue to directly engage maritime companies and associations to tackle these challenges.’
The Great British Staycation is on hold ‘for some time to come’: Seaside towns and tourist hotspots face more misery after lockdown as public is told to stay away… and also avoid foreign holidays
British holidaymakers hoping to visit UK tourism hotspots such as seaside towns were warned today they will be unable to do so ‘for some time to come’.
Many workers with pre-booked annual leave who had been hoping to travel abroad this spring or summer will now be turning their sights to a holiday in Britain.
But Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove told MPs that ‘at the moment and for some time to come’ people should not travel to visit popular resorts such as Cornwall.
Residents of many beauty spots including Cornwall and Snowdonia have also made it clear that they do not want tourist visitors while coronavirus is still a danger – erecting home made signs urging non-locals to go home.
Mr Gove also said that knowing that coronavirus spreads more easily inside than outside ‘will be an important factor’ when debating the end of lockdown measures.
Tourism bosses have been working on proposals to allow some businesses and attractions to open, but concerns remain over how this will impact social distancing.
Visit Britain has estimated the ongoing pandemic will cost the tourism industry around £15billion this year, with 22million fewer visitors to the UK.
The Foreign Office imposed a ban on all but essential international travel on March 17 but this was latere extended indefinitely – with no signs yet of when it may be lifted.
Mr Gove’s comments came after Tory MP Steve Double, for St Austell and Newquay, said: ‘Would the Secretary of State join me in thanking the Devon and Cornwall Police for their proactive approach in preventing people travelling to Cornwall for non-essential purposes including to visit their second homes and for a holiday?
‘One of the biggest concerns of people in Cornwall is that as we start to ease the lockdown, we will start to see an influx of people coming to Cornwall and risk another wave.
‘So can my right honourable friend assure me that as the Government considers lifting the restrictions, it will come with clear and enforceable travel restrictions to prevent this from happening?’
Mr Gove replied: ‘My honourable friend is right, Cornwall is beautiful, visiting it is a pleasure, but at the moment and for some time to come, don’t.’
Visit Britain has said options for restarting the tourism trade include restricting the number of people allowed through the door of theme parks, museums and gardens.
Another possibility would be to allow visitors to buy time-restricted tickets, while council patrols could police beaches, piers and proms to prevent crowding.
Campsites might open if they allow greater distances between pitches and, in theory, restaurants could set a greater gap between tables.
Some hotels are large enough to apply social distancing rules, but this will be near impossible with smaller establishments such as B&Bs.
Also today, Andrew Griffith, Conservative MP for Arundel and South Downs, called for garden centres to be reopened in the first wave of changes to the restrictions.
Mr Griffith warned that garden centres across the UK are ‘economically wilting with every day of the peak growing season that they remain closed’.
‘When the time is right, but I hope that will be soon, that the outdoor economy and garden centres, including those in West Sussex, are in the first wave of modifications as they’re important to the emerging mental health crisis, as well as – if you’ll let me put it this way – economically wilting with every day of the peak growing season that they remain closed,’ he said.
Mr Gove replied: ‘He also makes a valid point about garden centres. One of the things we know about this disease is that it spreads more easily inside than outside and as the Government reflects on how to lift current restrictions, that will be an important factor.’
British Airways will make up to 12,000 workers redundant as owners IAG say it will take airline years to recover from coronavirus crisis
By Luke May for MailOnline
Thousands of British Airways workers look set to lose their jobs as its owners IAG announced redundancies on Tuesday afternoon.
Airline companies have been struggling to run as the coronavirus lockdown grounds planes around the world. BA had already started struggling after it furloughed more than half of its 45,000 workers.
In a statement, IAG said: ‘In light of the impact of Covid-19 on current operations and the expectation that the recovery of passenger demand to 2019 levels will take several years, British Airways is formally notifying its trade unions about a proposed restructuring and redundancy programme.
‘The proposals remain subject to consultation but it is likely that they will affect most of British Airways’ employees and may result in the redundancy of up to 12,000 of them.
‘As previously announced, British Airways has availed itself of the UK’s Covid-19 job retention scheme and furloughed 22,626 employees in April.’
British Airways’ owners will make up to 12,000 staff redundant as airline company’s struggle to cope with a drop in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic, it comes as the company’s planes are grounded across the coutnry, including at Bournmeouth, above
Passenger numbers are expected to halve compared to 2019, with the likes of Flybe already going into administration before full lockdown measures were in place in Britain.
In a statement, BA chief executive Alex Cruz said the company is only running a ‘handful’ of flights from Heathrow each day.
‘Our very limited flying schedule means that revenues are not coming into our business. We are taking every possible action to conserve cash, which will help us to weather the storm in the short-term,’ he wrote.
Mr Cruz added the company was working with partners and supplies to re-negotiate contracts and and ‘discuss repayment terms’.
British Airline Pilots’ Association’s response:
BALPA General Secretary, Brian Strutton said:
‘BA pilots and all staff are devastated by the announcement of up to 12,000 possible job losses in British Airways.
‘This has come as a bolt out of the blue from an airline that said it was wealthy enough to weather the COVID storm and declined any Government support.
‘BALPA does not accept that a case has been made for these job losses and we will be fighting to save every single one.’
‘All of these actions alone are not enough,’ he told workers.
His letter continued: ‘There is no Government bailout standing by for BA and we cannot expect the taxpayer to offset salaries indefinitely. Any money we borrow now will only be short-term and will not address the longer-term challenges we will face.
‘We do not know when countries will reopen their borders or when the lockdowns will lift, and so we have to reimagine and reshape our airline and create a new future for our people, our customers and the destinations we serve.
‘We have informed the Government and the Trade Unions of our proposals to consult over a number of changes, including possible reductions in headcount.’
Furloughed cabin crew member Karen said she was ‘heartbroken,’ over the news on LBC on Tuesday evening.
She said: ‘I’m cabin crew, I’ve been there thirty years and to hear from you that me and millions of my colleagues may be losing our jobs is just heartbreaking.’
General secretary of pilots’ union Balpa, Brian Strutton, said the decision had come as a ‘bolt out of the blue,’ adding the union did not accept BA had a case for the proposed job losses.
News that thousands of people will lose their jobs comes weeks after the airline company’s Spanish owners axed a controversial £300million payout to shareholders earlier this month.
Madrid-based International Airlines Group proposed a dividend of around 17p per share in February, when the ravages of the killer virus on society and the global economy were already apparent.
But chief financial officer Stephen Gunning said the cash would instead be used to keep the company going through the virus crisis.
One former manager in BA’s finance team told MailOnline earlier in April: ‘Don’t blame the virus. This company has been mismanaged for years. IAG have simply sucked the life out of it’.
Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG, at British Airways’ headquarters in Hammondsworth, was previously chief exec of BA and Aer Lingus
Alex Cruz, British Airways’ CEO, told staff in a letter the airline company was taking ‘every possible action to conserve cash’
Other airline companies have felt the strain of internationally travel all but grounding to a halt during the global pandemic.
Flybe went into administration in March, while Sir Richard Brnason is reportedly looking for an investor for Virgin Atlantic.
He failed to secure a government bailout with his £80 million private island as collateral, reports indicate.
The billionaire’s pursuit of a £500million taxpayer intervention has effectively been shelved and the airline is concentrating on getting new backing from private investors, according to the Sunday Telegraph.
Around 50 possible backers are said to have inquired about the company – with suitors presented with options to inject debt, equity or convertible loans, which could potentially leave face of the brand Sir Richard with no residual stake.
‘All options’ were said to remain on the table after the investment bank hired by Virgin Atlantic, Houlihan Lokey, reportedly sounded out more than 100 possible financial institutions.
Potential investors are said to include Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek and Wall Street investor Cerberus Capital Management.
The head of Ryanair, Michael O’Leary, brushed off forecasts of a sluggish recovery, saying he expected a swift traffic rebound fuelled by ‘massive price-dumping’ in a race to win back passengers.
Low cost airlines have been criticised for their ‘tin-eared response’ to the crisis by offering vouchers rather than refunds to customers on cancelled flights, in a desperate attempt to save cash.
Aviation consultant Andrew Charlton told the Guardian: ‘You will never see a 747 flying again, and the only A380s will have Emirates painted on the side.’
Mr Charlton said: ‘Yes, passengers will travel by banking their vouchers … But people being burnt by that now aren’t going to book ahead in future – it’s collapsing confidence in booking.’
Larger airlines have also announced measures to build confidence in customers fearful of infection from cramped cabin space, with Emirates trialling a rapid blood test, where the results are available in 10 minutes, on all passengers on one flight from Dubai to Tunisia this week.
Global traffic is now down 80 per cent year-on-year, quashing recent forecasts that the number of airline passengers would double within 20 years.
The International Air Transport Association has said passenger revenues will plunge by about £250billion or 55 per cent in 2020 due to the pandemic.
In late March, the IATA, which represents 290 carriers, forecast that half of the world’s airlines would run out of cash within two to three months.
Is THIS what flying economy class will look like after the coronavirus crisis? Designs emerge of cabins where passengers are shielded by screens to help prevent further outbreaks
- Italian-based design firm Aviointeriors has come up with two cabin concepts
- The ‘Janus’ layout would see the middle seat on a row placed in a reverse position
- Transparent ‘hoods’ are placed over each seat in the firm’s ‘Glassafe’ cabin
By JENNIFER NEWTON FOR MAILONLINE
Welcome onboard the economy cabins of the near-future – where plane passengers are shielded from each other by plastic screens.
Designs have emerged for two post-coronavirus economy cabin concepts aimed at helping to prevent future pandemics.
The ‘Janus’ takes its inspiration from the ancient two-faced Roman god and has a reversed centre seat, while the ‘Glassafe’ concept sees each seat fitted with a ‘hood’.
The Janus seat concept that has been designed by aircraft interior design firm Aviointeriors
The Janus concept would see the middle seat of a row placed in a reverse position, which Aviointeriors says will ‘ensure maximum isolation between passengers’
The Janus takes its inspiration from the ancient two-faced Roman god
The designs are by Italian firm Aviointeriors, which has released renderings of both concepts.
Aviointeriors says the Janus seat will ‘ensure the maximum isolation between passengers seated next to each other’.
While passengers seated on the side seats, aisle and fuselage, continue to face in the direction of travel, the passenger sitting in the centre is facing backwards.
Aviointeriors explained: ‘Each passenger has their own space isolated from others, even from people who walk through the aisle.
‘Each Janus seat is surrounded on three sides by a high shield that prevents the breath propagation to occupants of adjacent seats.
‘It is made of easy cleaning and safe hygienic materials. The option is available with the shield in opaque material or with different degrees of transparency.’
Breathe easy: The Glassafe concept, which Aviointeriors describes as a ‘kit-level solution’
Glassafe, meanwhile, is described as a ‘kit-level solution’ that can be installed on existing aircraft seats.
It would see screens installed around the top of the seats, which Aviointeriors says would make sitting in ‘close proximity safer’.
It added: ‘Glassafe is made of transparent material to make the entire cabin harmonious and aesthetically light, but perfectly fulfilling the objective of creating an isolated volume around the passenger.
‘This is in order to avoid or minimize contacts and interactions via air between passenger and passenger, so as to reduce the probability of contamination by viruses or other.
Aviointeriors says: ‘Glassafe is made of transparent material to make the entire cabin harmonious and aesthetically light’
An aerial view of the Glassafe concept. Aviointeriors says: ‘We have worked and we will continue to develop products specifically designed to make the travels of the near-future post-virus ever safer’
‘Glassafe is supplied in various executions with fixing systems to the seat that allow easy installation and removal.’
A spokesman for Aviointeriors says: ‘All national authorities worldwide are trying to block this pandemic through a series of actions and recommendations and we want to contribute with our ideas and proposals in the interests of the whole community.
‘With this objective in mind, we have studied new solutions that take into account social distancing among passengers sitting in economy class, where there is a condition of higher density, but with characteristics that remain applicable even in the lower density classes such as premium economy or business class.
‘We have worked and we will continue to develop products specifically designed to make the travels of the near-future post-virus ever safer and in accordance with the new requirements for passengers who will have to share the spaces available for the duration of the transport.’
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