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T3 News Network

T3 News Network

Airbnb contributed over US$320 million to India’s Gross Domestic Product and supported close to 50,000 local jobs in 2019 alone, according to the Oxford Economics’ The Economic Impact of Airbnb in India report released today.

The landmark report explores the total economic impact of Airbnb in India between 2015 and 2019. The report found that between 2015 and 2019 Airbnb guest spending grew at an annualized rate of 83.4% and Airbnb’s contribution to the Indian economy grew more than tenfold in real terms.

Importantly, the report also highlighted how Airbnb is spreading the benefits of tourism to local communities and supporting micro-entrepreneurship and small businesses. In 2019 alone Airbnb guests spent more than USD $249 million (INR 18 billion) in India, including more than USD $94.3 million (INR 7 billion) in local shops and restaurants. 6500 Rs out of every 10,000 Rs spent outside accommodation by Airbnb guests in India went on shopping or food.

Ashish Kumar, Co-Chairman of FICCI Travel Technology Committee, said " This report mirrors and reflects that travel has progressively resonated with more consumers each year, as well as benefiting the local economies & communities. Tourism spends have continued to go up in the past few years, and understanding this pattern is the key to maintaining business interest, driving business transformation, innovating with  continued  investment  in this  sector, especially during the current critical times of recovery. Airbnb’s model is primed for supporting recovery through the mode of enabling communities.”

James Lambert, Oxford Economics’ Director of Economic Consulting in Asia, said: “Airbnb is well-placed to play an important role in bringing tourists, and their spending, back to destination economies, and in supporting the earlier recovery of domestic travel by helping households, particularly those who seek to substitute an international trip with a domestic one, discover new areas in their own country to visit.”

Amanpreet Bajaj, General Manager - Airbnb India, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan, said “The recovery of tourism and the recovery of the Indian economy are inextricably linked. The report shows how the authentic, affordable, and sustainable travel experiences offered by Airbnb can help accelerate recovery and create value for local microentrepreneurs, businesses and local communities. Looking forward, we want to continue to work closely with local governments to grow high-quality, sustainable tourism, support microentrepreneurship and help communities recover as quickly as possible. Our focus will continue to be to drive unique connections between our hosts and travel communities across segments.”

Sharjah has reopened for tourism with the assurance of top-level safety for visitors. All safety measures and precautions in place are validated through the ‘Sharjah Safe for Tourism’ stamp, launched by the World Travel and Tourism Council to reassure travellers.

Visitors are expected to flock to the Emirate’s tourism establishments. Tourists travelling to Sharjah are required to take a COVID 19 test at the Sharjah airport upon arrival (results usually out within 24 hours) and Indian passengers will also undergo another PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test upon arriving at Sharjah Airport and must self-isolate until the results are out.

"We are extremely happy and ready to welcome tourists and we are taking all necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of residents and visitors alike. Additionally, we have established a ‘Safety Assured’ stamp which follows the measures set out by the World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC) ‘Safe Travels’ initiative. The stamp follows the measures set out by the World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC) ‘Safe Travels’ stamp, the world’s first global safety and hygiene stamp for travel and tourism. SCTDA, in collaboration with Sharjah Health Authority (SHA), have dedicated teams inspecting various establishments in the emirate to ensure compliance with the required health and safety measures. Residents and tourists visiting the emirate can look for the ‘Safety Assured’ stamp displayed in the establishment prior to making a booking or upon entry. The stamp is a visual symbol which gives instant recognition of the establishment’s compliance to the precautionary measures being implemented by the government, reassuring consumers of the safety of the location, ensuring that tourists feel safe while enjoying the beauty and unique experiences of Sharjah." said Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman, SCTDA.

Sharjah is home to top tourist attractions including the Rain Room, Al Noor Island and Sharjah Mosque which opened its doors for the first time to the public in 2019. Sharjah welcomed more than 143 thousand guests from India last year, reflecting an increase of as much as 26% of visitor arrivals and representing a total market share of 8%.

India’s struggle to freedom is a significant chapter in the nation’s history and holds a value greater than any significant event of the past. The Ministry of Tourism as part of its ‘Dekho Apna Desh’ webinar series to commemorate and honour nation’s most significant day has lined up a series of five webinars that  collectively touch upon themes encompassing the freedom movement, places significant to it and pioneers who had a notable participation in helping India secure its independence.

The Ministry of Tourism organized a webinar titled “Memoirs of 1857 -A Prelude to Independence “on 8.8.2020.  This is first in this series of ‘Independence Day’ themed webinars and the 45th among overall Dekho Apna Desh webinars. Dekho Apna Desh Webinar Series is an effort to showcase India’s rich diversity under Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat and it is continuously spreading spirit of Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat through virtual platform.

The webinar was presented by Nidhi Bansal, CEO, India City Walks & India with locals and.Soumi Roy, Researcher and Story Teller and moderated by Rupinder Brar, Additional Director General, Ministry of Tourism. The Webinar took a virtual tour of the saga of our independence and the first war of India’s independence fought in 1857 and the string of events kept following till we attained complete independence in 1947. The presenters highlighted the monuments and buildings that bore the brunt of the revolt or came up as a result of it. From Delhi, Kanpur, Meerut, to many other cities across the country, the presentation showed the viewers story of valour, sacrifice and bravery.

The presenters touched upon  the reasons  that sparked the revolt like  pathetic socio economic conditions, problems of land and revenue administration, destruction of economy, low position of Indians in administration, Doctrine of Lapse, ill-treatment of Bahadur Shah Zafar, Annexation of Oudh, biased Police and Judiciary, and discrimination  with Indian sepoys.

In March 1857, Gilbert Hadow, an army surgeon in the employment of East India Company, wrote the following lines describing a strange movement afoot in 1857, in a letter to his sister in Britain.  “There is a most mysterious affair going on throughout the whole of India at present.  No one seems to know the meaning of it.  It is not known where it originated, by whom or for what purpose, whether it is supposed to be connected to any religious ceremony or whether it has to do with some secret society.  The Indian papers are full of surmises as to what it means. It is called the Chapati movement.” The entire chapati ‘movement’ left the British Empire shaken to the core. The British controlled India with a relatively small number of men (100,000 in all), subjugating a huge population of 250 million, so they were well aware of just how inadequate these numbers would be in the event of a serious rebellion.

The speaker spoke about the role of Mangal Pandey- An Indian soldier in the British army, one of the key figures behind Sepoy Mutiny or India’s First War of Independence in 1857. They narrated the incident of the afternoon of 29 March 1857, when Lieutenant Baugh, Adjutant of the 34th Bengal Native Infantry, then stationed at Barrackpore was informed that several men of his regiment were in an excited state. Further, it was reported that one of them, Mangal Pandey, was pacing in front of the regiment's guard room by the parade ground, armed with a loaded musket, calling upon the men to rebel and threatening to shoot the first European that he set eyes on.  Due to his attack on two British soldiers, Mangal Pandey was hanged to death on April 8, 1857, at the age of 29.

The webinar captured the sequence of the revolt after the outbreak of the mutiny in Meerut and how the rebels quickly reached Delhi, whose 81-year-old Mughal ruler, Bahadur Shah Zafar, was declared the Emperor of Hindustan. Soon, the rebels had captured large tracts of the North-Western Provinces and Awadh (Oudh). 

The presenters brought to light some lesser known facts and personalities associated with the First War of Independence 1857 like Raja Nahar Singh, the king of Ballabgarh, Faridabad who guarded Delhi's borders from British forces and kept Delhi liberated for over 120 days. The other battles highlighted included:

·         The Battle of Badli-ki-Serai fought early in the Indian Rebellion of 1857, or first war of Indian Independence.   

·         The Siege of Cawnpore

·         The Bibigher massacre when the violent resistance to the British rule from Eastern part of India was soon coming towards the North

The East India Company establishing a base on the Delhi ridge and with the help from reinforcements, Kanpur was retaken by mid-July 1857, and Delhi by the end of September. However, it then took the remainder of 1857 and the better part of 1858 for the rebellion to be suppressed in Jhansi, Lucknow, and especially the Awadh countryside.

The Company established a base on the Delhi ridge to the north of the city and the Siege of Delhi began. The siege lasted roughly from 1 July to 21 September. For several weeks, it seemed likely that disease, exhaustion and continuous sorties by rebels from Delhi would force the Company forces to withdraw, but the outbreaks of rebellion in the Punjab were forestalled or suppressed, allowing the Punjab Movable Column of British, Sikh and Pakhtun soldiers under John Nicholson to reinforce the besiegers on the Ridge on 14 August.

An eagerly awaited heavy siege train joined the besieging force, and from 7 September, the siege guns battered breaches in the walls and silenced the rebels' artillery. An attempt to storm the city through the breaches and the Kashmiri Gate was launched on 14 September. The attackers gained a foothold within the city but suffered heavy casualties, including John Nicholson. After a week of street fighting, the British reached the Red Fort. The British exiled Bahadur Shah Zafar to Rangoon in British-controlled Burma (now in Myanmar), after convicting him on several charges.

 

The presenters listed various places and sites associated with the First War of Independence and how one can experience the popular trail of 1857 in the following places:-

a) Barrackpore- Known for cantonment area, Mangal Pandey Cenotaph and park.

b) Gwalior- Beautiful Gwalior Fort where Rani Laxmibai sought shelter while fighting the Britishers, Samadhisthal of Rani laxmibai.

c) Jhansi- Rani Laxmibai also known as Manikarnika was married to the Maharaja of Jhansi. Jhansi Fort, Jhansi Cantonment cemetery,

d) Lucknow- Residency complex, La Martiniere College, Tomb of General Havelock, Alambagh Palace/Kothi Alamara, Alambagh, Sikander Bagh and Palace, Dilkusha bagh and Palace.

e) Kanpur- All saints memorial church located in the cantonment area, Nana Rao Park (former site of Bibighar massacre), Sati Chaura ghat.

f) Agra- Agra Fort, Agra college library is one of the oldest libraries.

g) Meerut- St John’s Church, British Cemetry,Parade ground etc.

h) The seat of power- Delhi.  There are two trails i) Kashmere Gate ii) The Northern Ridge trail

Northern Ridge trail- Vice Regal lodge built in 1902, Flagstaff power, Khooni Jheel, Hindu Rao House now converted into a hospital, Mutiny memorial.

Kashmere Gate Trail- Kashmere Gate, St. James Church, Nicholson Cemetry, British magazine, a fortified building use to store ammunition, Telegraph memorial, Khooni Darwaza.

Apart from these, there are many museums associated with the revolt of 1857 which can be witnessed showcasing the valour and struggles are Museum on 1857, Red fort, Azadi ke Diwane museum, Shahid Smark And Government Freedom Struggle Museum etc.

Brar in her concluding remarks spoke about Ministry of Tourism’s   Incredible India Tourist facilitator certification programme which will also act as an enabler for transforming and encouraging the citizen with knowledge about destination, products and story trails.  The saga of India’s freedom movement cannot be told without referring the notable contribution made by the Indian National Army (INA) led by Subash Chandra Bose. India’s military history is very fascinating and visits to some of the museums like Jaisalmer War Museum, Jaisalmer, Air force Museum, New Delhi, Indian War Memorial Museum, New Delhi, Naval Aviation Museum, Goa, Samudrika naval marine Museum, Andaman and Nicobar etc.  These museums showcase the weapons, vehicles and aircraft used by the Indian military over the years. We salute all the valiant Indian Army personnel and recall with pride their indomitable spirit, valour and sacrifices in making India a safer place.

Lufthansa has announced that, effective immediately, Indian citizens are eligible to travel on Lufthansa flights to India from the US, Canada, and other countries worldwide. Following a bilateral agreement between India and Germany, inbound passenger flights to India, one of Lufthansa’s most important international markets, will be reinstated as of 13 August for the following routes: Frankfurt to Delhi, Munich to Delhi, Frankfurt to Bangalore and Frankfurt to Mumbai.

Lufthansa has already been operating outbound flights from India for several months, departing from Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore to its Frankfurt and Munich hubs.

“We are very glad and feel privileged to be able to help people return to India and to enable business travel as the world gradually begins to open up,” says George Ettiyil, Lufthansa Group’s senior director for South Asia sales. “Our flights to and from India underline Lufthansa’s ongoing commitment to enable travel in unprecedented times for our Indian customers while upholding the highest standards of safety and hygiene.“

Since July, Lufthansa has been offering Indian customers a convenient option at Frankfurt and Munich airports to test for coronavirus at short notice. These PCR coronavirus tests only require only a throat swab and are certified by German health authorities. “Both coronavirus test centres at our hubs in Frankfurt and Munich provide customers the opportunity to avoid being quarantined when arriving in Germany, with a negative coronavirus test in their hand,” says Ettiyil. Results are usually available within four to five hours after testing and are linked to the customer’s flight ticket. Ettiyil: “This also makes it easier to travel safely to other countries worldwide that accept a certified PCR coronavirus test, thereby avoiding quarantine. “

Passenger safety is and will remain Lufthansa's top priority, especially with regard to maximum hygiene on the ground and on board. For this reason, all procedures throughout the entire travel chain have been and will continue to be reviewed in order to guarantee the safety of everyone. These are based on the latest findings and hygiene standards advocated by experts.

Aircraft operated by Lufthansa Group airlines are equipped with filters that clean the cabin air of contaminants such as dust, bacteria and viruses. Even in the current situation, with the restrictions that sometimes accompany it, the Lufthansa Group strives to offer its guests maximum comfort and safety.

Equitable Tourism Options (EQUATIONS), a research, campaign and advocacy NGO working on social, cultural, economic and environmental impacts of tourism on local communities in India, has recommended the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Govt of India to withdraw the draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification 2020 and conduct a detailed and broad public consultation involving all stakeholders and the public in order to draft a strong and robust Act.

“The proposed draft EIA Notification falls short in many ways, particularly with respect to tourism. It fails to take into account that tourism requires a robust environmental scrutiny. The COVID-19 crisis has brought out to the world the increased need for robust environmental protections. Given the learnings from this crisis, it is important to take this time to rethink and restructure the EIA framework in India, which can be the lifeline of environmental governance, bringing in the balance between environmental sustainability and development,” EQUATIONS said in a letter to Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Govt of India. It urged the Ministry to go for a detailed and constructive public consultation process to take stock of the current status of the environment and assesses the impacts felt by communities across India from various projects is the need of the hour.

Detailing more in the letter, EQUATIONS says that the draft should include a holistic and comprehensive Tourism Carrying Capacity within the EIA, in such a manner as to consider the multi-dimensionality of tourism, and with the involvement of the local community at all stages. “Most importantly, development of any area must respect the voice of the local communities. Three important dimensions of tourism have to be considered : physical-ecological, socio-demographic and political-economic. The physical-ecological element includes ecology, natural heritage, climate, water, power, fuel and other such components. The socio-demographic element includes interrelation between local communities, tourists, tourism facilities, cultural identities and other characteristics. The political-economic element includes the linkages to local economy, governance structure, policies and such characteristics. Local level planning and development is the responsibility of the Panchayati Raj. As tourism carrying capacity is also a process for management and planning of the area, it is imperative that local participation is sought at all stages,” the letter reads.

The letter further states that tourism should be included as a separate industry within the Schedule. “Tourism was included as an industry within the 1994 EIA notification, but was removed in 2006. The 2020 notification also does not include ‘tourism projects’,” the letter states adding that tourism has several negative impacts on the ‘destination’, including generation of waste, depleting water resources, changes in biodiversity and changes in social structures.

“Therefore, it is important to recognize it as a separate industry and assess its impacts. The 1994 notification recognized that impacts of tourism projects in high elevation areas or along the coasts and above 5 crores investment is required to take an Environment Clearance. Following a similar categorization, we recommend that tourism projects should also be assessed at different levels, based on location, in ecologically fragile areas and above a certain investment threshold. Such an assessment should also include a ‘Tourism Carrying Capacity’ analysis,” the letter adds.

The letter further proposes that infrastructural projects in ecologically fragile areas, including mountains and coasts, be included in the EIA as Category A or B1, without size thresholds. The role of Panchayats in regulating land usage, building construction, waste management and others has been recognized under several state-level Panchayat Raj Acts for tourism. “The EIA process must recognize the critical role of Panchayats in managing tourism development in the area, and ensure the full participation and consent of the Panchayat from the Scoping stage itself. Similarly, the Forest Rights Act 2006 and the Biodiversity Act 2002 recognize the role of Gram Sabhas in self-governance. Under both these laws, committees have been created with the explicit purpose of environmental protection. Hence, these local environment protection committees must be closely involved in the process of assessing impacts and planning mitigation measures,” it says.  EQUATIONS also recommends the inclusion of Golf courses as a separate industry within the Schedule.

It strongly recommends that tourism projects be looked at in a comprehensive manner and measured for the tourism related impacts on the environment and on local communities, not merely for individual infrastructure components. This would also bring about a huge shift in the frame of reference required to measure environmental impact assessment, the letter reads.

Air Canada has announced that it is re-starting thrice a week nonstop flights between Delhi and Toronto under the new travel guidelines.

Starting August 15 and till August 30, flights on Delhi – Toronto route will operate on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday. According to Air Canada, inventory is already open for sale on GDS and aircanada.com and through all leading travel operators.

As per the directives the following categories of travelers can travel : Canadian citizens, PR, Students, work permit holder, Indian passport holders on visitor visas.

However, guidelines and eligibility must be checked on https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/coronavirus-covid19/travel-restrictions-exemptions.html before booking if falling into Student /Work Permit Holder /Indian Passport Holder on visitor visa category.

To ensure that clients can fly with confidence, Air Canada has introduced an industry-leading programme committed to end-to-end health and safety protocols. Using new biosecurity standards and enhancing preventive measures, the airline is elevating the steps taken to keep clients safe throughout their travel, because we believe in putting safety first, always.

GVK-led Mumbai International Airport managing Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) undertook a 'Restart Feedback Survey' post the resumption of flight operations to align with the needs and expectations of the passengers along with acquiring the knowledge to continue providing them with a world-class experience. The survey conducted with 1386 passengers reveals that passengers are eagerly awaiting the return to normalcy of flight operations and are looking forward to international leisure travel. Furthermore, passengers are becoming comfortable with air travel in the new normal as 98.4 per cent of passengers flying to and from CSMIA found the airport to be safer than bus or train stations while 99.6 per cent found air travel to be the most reliable mode of transport, given the current pandemic.

Devised to understand passenger sentiments - their apprehension and expectation towards air travel during this unprecedented period, the Restart Feedback Survey displays a change in the purpose of travel for passengers, with business travel gaining momentum. The study conducted has shown a radical shift post two months of domestic flight operations where the airport identified 54.7 per cent passengers revealing that they are likely to travel for work or business purpose as compared to the 43.3 per cent of passengers who were voyaging back to their homes. Furthermore, the study divulges that passengers are happy with the safety measures undertaken by the airport and are even ready to fly twice a month.

With regards to the value-added services available at the airport, the findings indicated that the passengers are confident to avail F&B services, given the safe and hygienic choices available at the airport. Furthermore, CSMIA also observed a growing passenger comfort in retail shopping amongst the exclusive brands and products available at the airport. In terms of passenger's satisfaction, the survey revealed that 100 per cent of travellers are happy with the new procedures implemented and CSMIA has taken actions in the light of the pandemic. The study found out that 99% of the passengers rated passenger safety and hygiene experience at CSMIA four and above with maximum rating being five.

CSMIA is continuously working towards the wellbeing and safety of its passengers and ensuring it assists them with high-quality standards, as service remains a part of the DNA of the airport. CSMIA continues to impress and enthrall travellers with its exceptional services and is continually gaining insights towards passenger wants. The recent survey carried by CSMIA reaffirms the airport's vision of forward-looking, offering an assortment of best-in-class services to the passengers and making efforts in rendering travel to and from Mumbai as the most desirable and elevating experience.

Domestic airlines witnessed a rather slow uptick in capacity in July 2020 despite recommencement of operations over two months ago. Airlines operated at a much lower capacity at ~27% in July 2020 vis-à-vis their July 2019 capacity, which was a marginal increase over the ~25% capacity deployed in June 2020. For July 2020, the domestic passenger traffic was 20.6 lakhs, as against 118.6 lakhs in July 2019, a Y-o-Y de-growth of ~83%. It witnessed a sequential improvement of ~4% over 19.8 lakhs in June 2020. Sometime back the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) permitted increasing the capacity to 45% with effect from June 27, 2020, post the initial recommencement of operations of the scheduled domestic flights with effect from May 25, 2020 to a limited extent i.e. maximum 1/3rd of their respective approved capacity of Summer Schedule 2020.

Giving further analytical insights, Kinjal Shah, Vice President, ICRA, says, “The number of flights departing has also gradually increased from 416 on Day 1 to 890 on Day 69 (July 31, 2020). For July 2020, the average daily departures were 780, significantly lower than the average daily departures of 2,845 in July 2019, though better than 723 in June 2020. The average number of passengers per flight during July 2020 was 86, as against an average of 134 passengers per flight in July 2019. Thus, it is expected that the domestic aviation industry operated at a passenger load factor (PLF) of ~55% in July 2020, as against 86.3% in July 2019, that too on a very low capacity. The PLF for July 2020 has sequentially moderated from ~58% in June 2020 due to the increase in capacity deployment by ~11%. ICRA maintains that H2 FY2021 will witness some recovery, with Q4 FY2021 witnessing YoY de-growth of just 3-14% in domestic passenger traffic with improved PLFs, and overall FY2021 witnessing ~41-46% de-growth in domestic passenger traffic.”

To ensure that the airlines do not charge excessive fares and also to ensure that the journey is performed only for essential purposes, the MoCA fixed a fare band within which the airlines are supposed to charge fares. These restrictions on capacity and fares, which were earlier valid till August 24, 2020, have been extended further till November24, 2020.

IndiGo operated a special charter flight from Russia to bring back stranded Indian citizens. The IndiGo flight 6E 8691 from Moscow to Kochi transferred a total of 212 passengers on August 02, 2020. The passengers who were mostly students flew home by the chartered flight en route Moscow - Amritsar - Kochi with the assistance of Embassy of India in Moscow, Russia and Nixtour India Private Limited. IndiGo operated the flight while adhering to all the precautionary measures, ensuring a safe and hassle-free flying experience for the passengers.

Ronojoy Dutta, Chief Executive Officer, IndiGo said, “We are pleased to leverage our resources to operate repatriation flights to support stranded citizens. We would like to extend our gratitude to the Indian government for allowing charter operations, this being our first flight from Russia. We look forward to contribute and support the nation in these times”.

Etihad Airways (Etihad) has registered a core operating loss for January -June 2020 increased by US$ 172 million to US$ 758 million (H1 2019: US$ 586 million), driven by a 38 per cent drop in revenues, which stood at US$ 1.7 billion (H1 2019: US$ 2.7bn).

This was partially off-set by a 27% reduction in direct operating costs to US$ 1.9 billion (H1 2019: US$ 2.7 billion), and a 21% reduction in general and administrative expenses to US$ 0.40 billion (H1 2019: US$ 0.50), both driven by management cost containment initiatives and reduced operations. Available Seat Kilometres (ASK) reduced by 53% to 23.69 billion (H1 2019: 50.35 billion).

Etihad carried 3.5 million passengers in H1 (H1 2019: 8.2 million), a reduction of 58% from the same period the previous year. Average seat load factor was 71

The core operating result for the first three months of the year improved by 34%, despite the onset of COVID-19, with a 12% reduction in passenger numbers, and a 9.5% reduction in ASK. Q1 seat load factor was 74% (January’s performance was significantly stronger than the same month in 2019, with a seat load factor of 81.9%), and yield at US$ 5.92 cents. Unit revenue in Q1 reduced by 3.3% to US$ 4.14 cents (Q1 2019: US$ 4.28 cents), offset by continuous focus on driving down unit costs, which were reduced by 2.4% to US$ 7.01 cents (Q1 US$ 7.18 cents).

However, the airline saw a significant decrease in Q2 operating revenues following COVID-19 flight suspensions, with 70% of its fleet grounded. This period registered a 99% drop in passenger numbers and a 95% drop in ASK compared to Q2 2019. Seat load factor for this period was 16%, mainly driven by the operation of special (repatriation) flights, and the resumption of a limited network of transfer services via Abu Dhabi in early June.

Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “Etihad faced a set of enormous and unpredictable challenges in the first six months of the year. We started 2020 strong, and recorded encouraging results as part of our continuing transformation programme. This left us in a relatively robust position when COVID-19 hit, allowing us to act with agility, and to mobilise all available resources as the crisis deepened, taking major steps to reduce costs through a wide-reaching series of measures.

“While we have revised our outlook for the rest of 2020 based on current realities, we remain optimistic that as international borders re-open, we will increase our flying and carry more guests securely and with greater peace of mind, supported by the Etihad Wellness programme and our new Wellness Ambassadors. By September, we aim to increase our worldwide flights to half our pre-COVID-19 capacity. Looking forward, we rest assured that the UAE is leading the way in the research for a vaccine against COVID-19. The incredible efforts Abu Dhabi is making to ensure the safety and security of its residents and visitors will soon enable us to welcome the world back to our amazing home. This commitment was successfully highlighted by the recent hosting of major UFC events in the capital.”

Adam Boukadida, Chief Financial Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “This year started strong, riding on the positive momentum gained in 2019, and by the end of the first quarter, the airline was on track to achieve a 2020 EBITDA of US$ 900 million (2019: US$ 453 million). Etihad managed to maintain a satisfactory level of liquidity despite a major drop in revenues, while continuing to raise new liquidity facilities supported by local and international financial institutions. This was supported by maintaining an ‘A with a stable outlook’ Fitch rating in April, at the height of the pandemic. Etihad was one of a small number of airlines to maintain its pre-COVID-19 credit rating.

“A greater emphasis is being placed on a drive towards increased cost optimisation and efficiencies across the entire business to face the hurdles placed in our way by COVID-19. Our suppliers and partners have also worked closely with us, including the arrangement of payment holidays with lessors and savings discussions with all of our supply chain, so we can re-emerge stronger together.”

 

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