Tag: Spur

United Plans Newark-London Virus Testing as Tool to Spur Travel

(Bloomberg) — United Airlines Holdings Inc. will offer rapid coronavirus testing on flights to London from Newark, New Jersey, in a bid to show governments that a pre-departure testing regime can provide a way to ease strict quarantine rules.



a large passenger jet sitting on top of a runway: The Manhattan skyline stands past a United Airlines Holdings Inc. airplane on the tarmac at Newark International Airport (EWR) in Newark, New Jersey, U.S., on Tuesday, June 9, 2020. Airline losses are surging to unprecedented levels expected to be more than three times those following the 2008 global economic slump, according to the industry's main trade group.


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The Manhattan skyline stands past a United Airlines Holdings Inc. airplane on the tarmac at Newark International Airport (EWR) in Newark, New Jersey, U.S., on Tuesday, June 9, 2020. Airline losses are surging to unprecedented levels expected to be more than three times those following the 2008 global economic slump, according to the industry’s main trade group.

The pilot program, running from Nov. 16 to Dec. 11, also is aimed at giving customers on the trans-Atlantic route “an added layer of peace of mind,” United spokesman Josh Earnest said.

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U.S. and British airlines have been seeking government approvals for an “air bridge” between the New York City area and London’s Heathrow Airport that would relax isolation rules and spur international business travel. Corporate tickets and overseas routes are traditionally among the most profitable and have been especially hard hit during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We’re not second-guessing the decisions that government officials are making,” Earnest said on a call with reporters. “This is not sketching out on the back of a cocktail napkin what this would look like. This is actually showing them.”

United will offer the Abbott Laboratories ID Now rapid molecular tests free for passengers booked on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday flight. The program is for one United flight and will be conducted in a terminal lounge at Newark-Liberty International Airport, outside New York. Results from the test, the same one United uses for international crews, will be available within 20 minutes.

Passengers who test positive won’t be allowed to board, and a negative result won’t exempt the traveler from the U.K.’s 14-day quarantine. Customers who don’t want to participate will be rebooked on another flight.

United is betting that a free, fast coronavirus test could stimulate travel or lure customers from another airline. The 318-seat Boeing Co. 787-10 that’s used on the United flight has been operating with 50-100 passengers, Earnest said.

The Chicago-based carrier began offering $250 virus tests this month in San Francisco for flights to Hawaii after the state allowed travelers with negative results to skip a two-week quarantine on arrival. Hawaii expanded that program on Tuesday to visitors from Japan.

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Thailand Seeks Travel Bubble Pact With China to Spur Tourism

(Bloomberg) — Thailand is in talks with China to establish a quarantine-free travel corridor by January to rescue its ailing tourism industry.

The agreement with Beijing will be subject to the success of a limited reopening of the Thai tourism industry to foreign travelers this month, according to Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn. China, which accounted for more than a quarter of Thailand’s tourist arrivals before the pandemic, will be the first low-risk country the Southeast Asian nation will sign up for quarantine-free travel, he said.

The current mandatory quarantine will be replaced by coronavirus testing and a mobile tracking application for the Chinese visitors if the return of foreign tourists does not lead to fresh Covid-19 outbreaks, Phiphat said. About 11 million Chinese holidaymakers visited Thailand in 2019, netting the country about $17 billion, official data show.



chart, pie chart: Big Spenders


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Big Spenders

Thailand has struggled in its efforts to reopen its borders to tourists due to opposition from a section of the local industry and concern among the public that the government is ill-prepared to deal with a second wave of infections. But a pact with China may open the door for similar travel agreements with countries such as Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan, Phiphat said.

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“It can be a very happy new year as Thailand’s travel high season is the perfect time to allow people into the country,” Phiphat said in an interview in Bangkok on Thursday. “Most Chinese visitors come to Thailand for a week, so being quarantined would not be worth the trip for many.”

READ: Hong Kong-Singapore Travel Bubble to Reopen Financial Hub Links

The minister expects tourist arrivals to total between 5 million to 10 million next year, compared with an estimated 7 million this year. While Thailand has weathered the virus outbreak better than most other Southeast Asian nations, the pandemic has devastated its tourism industry, which netted more than $60 billion in revenue from about 40 million visitors in 2019.

First Batch

“China has about 800 million people in 22 provinces that have been free from infections,” Phiphat said. “If we can attract even just 1% of those people to travel here, that would already be plenty.”

The first group of visitors from China under a previously announced long-term tourist visa program will arrive in Bangkok on Oct. 20, the minister said. The government expects to issue about 1,200 visas a month under the program to help the industry that’s reeling from no foreign tourists arrivals for five months in a row.

“Thais don’t have enough money to boost the industry, so either way we have to find a way to bring in foreign tourists,” Phiphat said. “If we don’t receive any foreign tourists, our economy will suffer a heavy contraction.”

Thailand is also grappling with mounting anti-government protests, prompting authorities to impose a state of emergency in Bangkok on Thursday. The protesters are now planning more rallies in the capital and outside in the coming days, scaring away potential foreign

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