Confirmed swine flu cases still growing - LATEST Aviation Updates
World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed (19-Jun-09), 94 countries have officially reported 44,287 cases of influenza A(H1N1) infection. More updates from around the world...
The following updates were current at noon 06:00 GMT, 22-Jun-09:
(For daily updates direct to your inbox, sign-up now for a complimentary subscription to America Airline Daily).
World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed (22-Jun-09), 99 countries have officially reported 52,160 cases of influenza A(H1N1) infection, including 231 deaths. Argentina has reported 1,010 laboratory confirmed human cases, including seven deaths. Australia has reported 2,436 laboratory confirmed human cases, including one death. Canada has reported 5,710 laboratory confirmed human cases, including 13 deaths. Chile has reported 4,315 laboratory confirmed human cases, including four deaths. Colombia has reported 71 laboratory confirmed human cases, including two deaths. Costa Rica has reported 149 laboratory confirmed human cases, including one death. Dominican Republic has reported 93 laboratory confirmed cases, including one death. Guatemala has reported 208 laboratory confirmed human cases, including one death. Mexico has reported 7,624 laboratory confirmed human cases of infection, including 113 deaths. The United Kingdom has reported 2,506 laboratory confirmed human cases, including one death. The United States has reported 21,449 laboratory confirmed human cases, including 87 deaths.
The following countries have reported laboratory confirmed cases with no deaths – Algeria (1), Austria (9), Bahamas (2), Bahrain (15), Bangladesh (1), Barbados (4), Belgium (29), Bermuda (1), Bolivia (25), Brazil (131), British Virgin Islands (1), Brunei Darussalam (1), Bulgaria (2), Cayman Islands (4), China (739), Cuba (15), Cyprus (4), Czech Republic (7), Denmark (23), Dominica (1), Ecuador (95), Egypt (39), El Salvador (160), Estonia (5), Fiji (1), Finland (13), France (147), French Polynesia (1), France, Martinique (1), Germany (275), Greece (48), Honduras (108), Hungary (7), Iceland (4), India (44), Ireland (23), Israel (291), Italy (88), Jamaica (19), Japan (850), Jordan (13), Kuwait (26), Laos (2), Lebanon (12), Luxembourg (3), Malaysia (23), Morocco (6), Netherlands (91), Netherlands, Curacao (3), Netherlands, Sint Maarten (1), New Zealand (258), Nicaragua (189), Norway (17), Oman (3), Panama (330), Papua New Guinea (1), Paraguay (48), Peru (185), Philippines (344), Poland (13), Portugal (6), Qatar (8), Republic of Korea (105), Romania (18), Russia (3), Samoa (1), Saudi Arabia (35), Singapore (142), Slovakia (3), Slovenia (1), South Africa (1), Spain (522), Sri Lanka (4), Suriname (11), Sweden (48), Switzerland (31), Thailand (589), Trinidad and Tobago (18), Turkey (20), Ukraine (1), United Arab Emirates (2), United Kingdom, Isle of Man (1), United Kingdom, Jersey (1), Uruguay (36), Venezuela (71), Vietnam (35), West Bank and Gaza Strip (8) and Yemen (5).
Below is a summary of the recent development of swine flu cases, as reported by the WHO:
- Infected countries:
- 22-Jun-09: 99;
- 19-Jun-09: 94;
- 17-Jun-09: 88;
- 15-Jun-09: 76;
- 12-Jun-09: 74;
- 10-Jun-09: 74;
- 08-Jun-09: 73;
- 05-Jun-09: 69;
- 03-Jun-09: 66;
- Official reported cases:
- 22-Jun-09: 52,160;
- 19-Jun-09: 44,287;
- 17-Jun-09: 39,620;
- 15-Jun-09: 35, 928;
- 12-Jun-09: 29,669;
- 10-June-09: 27,737;
- 08-Jun-09: 25,288;
- 05-Jun-09: 21,940;
- 03-Jun-09: 19,273.
- 22-Jun-09: 231;
- 19-Jub-09: 190;
- 17-Jun-09: 167;
- 15-Jun-09: 163;
- 12-Jun-09: 145;
- 10-Jun-09: 141;
- 08-Jun-09: 139;
- 05-Jun-09: 125;
- 03-Jun-09: 117.
Influenza A(H1N1) infection (swine flu): Number of infected countries
Influenza A(H1N1) infection (swine flu): Number of official reported cases
Influenza A(H1N1) infection (swine flu): Number of deaths
United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, stated (29-Apr-09) that the UN has taken the lead in fighting the swine influenza outbreak and coordinating the international response, and urged the UN Security Council to support efforts by the international community.
UN: "I sincerely hope that with global participation and support, we will be able to overcome, suppress and combat swine flu. In addition to the global financial crisis, climate change, the energy crisis, the food crisis - now on top of this we are experiencing this very serious pandemic," Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General. Source: DPA, 29-Apr-09.
International Monetary Fund's Chief Economist, Olivier Blanchard, stated the swine flu will not be a major issue for the world economy, although the outbreak could be "quite dramatic" for some individual countries, particularly in the tourism sector (Reuters/Bloomberg, 30-May-09). Mr Blanchard added that it was too early to predict the full impact on the global economy.
IMF: “It may have an effect on the volume of tourism. For some countries the effect may be quite drastic, for the airline industry the effect is visible. At this stage it’s a minor event. This is not going to be a major issue in economic terms,” Olivier Blanchard, Chief Economist. Source: Bloomberg, 30-Apr-09.
World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) stated it is “closely” monitoring the impact of the Swine Flu on the tourism sector. According to UNWTO, the major challenge at present is “to avoid travel restrictions based on inaccurate information and perception”. [more - UNWTO] Earlier, the UNWTO recommended (29-Apr-09) countries review their pandemic preparedness plans for travel and tourism. [more - UNWTO]
World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) stated (29-Apr-09) the industry is better able to react to the current pandemic than it was during SARS and the avian flu. [more - WTTC]
World Travel and Tourism Council: “The swine flu outbreak is compounding the ailments of the global economy just as there are signs it might be starting to stabilise, darkening the outlook for everything from tourism to world trade. While nobody knows what the implications of a potential pandemic would be, a study commissioned by WTTC after the outbreak of SARS from its research partner Oxford Economics suggests that the impact could be severe and prolonged…The situation is admittedly one causing serious concern, and the industry must act responsibly, but there is no need for panic,” Company Statement, 29-Apr-09.
International aviation agencies:
IATA stated the outbreak has not significantly affected international air travel (AP, 05-May-09). Director General & CEO, Giovanni Bisignani, stated, "we haven't seen any relevant impact which could compare with SARS. What we have seen in these two weeks is a noticeable slowdown in traffic to and from Mexico”. Earlier, IATA emphasised (03-May-09) that airlines are prepared for the heightened level of alert, having worked with the WHO to prepare guidance materials for front line staff at airlines. [more - IATA]
ACI: “While the swine influenza outbreak comes at a difficult time, we remain confident that the industry will pull through this crisis, as it has in the past. Indeed, as the Director General WHO has said, the world is better prepared for an influenza pandemic that at any time in history. ACI is in regular communication with WHO and other industry stakeholders and will continue to provide information and assistance to airports,” Craig Bradbrook, Director of Health, Security and Facilitation. Source: Company Statement, 30-Apr-09.
Air Transport Association of America (ATA) welcomed (04-May-09) statements by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Health and Human Services (HHS), World Health Organization (WHO) and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) that there is no rationale for travel restrictions. [more - ATA] Earlier, the ATA expressed (30-Apr-09) its “extreme disappointment” over US Vice President, Joe Biden's suggestion that people should avoid air travel in response to the outbreak. In an interview on NBC’s ‘Today’ Show, VP Biden stated he would not recommend taking any commercial flight "at this point", due to the ability of the virus to spread "in confined places." The statements were swiftly clarified by the White House. [more - ATA] [more – ATA Letter to Vice President Biden]
US Government: "I would tell members of my family - and I have - I wouldn't go anywhere in confined places now. It's not that it's going to Mexico. It's you're in a confined aircraft. When one person sneezes, it goes all the way through the aircraft. That's me…so, from my perspective, what it relates to is mitigation. If you're out in the middle of a field when someone sneezes, that's one thing. If you're in a closed aircraft or closed container or closed car or closed classroom, it's a different thing," Joe Biden, Vice President. Quote from NBC's "Today" show. Source: Reuters, 30-Apr-09.
ATA (to Joe Biden): “On behalf of the nation’s airlines, I am writing to express my extreme disappointment at your suggestion that people should avoid air travel in response to the H1N1 flu outbreak. You should be aware that the airlines have been working daily with the cadre of government agencies responding to the outbreak and that we are taking all appropriate actions to assure the health of our customers and our employees. While individuals who are feeling ill should remain home, no responsible officials or healthcare professionals have suggested that people avoid air travel. The fact is that the air onboard a commercial aircraft is cleaner than that in most public buildings. As I am certain you would agree, we need to deal responsibly with the flu threat but, at the same time, while following professional healthcare advice, keep our economy moving forward,” James May, President and CEO. Source: Company Statement, 30-Apr-09.
Association of Asia Pacific Airlines Director General, Andrew Herdman, stated (29-Apr-09) that various measures introduced by governments to combat the outbreak, including travel advisories and border controls, may “do more harm than good” and a “coordinated international response” is needed. Mr Herdman commented that the impact on travel patterns has so far been “minimal”. [more - AAPA]
Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA) commended (05-May-09) Ecuador in its decision to remove travel restrictions between Ecuador and Mexico. The Association and its member airlines are calling on authorities of Peru, Argentina and Cuba to do the same and stop their unilateral restrictions contrary to WHO and ICAO recommendations against restricting travel. [more]
Governments that have restricted travel to/from Mexico:
- Argentina (to be removed on 19-May-09);
- Cuba (removed on 01-Jun-09);
- Ecuador (removed on 07-May-09);
- Peru (removed on 13-May-09).
Austrian Health Ministry stated it has diagnosed one “likely” case of swine flu and four others have suspected cases (DPA, 28-Apr-09).
Australian Government implemented (30-Apr-09) full border measures to help delay the introduction of Human Swine Influenza into Australia. The new measures include the use of Thermal Scanners and a mandatory requirement for all incoming passengers to fill out Health Declaration Cards.
Argentine Government has decided to lift travel restrictions to/from Mexico, effective 19-May-09 (CODIGO AEREO, 14-May-09). Argentina had temporarily cancelled services between the two countries on 28-Apr-09.hermal cameras have been installed at Buenos Aires International Airport, as well as additional preventive measures.
Belize Tourism Board stated (01-May-09) Belize has closed the Belize Free Zone and casinos in the town of Corozal, which borders Mexico. To date, Belize hase not been advised of any confirmed influenza A (H1N1) cases in the country. [more - Belize Tourism Board]
Canada's Public Health Agency announced (06-May-09) that Canadian scientists have completed work on decoding the genetic makeup of the H1N1 flu virus. Genetic sequencing is the process of determining the order of the molecules that make up the DNA in each gene of an organism. This complete genetic blueprint provides important information for researchers studying the virus. [more – Public Health Agency of Canada]
China's Foreign Ministry stated China has suspended all services from Mexico, after the Hong Kong Government confirmed a Mexican passenger who transited through Shanghai on 30-Apr-09 had the A-H1N1 virus (Shanghai Daily, 03-May-09).
Colombian Government stated health authorities have identified 22 suspected cases of swine flu in the country, with a further 21 cases under observation (MarketWatch, 30-Apr-09)
Costa Rican Health Ministry confirmed it has diagnosed the first case of swine flu in the country (DPA, 28-Apr-09).
Cuban Government suspended all airline operations to/from Mexico for a 48-hour period from 27-Apr-09 (DPA, 28-Apr-09). No cases have been reported in the country. The government stated it has tightened its epidemiological controls at its borders, ports, docks, and airports (Cuba News Agency, 30-Apr-09)
Ecuador’s Civil Aviation Administration lifted its entry restrictions for passengers arriving from Mexico on 07-May-09. Copa Airlines informs its passengers with confirmed reservations from Mexico City, Guadalajara and Cancun that they may proceed to the airport to board their respective flights to Guayaquil and Quito .
Egyptian Disease Control unit has toughened its inspection procedures at Cairo International Airport, particularly on passengers arriving from countries that have reported cases of the virus (KUNA, 02-May-09). Earlier, the Egyptian Government announced it has decided to slaughter the country’s entire pig livestock of approximately 250,000 animals as a “precautionary measure” (DPA, 29-Apr-09). Egyptian Health Minster, Hatem al-Gabali, stated Egyptian authorities would close the airports and crossings if the WHO declared its pandemic alert level to Phase 6 (Xinhua, 30-Apr-09).
Indian Government issued a travel advisory to restrict or defer non-essential visits to Mexico, US, UK, Spain, France, Canada and New Zealand. It also announced increased surveillance of international passengers arriving at Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Goa, Kochi, Kolkata and Jaipur airports (Hindu Business Line, 28-Apr-09). An additional form to determine whether passengers have been in an affected area in the recent past will be distributed.
Indonesian Health Ministry announced it has completed the installation of thermal scanners at airports and will provide health alert cards for passengers from countries known to be affected by swine influenza (AFP, 04-May-09).
Iran stated it has established quarantine centres in its international airports (Mehr News Agency, 04-May-09).
Israel imposed strict controls at airports and border crossings to monitor travellers returning from Mexico and raised its alert level to five (Phase 6 being the highest level) (Associated Press, 03-May-09).
Japan Foreign Ministry announced plans to provide Mexico with 25 thermographic inspection cameras to help improve quarantine checks at airports and other public places (Kyodo News, 07-May-09). Japan's Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry invoked the Infectious Diseases Law and established a Prime Ministerial level task force to coordinate the country’s response (Yomiuri Shimbun, 29-Apr-09). Quarantine regulations will be tightened with immediate effect. Japanese Defence Ministry announced plans to send 30 doctors and nurses to assist with medical checks and quarantine at Tokyo Narita International Airport (Kyodo, 28-Apr-09).
Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) stated it is putting “full effort” to prepare for the arrival of visitors to Macau during May 1 Labor Day Holiday. Local mobile telecommunications service providers has sent out SMS alert to Macau residents (with roaming service) travelling to countries/regions affected by swine flu since 26-Apr-09 and visitors entering Macau since 28-Apr-09. [more - MGTO]
Malaysia’s Health Ministry announced it has installed two more thermal scanners at Kuala Lumpur (at the main terminal and the LCCT) to enhance checks at entry points (Bernama, 09-May-09).
Mexican President, Felipe Calderon, stated that the country has managed to contain the epidemic and is in a “position to overcome” the outbreak, with the rate of spread in decline in the country (AFP, 04-May-09). Earlier, President Calderon advised government offices and private businesses not crucial to the economy to stop work from 01-May-09 to avoid the further spread of the virus (Reuters, 30-May-09). Mexican Ministry of Health has put into operation an emergency plan and increased epidemiological surveillance in order to arrest the spread of the illness. This plan included the establishment of checkpoints in airports to provide information, as well as to provide assistance to any persons who show signs of illness.
Myanmar Ministry of Health announced it is tightening biosecurity inspections at airports and other access points to the country (Xinhua, 29-Apr-09).
Nigerian Government ordered that all aircraft and ships entering the country are checked and cleaned, with medical inspections to be carried out on passengers arriving from infected areas (Allafrica.com, 29-Apr-09).
New Zealand Ministry of Health stated it is “in the containment phase” of the outbreak. The numbers of confirmed cases in New Zealand remained at six on 05-May-09, though at least four of them have recovered. There are 15 probable cases, up from 11 on 04-May-09. There were 92 suspected cases on 05-May-09, up 23 from 04-May-09, and 335 people are in isolation or quarantine, down 26 since 04-May-09.
Peruvian Government has decided to lift travel restrictions to/from Mexico (EFE, 13-May-09). Peru had temporarily cancelled services between the two countries on 29-Apr-09.
Saudi Arabian Health Ministry announced it is screenings passengers from affected countries at the country’s four international airports, focusing on passengers arriving from the Americas (Arab News, 03-May-09). Earlier, the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) stated the necessary screening measures are being taken at all entry points into the country (Saudi Gazette, 04-May-09).
Singapore Government announced plans to quarantine travellers from Mexico, effective 04-May-09 (Bloomberg, 03-May-09). No cases have been confirmed in Singapore. Earlier, the Monetary Authority of Singapore stated that the recovery of the domestic economy “hinges on external developments including the recent outbreak of swine influenza, which has added a new dimension to the risk outlook” (AFP, 29-Apr-09).
Spanish Government announced all flights arriving with suspected cases of swine influenza will be quarantined (Typically Spanish, 04-May-09).
US Customs and Border Protection stated all US ports of entry are open and operating as normal, with officers using risk-based border screening (USA Today, 04-May-09).
UK Department of Health confirmed (04-May-09) nine new cases have been confirmed in the UK, bringing the total to 27. The Department will start issuing a leaflet to households from 05-May-09. [more – UK Department of Health]
UK Government: “The first non imported cases of swine flu have been confirmed in England and Scotland. The infection appears to have been acquired by person to person spread within the United Kingdom. Until now, cases were confined to people who had themselves recently come back from Mexico. As the WHO has already said, it considers a pandemic to be imminent. We must all continue to be vigilant and try to reduce the spread of the virus. People have their part to play in controlling the spread of influenza….The UK has been preparing for the possibility of a pandemic for a number of years and is among the most prepared countries in the world,” Sir Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Advisor. Source: Company Statement, 02-May-09.
UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised (30-Apr-09) against all but essential travel to Mexico. [more - FCO]
US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reports (04-May-09) 279 cases and 1 death in the US. [more – US CDC]
US President, Barak Obama, requested USD1.5 billion in funding to combat the outbreak (DPA, 28-Apr-09). Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, stated that passive surveillance would continue and additional steps are not yet necessary. Meanwhile, California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, declared a state of emergency to coordinate inter-agency response to swine flu.
Carriers that have introduced temporary ticket change fee waivers:
- Air France-KLM Group;
- Air Canada, effective until 01-Jun-09;
- American Airlines, effective until 16-May-09;
- Avianca effective until 08-May-09;
- British Airways;
- Continental Airlines, effective until 06-May-09;
- Delta Air Lines: Effective until 06-May-09;
- Frontier Airlines, effective until 16-May-09;
- Grupo Mexicana;
- Singapore Airlines, effective until 27-May-09. Customers may change the routing of their journey, defer the date of travel until 31-Oct-09 or cancel, without penalty;
- Sun Country: Effective until 15-Jun-09;
- US Airways, effective until 08-May-09;
- WestJet, effective until 04-May-09.
Several North American airlines have implemented some moderate capacity reductions on services to Mexico:
- Air Canada announced (29-Apr-09) plans to suspend services from Canada to Cancun, Cozumel and Puerto Vallarta until 01-Jun-09, but will continue services to Mexico City. Flights will continue to operate as scheduled until 04-May-09 to bring home all passengers presently in Cancun, Cozumel and Puerto Vallarta. Air Canada Vacations (ACV) customers can rebook with no charge to any ACV destination. [more – Air Canada]
- AirTran: Plans to reduce capacity to Cancun from 16 to 14 weekly frequencies, citing demand over recent weeks as well as the swine flu outbreak (Wall Street Journal, 04-May-09);
- Air Transat announced it would extend its suspension of services to Mexico from 01-Jun-09 to 19-Jun-09 (AFP, 08-May-09).
- Alaska Airways stated it would remove blankets and pillows from all its aircraft, for health reasons (Reuters, 03-May-09).
- American Airlines: Confirmed (05-May-09) it and its American Eagle unit is reducing the number of weekly frequencies to Mexico from 42 to 31 from 08-May-09 to 10-Jun-09. The company will continue to operate to all 14 Mexico destinations, but at reduced frequency. American would continue to evaluate its services to Mexico this Summer.
- Continental Airlines: The largest foreign carrier to Mexico announced a 50% reduction in capacity (ASMs) and a 40% reduction in flight frequencies to Mexican destinations, affecting 2% of total capacity for May-2009 (Reuters, 03-May-09). Service to all 29 Mexican destinations will continue. CEO, Larry Kellner, stated, “we were already experiencing soft market conditions due to the economy, and now our Mexico routes in particular have extra weakness";
- Delta Air Lines: Plans to make some adjustment to its services to Mexico, although confirmed that it is still offering services to all of its 11 destinations in Mexico (Bloomberg, 01-May-09/Reuters, 02-May-09). The carrier plans to reduce flight frequency on some services, and use smaller aircraft on certain routes to reduce capacity. Delta has postponed the launch of Los Angeles-Sao Paulo service from 21-May-09 to 30-Jun-09 (Aviacion News, 30-Apr-09). Earlier, Delta and American Airlines were reportedly offering round-trip fares to Mexican destinations from USD260, a 45% discount on fares available before the outbreak (Bloomberg, 29-Apr-09);
- JetBlue Airways: Reportedly cancelled approximately 12 services to Cancun over May-09, citing insufficient demand (Wall Street Journal, 04-May-09);
- United Airlines: 60% reduction in flight frequencies to Mexico, including 11 route suspensions (a reduction in weekly departures to Mexico from 61 to 24 in May-2009, and from 90 to 52 in Jun-2009, effective 05-May-09). Maintaining reduced services from Washington DC to Mexico City and from San Francisco to Mexico City and Puerto Vallarta. No change to daily Chicago-Cancun and Los Angeles-Los Cabos services. Weekly departures to Mexico cut from 61 to 24 in May-2009, and from 90 to 52 in Jun-2009, effective 05-May-09;
- US Airways: Reduced weekly departures by 38% on scheduled services to 12 cities in Mexico, between 10-May-09 and 01-Jul-09, with capacity reductions through the use of smaller aircraft on some routes (Reuters, 02-May-09). Previously, the carrier reported a “heavy” volume of calls from travellers regarding services to Mexico, with the carrier seeing an “uptick in Caribbean travel” (Bloomberg, 30-Apr-09);
- WestJet stated that bookings are starting to pick up again to Mexico (Canadian Press, 05-May-09). Delayed bookings are expected to affect RASM, but the carrier stated it was difficult to assess the likely severity of the reduction. WestJet suspended services to the Mexican destinations of Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta, effective 04-May-09. Services to Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta will resume on 20-Jun-09, while service to Cancun, a seasonal destination for WestJet, will return in the Autumn schedule. CEO, Sean Durfy stated, "the recent H1N1 influenza virus outbreak is hitting the psyche of the travelling public hard. However, in the past few days, we've actually seen booking velocities come back to normal levels that we've been experiencing in the past couple of months, which is a good sign”.
Aeromexico conducted a charter service to Beijing/Shanghai/Guangzhou/Hong Kong to repatriate Mexican nationals quarantined by Chinese authorities. None of the approximately 70 persons had shown symptoms of the H1N1 virus (Reuters, 05-May-09). A Chinese chartered flight had earlier repatriated 99 Chinese nationals in Mexico City and Tijuana (Xinhua, 05-May-09). China has suspended direct scheduled flights to Mexico.
AeroMexico adopted (27-Apr-09) a series of precautions and preventative measures for staff and in its procedures in reaction to the outbreak. The carrier will not permit passengers with influenza-like symptoms to board aircraft. All operations remain as normal. [more- AeroMexico] AeroMexico added (27-Apr-09) that passengers that were due to travel to and from Mexico with the carrier will be able to change the date of their flights with no penalty until 15-May-09. [More]
AirAsia stated its operations will be unaffected by the swine flu outbreak and its expansion plans will remain unchanged (Star Online, 28-Apr-09.).
AirAsia: “These things happen, we’ve been through them, I think globally, everyone is prepared for pandemics like these. We will still grow, expansion plans are still on track. If anything, we may see a shift towards short-haul travel in this region,” Tony Fernandes, CEO. Source: Star Online, 28-Apr-09.
Air Europa announced plans to reduce frequency of Mexico charter services from five times weekly to weekly, due to a reduction in demand (Reuters, 30-Apr-09)
Air Malta stated it has established a task force to monitor the spread of swine flu and review the airline’s plans (Times of Malta, 30-Apr-09)
Air Malta: “Air Malta, as it did in the case of the Sars outbreak, has set up a task force to monitor the situation and review the airline's plans in these circumstances. The situation is evolving quickly and as yet it is too early to predict the effects that Swine influenza will have on the industry,” Joe Cappello, CEO. Source: Times of Malta, 30-Apr-09.
Malta Government: “The news over the past few days of the outbreak of swine flu in Mexico and a number of other countries is of concern for the global travel industry as it may affect travelling patterns of people and their desire to travel. The Maltese health authorities are however closely monitoring the situation; and have assured the public that the situation in Malta is very much under control and have urged everyone to continue with their activities in a normal manner,” Mario de Marco, Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism. Source: Times of Malta, 30-Apr-09.
Air New Zealand CEO, Rob Fyfe, stated the outbreak had harmed the country's reputation to foreign tourists, as New Zealand had received a disproportionate amount of news coverage as it was among the first countries to confirm cases of the disease (DPA, 03-May-09). Meanwhile, New Zealand Ministry of Health stated there have been no signs of swine flu spreading within New Zealand (Radio New Zealand, 04-May-09).
Cathay Pacific stated (13-May-09) was notified by Hong Kong health authorities that a passenger on CX879 who arrived at Hong Kong International Airport at 7pm HK time on Monday (11 May) from San Francisco has since tested positive for Influenza A (H1N1). The passenger was seated in the Economy Class section in 62H and was said to have been wearing a mask throughout the flight. The Hong Kong health authorities are contacting all operating crew who were serving on flight CX879 for investigation to determine if medical follow up is necessary. [more] Earlier, the carrier also stated that there have not been any “unusual movements” in either bookings or traffic in response to swine influenza (04-May-09). [more – Cathay Pacific]
easyJet founder and shareholder, Stelios Haji-Ioannou , stated easyJet has seen no effect on its business (Associated Press, 03-May-09). Sir Stelios stated the problem with highly published events is not the number of infections but whether people stop flying. He stated that decision is "about fear, it's not about fact."
Emirates confirmed there are no changes to its scheduled services (The Nation, 30-Apr-09).
Iberworld announced plans to eliminate charter services to Mexico in May-2009 (Reuters, 30-Apr-09)
Iberia announced it has reduced capacity to Mexico by 40% due to a sharp fall in demand (aviaciondigitalglobal.com, 13-May-09). In Apr-2009, Iberia was offering 12 weekly frequencies on the Madrid-Mexico City route, but now it is only offering seven weekly frequencies. The reduction in frequencies would initially be for the month of May.
Japan Airlines offered to provide free transport of relief goods and aid personnel bound for Mexico City at the request of any non-profit public organisations based in Japan, effective 30-Apr-09 [more - Japan Airlines]
Japanese tour operators JTB Corp, Hankyu Travel International and HIS Co cancelled tours to Mexico (Kyodo News, 28-Apr-09). JTB’s cancellations come into effect immediately until the end of Jun-2009, while Hankyu has cancelled all tours until the end of May-2009. HIS stated it will reinstated tours when the WHO alert level returns to Phase 3.
Lufthansa stated it has witnessed a significant rise in the number of cancellations on flights to Mexico, while its flights from the country are “completely full” and there is a “sizeable amount of travelers trying to leave Mexico” (Washington Post, 28-Apr-09). Lufthansa added it has prepared plans in close coordination with health authorities to deal with any worsening of the outbreak, but has not yet implemented definite measures (Reuters, 29-Apr-09).
Lufthansa CFO, Stephan Gemkow, stated he expects the impact of swine flu on Lufthansa to be less severe than SARS (Reuters, 30-Apr-09). Lufthansa, however, announced contingency plans to reduce capacity and eliminate services to affected areas. The carriers also announced plans to place doctors on its services to Mexico to detect an infection early and treat affected passengers.
Lufthansa: "In the best case, the reduction would be zero, but we currently do not see that best case," Stephan Gemkow, CFO. Source: Reuters, 30-Apr-09.
Malaysia Airlines issued standard operating procedures, similar to those enacted during SARS, to its staff and crew on the handling of passengers in the wake of the swine flu outbreak (The Star, 30-Apr-09).
Monarch announced (12-May-09) it has cancelled all flights departing the UK for Cancun until 26-May-09, following on from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office advice against non essential travel to Mexico. [more]
Ryanair CEO, Michael O’Leary, opposed calls to ban services to Mexico, saying the disease was "a load of nonsense" being used to distract from the economic crisis (eubusiness.com, 30-Apr-09).
Ryanair: "The whole swine flu thing is a complete overblown load of nonsense generally beloved by politicians to distract people from an economic recession…It gives politicians an excuse to be discussing something else instead of badly run economies and the economic crisis…Far more people today in Europe will die from road accidents than will die of swine flu, yet I don't see French or European authorities taking measures to ban people from roads in Europe," Michael O’Leayr, CEO. Source: eubusiness.com, 30-Apr-09.
Ryanair: “Are we going to die from swine flu? No. Are we in danger of SARS? No. Foot and mouth disease? No. Will it affect people flying short-haul flights around Europe this Summer? Thankfully, no," Michael O’Leary, CEO. Source: Times Online, 28-Apr-09.
Pakistan International Airlines stated that airline and airport employees are coordinating their actions with regard to flights operating to infected areas (Daily News, 29-Apr-09).
Qantas stated it has not adjusted operations (AAP, 27-Apr-09). Meanwhile, Merrill Lynch stated that the downturn in Qantas’ share price due to swine flu is likely to be short term and the weakness represents a “buying opportunity” (Bloomberg, 28-Apr-09). The company expects little impact to Qantas’ earnings due to the outbreak.
Royal Jordanian stated (05-May-09) stated it is in compliance with international instructions issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO), IATA and ICAO to protect passengers and crew members from swine flu. The company does not operate services between Amman and Mexico or any South American country. [more – Royal Jordanian]
Singapore Airlines announced (01-May-09) plans to increase its vigilance against the flu, providing health kits for customers on services to the US, additional aircraft cleaning and mandatory temperature checks for cabin and flight crew.
TACA announced that passengers that were due to travel to/from Mexico with the carrier will be able to change the date of their flights with no penalty until 03-May-09 (EFE, 28-Apr-09).
Thai Airways announced (04-May-09) it has implemented measures to prevent the spread of swine flu among passengers and customers, including establishing an operations centre to issues preventative measures, additional cleaning of aircraft and disinfecting of common touch points. [more – Thai Airways] Earlier, Thai stated it was considering reducing capacity on some routes, following cancellations of travel from passengers in the US, Korea, Japan and China (Bangkok Post, 01-May-09).
Thomson and First Choice are considering extending the suspension of services to Cancun and Cozumel beyond 08-May-09 (Travel Mole, 05-May-09).
TUI AG and Thomas Cook Group cancelled all tour services from the UK to Cancun (Bloomberg, 28-Apr-09). TUI’s Thompson and First Choice have ended all operations to Mexico until 08-May-09, while Thomas Cook cancelled all flights for the next seven days. Thomas Cook’s Condor unit stated it has no plans to cancel its three times weekly Frankfurt-Cancun service (Bloomberg, 28-Apr-09).
Mexican airport operators are reporting declines in flight operations at their airports in the order of 5-20% or higher:
- Mexican airport operator, ASA, stated that airlines canceled 120 flights at its airports between 23-Apr-09 to 04-May-09 – or 15-20% of services (Dow Jones, 05-May-09);
- Mexico City Airport reported 53 flight cancellations on 05-May-09, of a daily average of around 900 flights (Dow Jones, 05-May-09);
- ASUR, operator of Cancun Airport and eight others in the southeast of Mexico, stated (29-Apr-09) it cannot determine the impact the outbreak will have on the company’s operations and its financial results, nor can it predict the amount of time it will take to return back to normal conditions [more - ASUR];
- Mexico's Grupo Aeroportuario del Centro Norte (OMA) stated (29-Apr-09) its operations continue normally, although it has seen a reduction in passenger traffic from passengers choosing to cancel or delay scheduled travel. [more - OMA] It stated, "at the present time OMA cannot estimate the impact that this public health crisis will have on passenger traffic volumes, the number of flight operations; or on the financial condition of the company. Much will depend on how long this situation continues and its impact on domestic and global economic activity".
- Mexican airport operators have invested USD500,000 to purchase portable thermal imagers (infrared cameras) from Fluke Corporation, a subsidiary of Danaher Corporation to help them screen passengers for swine flu. [more]
Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) announced (28-Apr-09) full readiness to implement an emergency action plan, on advice from Abu Dhabi Department of Health, to counter the recent outbreak of swine flu. [more - ADAC]
Airports Authority of India has been directed to issue instructions on the establishment of facilities for screening of international passengers/crew arriving from affected country. Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation directed (29-Apr-09) the 17 international airports across India to facilitate enhanced surveillance and screening of passengers arriving from affected nations.
Airports Company of South Africa announced plans to install thermal image detection systems, although has not confirmed when the technology will be implemented (SAPA, 29-Apr-09).
Argentina has temporarily suspended international services at Mendoza International Airport (mdzol.com, 30-Apr-09). International services that were bound for Mendoza will be shifted to Cordoba and Buenos Aires Ezieza international airports, where appropriate controls will be carried out.
Brisbane Airport confirmed (05-May-09) processes are in place to test for Swine Flu on arrival at the international terminal.
China's Beijing Capital International Airport initiated full-scale infrared checking for all international passengers on 27-Apr-09. The Shanghai Quarantine Bureau has implemented medical checks for all incoming passengers from Mexico and random checks for passengers from US destinations. CAAC issued (29-Apr-09) an emergency notice requiring airports, airlines and related organisations to implement prevention procedures. Airlines and airports are required to organise training for staff crewing flights to affected countries and regions and are instructed to screen passengers from those destinations.
DFW International Airport stated (08-May-09) it continues to monitor situation and is working with Federal, State and Local government agencies, airlines and other Airport stakeholders. [more]
Fraport CEO, Wilhelm Bender, stated that :nervousness among passengers is marginal," and the downturn in overall demand continued to ease in Apr-2009 (Trend, 05-May-09).
Hong Kong's Airport Authority raised the flu alert level from “serious” to “emergency”, the highest alert level (chinaview.cn, 02-May-09). Earlier, the Authority implemented precautionary measures at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) to guard against the potential outbreak. [more - Hong Kong Airport Authority]
India's Nagpur and Bajpe airports confirmed they have commenced screening of all international passengers (Times of India, 04-May-09). Meanwhile, Pune Airport announced its intention of screen all international passenger arriving from Dubai and Frankfurt from 04-May-09 (Times of India, 05-May-09).
Israel Health Ministry opened a health clinic at Ben-Gurion International Airport to test travellers returning from Mexico (Haaretz, 30-Apr-09).
Japan's Akita, Niigata and Hiroshima Airports announced plans to conduct thermal camera inspections of passengers to help prevent a potential flu outbreak in Japan (The Yomiuri Shimbun, 08-May-09). Japan's Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry is also conducting onboard quarantine inspections of services arriving from Mexico, the US mainland and Canada at Narita, Kansai and Chubu Airports.
Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport installed two screening machines and will have three nurses at the airport, as measures to deal with a potential outbreak in the country (Sapa, 07-May-09).
Kuwait's King Khaled International Airport stated incoming services from countries affected by the swine fuel have been halted (Saudi Gazette, 30-Apr-09).
Nepalese Government announced plans to deploy health officials at Tribhuvan International Airport, the only international airport in the country, to screen passengers inbound from Mexico and the US (Asiantribune.com, 28-Apr-09).
Paris Orly Airport baggage handlers refused to unload aircraft arriving from Mexico and Spain, causing significant delays (AFP, 03-May-09).
Romania's Sofia International Airport stated it has installed two thermal cameras to monitor passengers for signs of swine influenza (EPA, 27-Apr-09).
Sharjah International Airport announced plans to install thermal scanners on 04-May-09 (Gulf News, 03-May-09).
Thailand's Hat Yai International Airport installed thermo scan systems and temperature measurement devices to detect all outgoing and incoming passengers (NNT, 03-May-09).
Turkey's Istanbul Ataturk International Airport installed a thermal camera to screen arriving passengers (Xinhua, 29-Apr-09). The airport is planning to install additional units, if required, in the coming days (Today’s Zaman, 30-Apr-09).
American Society of Travel Agents Chairman, Chris Russo, stated that the industry is taking a “wait-and-see approach” to the outbreak of swine flu (CNN.com, 28-Apr-09).
APEC Transportation Ministerial Meeting issued (29-Apr-09) a joint statement from Asian Transport Ministers. Part of the statement called on officials to work closely with the transportation industry and with their colleagues in the public health agencies to enhance preparedness for and contain the spread of a possible pandemic. No travel advisories have been issued. [more - APEC]
Association of Flight Attendants-CWA requested the US Federal Aviation Administration require US carriers to develop and implement passenger-screening standards, as well as provide flight attendants with non-latex gloves and masks and grant special sick leave provisions.
AFA-CWA: “We believe that the FAA administrator has the authority to issue such an order ... in light of the serious threat that this outbreak poses to flight attendants and passengers on flights into and out of affected areas," AFA-CWA statement, 28-Apr-09.
Air Transport Association of America (ATA), representing US carriers, stated (28-Apr-09) it would continue close coordination with government agencies and US airlines. [more – Air Transport Association] ATA added on 29-Apr-09 that there has been "no discernible change" in bookings to Mexico (Reuters, 29-Apr-09).
Australia's Transport Workers Union (TWU) lodged (01-May-09) papers in the Industrial Relations Commission in an effort to have Qantas “fulfill its legal responsibilities to front-line workers in the wake of the growing global swine flu threat”.
International Labour Organisation stated the outbreak will have a “grave impact” on Latin America and could prompt it to review its jobless estimates in the region, with airlines and tourism expected to be worst affected (Reuters, 04-May-09).
International Transport Workers Federation advised airline personnel flying into Mexico to follow WHO and national government advice. The ITF announced that the Mexican Pilots’ Union (ASPA) and the Mexican Cabin Crew Union (ASSA) have set up phone lines for inquiries. The ASSA received agreement from Mexicana, Aeromexico and Mexican regional airlines that flight personnel can use face-masks and gloves during meal and drinks services and during any part of the flight that could represent a risk. [more - ITF]
Sabre Holdings stated that, aside from a reduction in travel volumes to Mexico, business and leisure travel within the US and to other parts of the world is "holding steady” (Travelmole, 06-May-09).
Service Employees International Union and United Service Workers members held (29-Apr-09) a rally at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), expressing concern over the lack of health care despite the risk of exposure to the swine flu [more – US Unions]
Standards and Poor’s commented that airlines are at risk of suffering potential disruption to traffic, due to government travel restrictions and negative public sentiment to travel (Reuters, 29-Apr-09).
Standard & Poor’s: “Though swine flu has not yet caused health problems on a similar scale, we believe airlines are at risk of suffering reduced traffic because of government-imposed quarantines and travellers’ fears,” Philip Baggaley, Debt Analyst. Source: Bloomberg, 28-Apr-09.