This week’s news round-up begins with several uplifting stories from Asia, where the travel industry is showing encouraging signs of emerging from the coronavirus crisis.
The Straits Times has reported rising demand for domestic air travel in China, where the first COVID-19 cases were recorded. Three of the country’s airlines – Air China, China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines – recorded growth in passenger numbers in July, up by around 25% from June. Residents are also taking advantage of eased travel restrictions and the reopening of businesses, with occupancy rates at Shanghai hotels reaching 65% this month compared to just 6% in February.
At the same time, Singapore and Thailand have both agreed to speed up the development of a green lane for essential business travel between the two nations, in a bid to strengthen supply chains and trade. And in South Korea – the world’s largest duty free market – the government has introduced relief measures to ease the burden of coronavirus on the airport retail sector, including extending the suspension of concessions rent due at airports to medium- and large-sized companies.
There has been more challenging news for travel across Europe, with Gatwick Airport announcing this week that it plans to cut 600 jobs as a result of the ‘devastating impact of COVID-19’. Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate said it was working with the government on ways to support the travel industry while introducing measures to help passengers safely travel abroad.
The race to adapt airports to meet new coronavirus hygiene standards continues at pace. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has introduced three new ‘Sanitising Service’ points in its lounges and arrival halls, which use UV-C lights to help passengers disinfect phones, passports and other belongings. Tokyo Haneda Airport is also trialling two state-of-the-art touchless kiosks, which use infrared sensors to enable passengers to check-in without touching a screen.
On the lighter side of travel news, a story about the launch of the world’s first India to England bus tour has raised a few smiles. The service will take up to 20 passengers on a 70-day journey between Delhi and London, taking in the sights of 18 countries including Russia and China. The catch? The full tour package will set you back an eye-watering £15,000.