As Coronavirus Spreads, U.S. Travel Providers Are Cutting Back Their Services. Here’s How That’s Impacting Transportation Workers
Travel to — and throughout — the United States has rapidly dropped in recent days, driven by concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus. On Wednesday night, President Donald Trump announced a month-long ban on most non-U.S. citizens traveling from Europe in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus — and on Saturday said the ban will extend to the United Kingdom and Ireland — although the move has been criticized as ineffective at stopping a virus that is already in the U.S.
Trump’s orders follow a widely-reported trend of people across and the U.S. (and across the world) canceling or curtailing travel plans in an attempt limit their risk of contracting COVID-19. This practice of self-isolation, known as social distancing, has already had a major impact on many major forms of mass transportation across the U.S. and internationally; here’s how’s how the travel industry is responding — across flights, trains, cruise ships and more — and what it means for the industry’s workforce.
How is the airline industry affected by coronavirus?
The airline industry has already been heavily impacted. According to OAG,
a global travel data provider, the number of scheduled flights is globally down by 10% compared to the second week of March in 2019.
Many U.S. and European companies have been hit particularly hard by President Trump’s travel ban on non-U.S. citizens who have visited Europe’s Schengen Area, a collection of 26 countries that do not restrict travel amongst each other including Italy, Spain and France. Per OAG, the ban will affect passengers arriving on nearly 7,000 flights over the next month.
A spokesperson for Airlines for America, a trade association and lobbying group that represents major U.S. airlines, told TIME in a statement on Friday that, “We respect President Trump’s decision to take action to prevent the spread of the virus as our top priority is
– and always will be – the safety and well-being of all passengers and crew. However, the government-imposed travel restrictions have triggered rapid and severe damage to the airline industry.”
represents major U.S. airlines,代表美国主要航空公司
U.S. airlines directly employ 750,000 workers; the industry as a whole supports 10 million jobs. “The economic impact on U.S. airlines, their employees, travelers and the shipping public is staggering,” the spokesperson continues. New flight bookings for the next 90 days are down by 65-75%.
flight attendants 空乘
The flight attendant’s union the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) told TIME on Friday that they’ve seen a general reduction in the availability of flight hours but have not yet been made aware of any involuntary furloughs. However, flight attendants are generally paid by the hour, and that drop could be costly.
the International President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA — which represents 50,000 flight attendants at 20 airlines — explains to TIME that 80% of flight attendants in the industry are organized, and that their contracts provide pay protections that help mitigate schedule loss. However, most flight attendants work more hours than such pay protections account for, and depend on the income from those extra hours.
Nelson also told TIME that the AFA-CWA has worked with airlines to secure contractual pay protection in the current months’ schedule and has worked with management of multiple airlines to determine how much voluntary, unpaid leave they’ll offer. Nelson says that flight attendants will still have their health insurance while on leave, “which is critically important as we’re facing this pandemic.” Flight attendants on leave will also maintain their seniority.
Departure lounge at Ruzyne – Vaclav Havel Airport, Prague, Czech Republic.
aviation-images.com/Universal Images Group—Getty Images
The Air Line Pilots Association, a union that represents over 63,000 pilots, tweeted on March 11, “ALPA’s Air Safety Organization is closely monitoring the 2019 novel #coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
and will continue to meet regularly and provide timely information to our pilot groups as the situation progresses.”
The airline most affected by the the U.S.-Schengen area travel ban will be Delta Airlines, which was scheduled to fly 17% of flights affected by Trump’s ban, per OAG. On Friday, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in a memo to all Delta employees world-wide that the company would reduce an unprecedented 40% of its overall capacity over the next few months — parking up to 300 aircrafts. This will be the largest reduction in the company’s history, including 9/11.
in a memo 在一个备忘录中
scheduled to fly 原定要飞行的
Bastian also said Delta would immediately offer voluntary short-term unpaid leave and institute a company-wide hiring freeze. It also will reportedly reduce its use of consultants and contractors.
consultants and contractors. 顾问和承包商
“Through this unprecedented and evolving business environment in the COVID-19 pandemic, Delta’s values remain stronger than ever. This includes taking care of our people and letting our values lead. To that end, we are offering employees the voluntary option to take a 30, 60 or 90-day unpaid leave while retaining full benefits and enhanced travel privileges including confirmed flights,” a Delta spokesperson told TIME on Saturday.
taking care of our people 照顾我们的员工
The AFA-CWA’s Nelson told TIME on Friday that Delta is the only major airline whose flight attendants are not unionized, and she’s concerned what this could mean for workers.
United Airlines is the second-most affected by the ban; it was scheduled to operate 14% of affected flights, per OAG. The airline was also one of the first to take drastic action because of the spread of the virus. On March 4, United announced it would reportedly offer voluntary, unpaid leave for U.S. based employees, would institute a hiring freeze and postpone salary increases.
On Tuesday, United announced that it would cut 20 percent of its flights indefinitely until demand increases, according to The Washington Post. Its CEO and president will also reportedly forgo their base salaries through June. United President Scott Kirby said that airline’s domestic net books are down 70% as of Tuesday, per ABC News.
“We are reviewing our flight and crew schedules to comply with the administration’s travel restrictions,” United told TIME in a statement sent on Thursday, March 12. “As always, we will continue to provide our customers and employees with the very latest information as it develops.”
American Airlines is the fourth most affected by the U.S.-Schengen ban, per OAG, and announced on Thursday that it would suspend multiple routes to Europe and South America through May. When asked for comment, American Airlines referred TIME to a letter sent to all its team members on Thursday night, which announced that the company would suspend all hiring and leadership moves, postpone pay increases, and offer extended unpaid, voluntary leaves of absence. The letter also said that American Airlines is extending a two-week paid sick policy for all team members who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are quarantined.
paid sick policy带薪病假政策
Many other U.S. and European airline companies have been hurt by the threat of COVID-19. The German company Lufthansa is the third most affected by the U.S.-Schengen Area travel ban, for example. But even before Trump’s announcement, the airline had already canceled 23,000 flights between March 29 and April 24.
“Our primary goal is to keep as many of our employees on board as possible,” a Lufthansa spokesperson told TIME in an emailed statement. “The extremely urgent decisions on reduced working hours are an important milestone in this regard… The Lufthansa Group has launched an extensive savings program. This includes an immediate hiring freeze, as well as cost reductions in personnel, material and project costs. We are using all available means to secure our liquidity.”
extremely urgent decisions 非常紧急的决定
in this regard在这方面
On Thursday, Norwegian Air also announced it would suspend over 4,000 flights and implement temporary layoffs of up to 50% of their employees. Norwegian did not respond to TIME’s request for comment as to what would happen to its workers.