Continued from page 40 Bevan declined to confirm

how many UK jobs at dnata Travel would go but said “in the hundreds”, with “redundancies across the board, from top to bottom, from senior management to call centre staff”. He said the merger of

Global Travel Group with The Travel Network Group should complete this month and the merger of Travel 2 with Gold Medal remains on course. Bevan said: “We’ve

restructured the whole of the UK dnata business and are simplifying a lot of systems.” Despite the tough times

ahead, Bevan said: “We’re ahead for 2021 even if you take out re- bookings. Fingers crossed they will let people go. For winter, it’s down to what will be open. If the Canary Islands reopen, they will be very popular.” Bevan will be sharing

his views at Abta’s Travel Convention on October 14, which will be a wholly virtual event. A member of the Abta board, he said: “I’m really pleased Abta decided to run the convention this year – to throw up debate around what has happened and move the debate forward is really important. “We’re at a turning point and

Abta has a big part to play.” He insisted: “A lot has to

change. The landscape is going to change. Tour operators’ responsibilities have to change. The industry has to come together more.”

Virgin Atlantic calls for testing to spur US flying

Ian Taylor

Virgin Atlantic confirmed transatlantic flights to the US are unlikely to resume until next year and announced plans to cut another 1,150 jobs on top of a previous round of 3,150 redundancies. The carrier called for a “robust

passenger testing regime to open the skies” to the US, noting “transatlantic flying represents 70% of Virgin Atlantic’s network”. The airline completed a

£1.2 billion recapitalisation through a court-sanctioned process last week

Virgin is seeking to cut 1,150 jobs despite sealing a £1.2bn recapitalisation

following legal hearings in the UK and US. Virgin Atlantic began a 45-day

consultation on the fresh job losses on Friday, having already cut the workforce by about one-third and closed its base at Gatwick. In a statement, the airline said

“the devastating impact of Covid-19 on aviation” meant it “must take further steps to ensure survival” as it embarks on the Restructuring Plan sanctioned by the courts. “The US border closure and UK

quarantine measures have been in place for far longer than anticipated.

These travel restrictions impact on Virgin Atlantic disproportionally given its long-haul operations focused on the transatlantic. “The opening of US borders and

removal of quarantine is imperative to recovery. Until travel returns in greater numbers, survival is predicated on reducing costs further and continuing to preserve cash.” The carrier confirmed it “is

planning to a scenario in which transatlantic flying from the UK does not extend beyond current skeleton operations until the start of 2021”. Virgin Atlantic chief executive

Shai Weiss said: “It’s clear the introduction of passenger testing is the only way to enable the removal of travel restrictions and open up flying to key markets while protecting public health.” In addition to the job losses,

Virgin announced its own furlough scheme for 600 cabin crew to replace the UK government scheme due to wind up at the end of October.

‘Consumers’ health concerns is biggest barrier for airlines’

Health concerns are “paramount” for potential air travellers, with Europe the only market to emerge from a global freeze on international travel, according to Iata. Iata chief economist Brian

October 14, 2020 (09.00-17.00) Brought to you virtually

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38 10 SEPTEMBER 2020

Pearce said: “There is absolutely no growth in international markets. The only market we see growth in is Europe. The issue for most

countries is borders are closed.” He said: “Business is more

confident. The challenge is consumers aren’t as confident.” Pearce insisted: “Health

concerns remain paramount. In Vietnam, the domestic market had fully recovered by July, but the reappearance of Covid saw the market push back down. “Policy is not helping. Even when

borders aren’t closed, quarantine is proving a barrier to travel.” He added: “Inconsistency of

policy is adding to the uncertainty, making it very difficult for airlines to plan. There is overcapacity

Brian Pearce

because demand is growing so slowly and consumers are booking much later. The gap between schedules and bookings is widening, which means airlines are burning cash, leaving their finances fragile.”

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