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Airline bosses worried about Omicron variant’s impact

By Aziz El Yaakoubi and Kate Holton

DUBAI/LONDON (Reuters) – Airline bosses on Tuesday expressed concern that travel restrictions linked to the emergence of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus risk blowing the industry’s recovery away.

The strongest warning came from Emirates President Tim Clark, who said a major hit to December’s peak travel season would cause “significant damage” to the airline business. not global.

British low-cost carrier easyJet also said a drop in demand in recent weeks as a resurgence of the virus in parts of mainland Europe prompted customers to rethink plans to disrupt the city. .

The discovery of the Omicron variant, which was first reported in South Africa last week, has dealt a blow to the industry just as the industry is in the midst of a recovery, especially after easing travel to the United States. Period https://www.reuters.com/world/us/international-tourist-head-United-States-airlines-reopen-2021-11-08 earlier in November.

Many countries including Japan, the United States, Britain and Israel have imposed travel restrictions to slow the spread of the new variant, which they fear could prove more resistant to the vaccine. .

The next few weeks, the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, will prove important to the aviation industry as scientists assess risks, Clark said.

“I would say that perhaps by the end of December we will have a much clearer position,” Clark said in an interview for the Reuters Next conference https://reutersevents.com/events/next.

“But in that moment, December is a very important month for the air travel business,” he added. “If we lose that, or lose the winter for many airlines, there will be significant injuries in the business, certainly the airline business and the suburbs.”

LOST MONEY

The impact of the travel restrictions was evident in the financial results released Tuesday by easyJet and Scandinavian operator SAS.

EasyJet reported a pre-tax loss of £1.14 billion ($1.5 billion) for the year to the end of September, higher than forecast, while SAS remained in the red for the quarter from August. to October.

EasyJet said it was difficult to gauge the impact of the new variant but broader concern about the coronavirus was still affecting travellers.

“We see that there has been an impact, especially for short-term departures, but it is not to the extent of the impact and drop that we have seen on previous occasions when the restrictions were introduced. ” easyJet CEO Johan Lundgren told reporters.

Both easyJet and SAS note that a lot of people prefer to travel when the curbs are lifted.

“We remain cautious due to the current uncertainties, but see that underlying demand is good once restrictions are lifted, for both business and leisure travel,” SAS said. know.

(Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi in Dubai, Anna Ringstrom in Stockholm and Kate Holton in London; Writing by Keith Weir; Editing by Jan Harvey)

https://whbl.com/2021/11/30/airlines-bosses-worry-about-impact-of-omicron-variant/ Airline bosses worried about Omicron variant’s impact

JACLYN DIAZ

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