PARIS (Reuters) – A patchwork of national restrictions and a reluctance among travellers to cross borders mean European airlines face a bumpier return to the skies from coronavirus lockdowns than U.S. and Asian rivals.
After almost three months of bleeding cash as air travel was brought to a virtual halt, airlines are returning to service or announcing more flights.
But while U.S. and Chinese domestic markets are starting to recover, the prospects in Europe look shakier.
“In comparison to every other part of the world, it’s lagging,” aviation analyst John Grant said of Europe during a recent presentation by industry data and analytics firm OAG.
Wariness of foreign travel weighs more heavily on European airlines, whose domestic markets are smaller and less profitable than U.S. and Asian rivals’, and more exposed to rail and road competition.
They must also contend with a variety of European restrictions, including Britain’s 14-day quarantine, which has prolonged the slump on contested health grounds.
That contrasts with larger unified markets in Asia and the Americas. In Brazil and India, domestic operations are picking up despite COVID-19 rates still growing faster than Europe’s.
Even shorter European trips put you in “a different country, with a different language and where you don’t know how the health system works,” said Joao Pita, head of airline business at Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos airport. “That’s different from domestic Brazil or domestic China.”
EasyJet (EZJ.L) and Lufthansa-owned (LHAG.DE) Brussels Airlines restarted operations this week as European internal borders reopened. Others including Air France (AIRF.PA), British Airways (ICAG.L) and Wizz Air (WIZZ.L) are increasing frequencies.
“We’re focusing on the performance of the flights and to make sure that we have flights where the Belgians want to fly,” Brussels Airlines CEO Dieter Vranckx said.
The problem is, many Belgians don’t want to fly anywhere much.
Among the 63% of Belgians still planning a 2020 holiday, the new top destination is Belgium, according to a survey reported by travel newsletter Pagtour. Runners-up France and the Netherlands are accessible by road or rail.
Despite the pared-down food service and mandatory masks on board, avoiding planes may not be the main concern.
Consumers in France are more interested in flying nine hours to the country’s Caribbean territory of Martinique than in a short hop to Spain or Italy, according to Google search data described to Reuters by an airline sales manager.
“Their thinking goes, ‘At least if I’m in a French overseas territory the government will have some obligation to look after me. I can turn up to a hospital and be served as if I’m in Paris,’” the manager said.
That spells bad news for all but a handful of European departures operated by the likes of Air Caraibes or Air France.
For European carriers forecast to lose $21.5 billion this year, a return to service promises no swift return to profit, with many flights expected to run below two-thirds full. The hope is to burn less cash in the air than on the ground.
The European sector is on course for a negative 14.3% return on invested capital this year, compared with projected deficits of 12.7% for Asia and 10.5% for North America, according to global airline body IATA.
Behind the relaunch publicity, airlines are still making schedule cuts that go deeper in Europe, experts say. Undersold flights are cancelled at least two weeks before departure, when passengers gain compensation rights.
Global schedules for this week have been reduced by 28.5 million seats to 40 million since late May, according to OAG. Western European capacity was slashed from 17.8 million seats to 3.9 million as rebound hopes receded.
“We’re keen to publish capacity because our messaging to the market is that none of us are blinking,” said one executive at a major European airline.
“We don’t want rivals to think they can add more capacity in our key markets,” he added. “Everyone’s playing that game at the moment – then we cancel if we see very poor bookings.”
Competitive pressure on fares may bring more pain as pent-up demand for travel thwarted by lockdowns is exhausted. Ryanair (RYA.I) CEO Michael O’Leary expects a price war, and many analysts agree.
Fares for July-September are down 7% year-on-year from Britain, 8% from France, 10% from Italy and 12% from Germany, according to Airbus-owned (AIR.PA) Skytra, which offers pricing data and risk management to airlines.
“Countries that are further along with the lifting of restrictions actually have the cheaper pricing,” the firm’s strategy chief Matthew Tringham said. “Probably because they’re trying to stimulate demand.”
Reporting and photo: Reuters
Atmosphere Core expands in South Asia with Atmosphere Living ultra-luxury residences
Atmosphere Core, a globally renowned name in hospitality, has announced the launch of Atmosphere Living as part of its continued expansion in South Asia. Headquartered in India, this new company will offer branded ultra-luxury residences with customised end-to-end amenities and indulgences, including coffee lounges, wine cellars, private transport, and bespoke concierge services.
The global branded residences market has experienced a remarkable 150 percent growth over the past decade, and projections indicate a surge in demand. With the real estate veteran Sandeep Ahuja at the helm as Managing Director, Atmosphere Living is strategically positioned to capitaliSe on this demand.
Atmosphere Living will focus on a conscious design philosophy. All properties will be built in harmony with the environment and will incorporate features such as smart recycling, efficient waste and water management, and green energy solutions.
Sharing his insights on the launch, Salil Panigrahi, Managing Director, Atmosphere Core, said, “Atmosphere Living will bring a distinctive offering to India, and is a brand to watch out for. It will combine Ahuja’s decades of experience, knowledge, and industry network in real estate with Atmosphere’s hospitality expertise, introducing unparalleled serviced residences in India.”
Positioned in major metropolitan areas, established second-home destinations, and undiscovered scenic locales nationwide, these projects will also present lucrative investment opportunities. Elite homeowners will have the option to lease their residences back to Atmosphere Living, allowing them to be rented out for income generation.
Sandeep Ahuja, Managing Director, Atmosphere Living, said, “There is currently a gap in the Indian realty landscape for ultra-indulgent serviced homes catering to affluent consumers. We aim to bridge this gap by curating serviced homes that offer indulgences such as entering homes using smart key cards, 24/7 butler services, fine dining, and co-working spaces, among others. Our ultimate desire is to enable our customers to experience a life of true luxury and exclusivity.”
A night of celestial wonders, luxury, and cosmic inspiration at Anantara Kihavah SKY Observatory by British astronaut Tim Peake
Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas celebrated a historic milestone with the exclusive visit of the renowned British astronaut, Tim Peake. On the evening of November 2, Astronaut Peake hosted an exclusive space talk at SKY Observatory, the finest overwater observatory in the Indian Ocean, housing the most powerful telescope in the Maldives.
Perched gracefully over the pristine Maldivian waters, SKY Observatory provided an idyllic setting for this extraordinary event, complemented by a stunning sunset. The exclusive gathering attracted a full house of eager guests to a delightful evening that seamlessly blended science, luxury, and natural beauty.
The evening commenced with a lovely cocktail reception, where guests were serenaded by the soulful tunes of a live saxophone band. Attendees savoured exquisite cocktails and canapés as they eagerly awaited Tim Peake’s presentation.
Tim Peake’s talk unveiled his personal journey, where he shared his path to becoming an astronaut and narrated the rigorous training that astronauts undergo. He provided insights into life in space, the daily challenges faced by astronauts, and the awe-inspiring experiences he encountered during his
historic mission. He also offered a glimpse into his exciting future projects, leaving the audience both inspired and spellbound.
Following Tim’s presentation, an interactive Q&A session allowed guests to engage directly with the British astronaut. The audience posed thoughtful questions, deepening their understanding of astronauts’ unique experiences and the intricacies of space exploration.
The event was further enriched by the presence of the resort’s three SKY gurus, Hammadh Rasheed, Zunnoon Ahmed, and Ali Arushal, who conducted a stargazing session for the guests afterward.
The success of the event was evident in the overwhelmingly positive feedback from attendees, who left with a deeper appreciation for space exploration and a memorable evening to cherish.
The evening marked a significant moment in Anantara Kihavah’s history, showcasing the resort’s commitment to offering unique and memorable experiences for its guests. The presence of Tim Peake, a celebrated astronaut and highly accomplished author, added an extraordinary dimension to the resort’s already spectacular offerings.
Tim Peake is a renowned British astronaut who made history as the first official British astronaut to visit the International Space Station (ISS) and conduct a spacewalk during his six-month mission. He also achieved the remarkable feat of running the London Marathon from space. Beyond his extraordinary space endeavours, Tim is also a bestselling author with his most recent book Space: A thrilling human history published earlier this month.
An astronomer’s paradise, Baa Atoll in the Maldives, is one of the best places on earth to enjoy stargazing due to its proximity to the equator. Anantara Kihavah Maldives Villas promises a voyage of discovery on a private Indian Ocean Island, with Sky—an overwater observatory and luxury cocktail bar—providing guests a chance to sip champagne under the stars and explore the Universe.
Visit Maldives website adds atolls segment to showcase diverse regions
Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation’s (MMPRC/ Visit Maldives) has added a new segment to the official Visit Maldives Website specified for atolls showcasing the diversity of the Maldives.
The segment, now live at atolls.visitmaldives.com provides in depth information regarding the different regions of the Maldives, divided by atolls, to refine the traveller’s experience, commencing with an in-depth exploration of Addu Atoll and Fuvahmulah Atoll.
With 26 atolls, the Maldives offers a wide array of unique accommodations and awe-inspiring travel experiences, and this informative section of our website will serve as a gateway to discover the hidden treasures unique to each area. This falls under MMPRC’s initiatives to encourage tourism growth in all regions of the Maldives, broadening exposure to the diverse tourism products available in the Maldives.
The goal is to elevate Visit Maldives’ digital marketing landscape by showcasing the Maldives as more than just a honeymoon destination with various accommodation options. This initiative is driven by a desire to increase awareness about the distinctive offerings within each of the Maldives’ atolls. It aims to positively shape their perception of the Sunny Side of Life brand by curating engaging content that highlights the unique features of the atolls and diverse experiences available in the islands.
Additionally, the initiative will target the affordable luxury market to promote the Maldives as the most appealing option for short holidays and weekend getaways under a unified Maldives brand umbrella.
MMPRC aims to continue exploring other atolls in the Maldives as well, encouraging growth and tourism development in all regions of the Maldives, building on the foundation we have created to promote the destination beyond the traditional paradigms of sun, sand, and sea.
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