MIAMI – U.S. President Donald Trump has this week instigated a thirty-day ban travel ban for Europe with the exception of the United Kingdom and Ireland.
The ban comes after more than 1,000 cases being confirmed in the U.S alone. The President said action had to be taken on the virus, which has now been labeled as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
POTUS declared in his presidential address on the COVID-19 epidemic, “to keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days.”
The European Union President Ursula von der Leyen criticized the Trump Administration over its actions being taken unilaterally and without consultation, declaring that the coronavirus “is a global crisis, not limited to any continent, and requires cooperation rather than unilateral action.”
The text of the ban states that “this proclamation shall remain in effect until terminated by the President”.
It also states that the ban will take effect on Friday at 11:59 pm Eastern Time. However, flights that are headed to the U.S that are in the air during the restrictions will be allowed to land.
Schengen countries affected by this ban
Out of the 26 Schengen countries, the most affected include Germany, France, and the Netherlands. The U.K., which is exempt from the ban, is the single largest European market from the U.S., accounting for 31% of flights – 137 a day carrying 31,000 passengers in April 2019.
This is almost as big as the next three largest countries combined: Germany (13%), France (11%), and the Netherlands (9%) for a total of 33% or 143 flights a day carrying 35,000 passengers.
For the Transatlantic market, this is a considerable issue, as most of those flights land into Schengen-zone airports. The U. K. and Ireland are not part of the Schengen Area, which also excludes five European Union members – Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania.
In 2018, around 1,737 transatlantic flights were entering or leaving the Eurocontrol airspace per day. Around the same flights, if not more are still operating per day in that huge number.
This will affect major airlines such as Norwegian, Air France-KLM, Lufthansa, Iberia and more that will continue to feel the pinch of the coronavirus.
Lufthansa released a statement on Twitter stating that it would be currently “assessing the impact”, emphasizing that the “safety and well-being of our customers and crews is our highest priority”.
For the likes of British Airways, Aer Lingus, Virgin and TUI, these carriers will not feel as much of the hit as the Schengen-based European ones.
That being said, Virgin Atlantic has already admitted to flying near-empty aircraft due to bookings declining and passengers not showing up for flights.
Either way, whether the UK and Ireland were exempt from the ban or not, those airlines are still going to feel the pinch financially.
The next 30 days will prove to be important as Trump could extend this ban if the situation does not improve.
Approved U.S. airports to receive flights from Europe
POTUS’ 30-day ban specifies that after midnight Friday, U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the U.S. from Europe must do so through an approved U.S. airport.
There are 11 approved U.S. airports where this could happen: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit, Dulles, Los Angeles, Newark, Kennedy, San Francisco, Seattle, and Honolulu.
As reported in Forbes, the U.S. airports excluded from the approved airport list include Charlotte, Philadelphia, and Miami, three major hubs for American Airlines (AA).
Lori Bassani, national president of APFA, noted that the union, which represents 28,000 flight attendants at American Airlines (AA), “has been in close communication with AA’s management throughout this crisis.”
“What we know now is that our schedule will remain intact today and flights to and from the Schengen Area countries will operate through Friday, March 13,” she said.
“While our planes are not restricted from flying these routes, we can expect a reduction in customer bookings and an increase in cancellations–further impacting our flying schedules and adding to the uncertainty surrounding this situation,” Bassani added.
“APFA’s leadership is working tirelessly to understand the full impact this ban will have on our flying schedules and our airlines’ plans moving forward. We are simultaneously working on options for extended leaves for our members, pay protections, and ways to minimize the impact on our jobs.”
According to Will Horton, a senior contributor at Forbes, the ban directly impacts 266 daily flights from Europe to the U.S. Indirect impacts will affect 173 other daily flights to the U.S. from European countries not covered by the ban, mainly the U.K. as well as Ireland, which had 5-6% of flights and passengers.
With the industry already in a volatile situation because of the outbreak, more damage will be exerted on the transatlantic market and the carriers that operate them.