United Airlines' new brand logo and social media message, United Together, aims to emphasize solidarity with employees and customers during the coronavirus crises. "True to our United name, we're in this together," the airline said on Twitter.
Air Canada has begun cargo-only flights, carrying medical supplies and other time-sensitive freight to Europe. The airline has future plans for cargo-only flights to Latin America and South America, and it is considering offering the service domestically.
Airlines are changing how they serve passengers in an effort to reduce travelers' contact with flight attendants and other fliers. Passengers are now being seated farther apart, lounges are closed and food and beverage services have been cut or altered.
Travel advisors are taking the time to reach out to clients in the face of travel plans interrupted by the coronavirus outbreak, with ideas such as "I'm sorry your vacation is postponed" condolence cards that include a positive, forward-thinking message. Others have been surprised at the support from clients, such as the advisor whose local bank president stopped by and offered to buy travel vouchers for the future.
The coronavirus outbreak and concerns about ventilator supply in often-remote cities have led many state and national parks to close, but many people who are on lockdown think parks are the best place to be. "It's just more open and easier to keep a safe distance -- plus the view is better," says Grace Martinez, who was relaxing last week at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in California.
Travel advisor Kathleen Sullivan wants her business in top condition when travel restrictions ease, so she is researching customer relationship management programs, such as Travel Joy and TravelContact, that will connect with her Dubsado workflow automation program. Others are focused on marketing, such as Debbie Rogers' travel-themed virtual brunch and Sally Black's appearance on a local PBS station to give travel advice.
Airlines are continuing to cut flight schedules as demand plummets, and scheduled flights are being canceled as well. "Carriers are burning through cash as cancellations far outpace new bookings for US carriers, planes are only 20-30% full and new bookings are indicating 70-80% declines in traffic even as airlines make dramatic cuts in capacity -- and this is getting worse each day," said Katherine Estep, communications director for Airlines for America.
From maintenance workers taking parts from grounded planes to flight attendants practicing social distancing and lowering their number of customer touch points, a detailed look at American Airlines illustrates how the aviation industry is coping with the coronavirus pandemic. Before the World Health Organization recommended travel restrictions and European traffic began shutting down, "things were changing every few days," but "after that, things were changing by the hour, if not by the minute," said Jose Freig, who manages American's Latin America operations and coronavirus response team.
United Airlines and American Airlines are assisting the US State Department in an "unprecedented global effort" to repatriate Americans stranded abroad, as exemplified by emergency flights from Peru. "While travel demand continues to drop and United adjusts its schedules accordingly, we know some people around the globe are displaced and still need to get home, particularly in regions where government actions -- in the United States and abroad -- to bring Americans home during these challenging times," United said in a statement.
FedEx Express dedicated 28 freighter flight legs, as well as specialized ground operations, to transport specimens from COVID-19 tests from more than 50 testing centers in 12 states to laboratories last weekend, a partnership with the federal government that will be ongoing. "We have a great responsibility in these unprecedented times to do what we do best -- mobilize our network quickly to help the communities where we live and work," said FedEx President and COO Raj Subramaniam.