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Reaction to President Trump’s European COVID-19 Travel Ban

Reaction to President Trump’s European COVID-19 Travel Ban

On Wednesday night, President Trump made the stunning decision to ban travel to the United States from 26 European countries. The ban will come into effect on Friday and is set to last for 30-days. U.S. citizens and crew members will not be affected and flights will be allowed to operate for the time being.

In the coming days, U.S. citizens returning to the United States will be required to enter through one of several designated airports.

The travel is likely to have a massive impact on the aviation industry which is already reeling from a massive slump in demand. Many airlines and industry figures are still trying to come to terms with the news.

These are the airlines and organisations that have currently reacted to the news and will be updated throughout the day (many airlines have not yet publicly made any comment on last night’s development):

The European Commission

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the EU Commission Tweeted on Thursday morning: “In light of rapid developments, working on responses on all fronts to tackle #coronavirus impact”.

“Assessment with scientists, coordination of health and border measures, provision of protective equipment, package to prop up the EU economy,” the Tweet continued.

Leyen did not directly address the travel ban in her Tweet but the European Commission says its “disapproves” of the restrictions and that it was done “unilaterally” without consultation.

Flight attendants

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants who represents 50,000 crew members across the United States said of the ban:

“We know tonight’s address will add greatly to the panic already spreading across the country and contributing to the dramatic drop in bookings. The conflicting information and failure to focus our nation on saving lives is making this crisis worse. We are calling on all leaders in government to focus on solving the problem.”

“The announcement by the President this evening of a thirty-day travel ban to Europe is irresponsible,” her statement continued.

Lori Bassani, the president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) which represents crew at American Airlines said the decision had caused “major concern” for all aviation workers.

“I’ve heard from many of you and I know these are trying times for our members. I want you to know that we are continuing to work closely with our airline, other Unions, and contacts on Capitol Hill to do all we can to protect our health, our jobs and stability of the industry moving forward,” she said in a memo to AA’s 30,000 flight attendants.

Aer Lingus

Aer Lingus has not yet commented specifically on the travel ban but has urged passengers to remain patient as it deals with a surge in calls to its call centre.

American Airlines

“American continues to work closely with U.S. authorities to comply with these new orders while treating all of our customers with respect,” the airline said in a statement. The airline currently serves seven European cities on top of cancellations already announced for Italy and the suspension of some seasonal routes.

Austrian Airlines

Austrian, which is part of the Lufthansa Group, says it is still assessing the impact of the travel ban and will hopefully have more information to share later on Thursday.

British Airways

Although the United Kingdom has been exempt (for now), British Airways has put out a statement urging passengers to keep their details up to date because of the “fast-moving” events.

Delta Air Lines

“The safety and health of our customers and employees is always our highest priority. Delta has and will continue to quickly make adjustments to service, as needed, in response to government travel directives.” A spokesperson said a further statement would follow later.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

“Following the entry ban announced by the US for European countries, KLM is busy taking stock of the impact of this measure on our customers, flights, employees and the company. As soon as more is known, we will publish it on our newsroom and our flight update page on klm.com,” the Dutch flag-carrier said in a brief statement posted to its website.

Lufthansa

Having taken most of Thursday to assess the impact of the travel ban, Lufthansa now says it will continue to serve the United States with some limited flights. Lufthansa Group airlines will fly to the U.S. from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Belgium. At present, Lufthansa says it hopes to fly the following routes:

  • Frankfurt to Chicago
  • Frankfurt to New York Newark
  • Zurich to Chicago
  • Zurich to New York Newark
  • Vienna to Chicago
  • Brussels to Washington

All other destinations in the United States will be suspended for at least the duration of the travel ban.

Norwegian

Norwegian says it will ground 40 per cent of its long-haul fleet, cancel up to 25 per cent of all short-haul flights and temporarily lay off at least 50 per cent of its workforce.

“This is an unprecedented situation and our main priority continues to be the care and safety of our customers and colleagues. The new restrictions imposed further pressure on an already difficult situation. We urge international governments to act now to ensure that the aviation industry can protect jobs and continue to be a vital part of the global economic recovery,” commented Jacob Schram, Norwegian’s chief executive.

The majority of U.S. bound flights from Amsterdam, Madrid, Oslo, Stockholm, Barcelona and Paris will be axed from March 13 to March 29. The plan is to reroute as many customers via its London Gatwick base where a normal schedule will be retained.

Domestic flights in Norway are to be axed, so too all short-haul flights to Italy.

There was is speculation the loss-making airline may need to be nationalised by the Norwegian government.

Finnair

“The US authorities are setting restrictions for travel from Europe due to the coronavirus situation. We are addressing the impacts of this to our flights today and will then communicate to our customers. We are sorry about the uncertainty this is causing to our customers.”

Finnair has now confirmed it will cancel all flights to the United States between March 14 and April 14. Flights will, however, continue to New York until March 18 in order to repatriate people in the US.

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