- Category: Industry News
Update 6.9.21: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released updated guidance on international travel this week. To view their recommendations for traveling to specific countries (based on infection and death rates from COVID), click here.
Vaccination rates have been skyrocketing in both the US and UK, with at least 40 percent of the overall population inoculated in both countries (rates are even greater for adults), yet air travel restrictions and COVID quarantine mandates still remain in place between the nations. Due to the filtration process on flights where the cabin’s air is recycled every two to four minutes and run through HEPA filters, air travel has among the lowest rates of COVID transmissibility, especially when passengers are also wearing masks. Infections and deaths from COVID have been rapidly declining in the past few months.
The CEOs of the major airlines that offer service to the UK and US—American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, United Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic—have taken their case to the airwaves. Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye and U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow were also among the leaders joining the meeting. Just ahead of the G7, where both President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be meeting later this week, the CEOs cited the costs associated with the yearlong stoppage and pleaded for the policies to be amended in line with the positive COVID news—hoping to avoid another “lost” and financially devastating travel season. Domestic travel in the respective countries has been strongly rebounding.
“Throughout the pandemic, experts have encouraged governments, businesses, and the public to follow the science. United and other airlines have done just that and implemented the necessary safety protocols to confidently reopen key international routes like the air corridor between our two countries. Programs like the trials of COVID-free flights between Newark and Heathrow and the US Department of Defense air filtration study conducted on board United aircraft not only contributed to the body of scientific knowledge, they have demonstrated the near non-existent rates of viral transmission aboard an aircraft. And now, through mobile app, travelers can upload verified test results and vaccine records before international travel. All this with the successful leadership of vaccination efforts by both governments, no interests are served by delaying re-opening of these essential air routes any longer,” said United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby.
“The millions of travel-supported US jobs lost to the pandemic cannot be replaced without the return of international visitors, and the UK is our number one overseas travel market. Advancing a science-driven approach to restart international travel is crucial, and a US-UK corridor is a logical place to start because of the two countries’ excellent records on vaccinations and declining infections, as well as their strong relationship,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow.
Of course, amending regulations presents new problems as proof of vaccinations becomes the gold standard in lifting these mandates, and airlines and airports struggle with protocols. As such, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) warned of potential airport chaos unless governments move quickly to adopt digital processes to manage travel health credentials (COVID testing and vaccine certificates) and other COVID measures.
According to data collected by IATA, passengers spent about 1.5 hours on average in travel processes for every journey (from check-in to customs to baggage claim) prior to COVID. New data indicates that airport processing times have increased to more than 3 hours during peak time with travel volumes at only about 30 percent of pre-COVID levels; the most severe increases have been felt at check-in and border control where this paperwork is checked. Without mitigating circumstances and streamlining the process, the IATA projects that travelers could spend upwards of more than 5 hours at 75 percent pre-COVID capacity or more than 8 hours at 100 percent pre-COVID capacity—just at the airport alone.
IATA is calling for universal digital solution—namely with so-called digital passports—to clear the bottleneck and “prevent chaos.”
“Without an automated solution for COVID-19 checks, we can see the potential for significant airport disruptions on the horizon. Already, average passenger processing and waiting times have doubled from what they were pre-crisis during peak time—reaching an unacceptable three hours. And that is with many airports deploying pre-crisis level staffing for a small fraction of pre-crisis volumes. We must automate the checking of vaccine and test certificates before traffic ramps up. The technical solutions exist. But governments must agree to digital certificate standards and align processes to accept them. And they must act fast,” said IATA Director General Willie Walsh.
Further, he said that an agreement (on a unified digital passport) between the G7 nations was critical as it would “cover nearly one-third of all travelers.” The G7 comprises Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US.
The 47th G7 Summit takes place this week in Cornwall, England.
- Category: Industry News
Limo Command, a provider of office management solutions for ground transportation companies, has announced that Emily Patterson, industry expert and owner of YID Concierge and Limo Dispatch Service, has joined their team.
Limo Command’s mission is to provide critical office support to chauffeur car operators, offering tailored dispatch, reservations, call answering, virtual assistant, billing and collections, and business development services. YID Concierge offered many of these services to the chauffeured car industry over the years, and Patterson’s expertise will a great fit with Limo Command.
“I am so happy that Emily is now a part of the Limo Command team,” says Limo Command Founder Joey Allen. “Her years of experience leading YID Concierge will provide a depth to our team and the services we offer. During this time of rebuilding and growth, Emily is a great asset to us and a benefit to our clients.”
“I'm very excited that YID Concierge is now part of Limo Command,” adds Patterson. “I am happy to use my knowledge of this industry in my role here at Limo Command, and I look forward to what the future brings.
Visit limocommand.com for more information.
- Category: Industry News
The leisure & hospitality (L&H) sector continues to be the big winner in the most recent May jobs report, released June 4 by the US Department of Labor. The sector was the hardest hit during the pandemic, reflecting 39 percent of all jobs lost in 2020, but has been clawing its way back as the economy improves and people return to regular activities. L&H represents a broad swath of industries, including hotels, restaurants, and travel.
Overall, 559,000 jobs were added in May, of which 292,000 were in L&H. Vaccination rates have leveled off in recent weeks, although more than 63 percent of US adults and 43 percent of the overall population (vaccinations are currently available to people over 12 years of age) have received at least one dose of the vaccination as of June 7, which has prompted many states to relax mask and capacity restrictions and allow more businesses to open with greater numbers of people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also dropped its mask mandate for fully vaccinated individuals in May.
While the good news is the sector is ramping up for a robust second half of 2021, the issue of hiring or rehiring has been a problem for many businesses in our industry. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that salaries have increased in L&H, up from $14.58 in May 2020 to $15.87 in May 2021 (non-supervisory positions). Salaries were trending upward around 1-2 percent since 2017, although dropped sharply in 2020 as the pandemic shut down most of the travel and hospitality businesses here and globally. The difficulty in filing key roles and competition for better-paying jobs may force those in our industry to raise wages to attract and keep workers, which could be a tenuous situation for already cash-strapped companies.
The next jobs report is due July 2.