Japan Considering Resuming Domestic Travel Subsidies Mid-Jan – Nikkei | World News


TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s government is considering resuming subsidies aimed at promoting domestic tourism as early as mid-January, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Sunday.

The move will ease the strain on airlines and hotels hit by shrinking travel from the coronavirus pandemic, and underscore hopes among policymakers to reflate the economy out of the doldrums through pent-up demand.

The subsidies will be part of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s new pandemic-relief programme expected to be compiled on Friday.

As COVID-19 infections began to rise, Japan halted in December a programme that used taxpayers’ money to offer domestic tourists discounts for hotels and domestic travel fees.

On request from the tourism industry, the government will consider resuming the programme from mid-January or February, until around late April, the Nikkei said.

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The government will offer bigger discounts for travel during the weekdays compared with those on the weekend, to avoid trips being concentrated during the weekend, the paper said.

It will also lower the maximum amount of discount offered per travel compared with the previous programme, the Nikkei said without citing sources.

The government was not immediately available to comment.

Japan’s economy likely contracted an annualised 0.8% in the third quarter as supply constraints and state of emergency curbs to combat the pandemic hit exports and consumption, according to a Reuters poll.

Analysts expect consumption to pick up after the Sept. 30 end of the curbs, though slowing Chinese growth and lingering supply bottlenecks cloud the outlook for the export-reliant economy. The government will release preliminary third-quarter gross domestic product data on Monday.

(Reporting by Leika Kihara; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.



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Domestic flights should require vaccine or testing, lawmakers say


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With the holiday travel season rapidly approaching, three dozen lawmakers are pushing the federal government to require proof of full vaccination or a negative coronavirus test to board domestic flights.

Lawmakers said the additional travel restrictions would “ensure Americans can travel safely to see their loved ones during the holidays while also limiting household introduction and spread of COVID-19 from visiting family and friends,” according to a letter sent to President Joe Biden.

The push for more mandates comes less than a week after the United States updated its entry requirements for international air travel. As of Monday, most foreign nationals must be fully vaccinated and all travelers aged 2 and older who have not recently recovered from COVID-19 – including U.S. citizens – must show a negative coronavirus test to enter. 

The lawmakers said extending vaccine and testing mandates to domestic air travel would boost Americans’ confidence in travel and help the country’s tourism and hospitality industries recover, and argued that it would improve public health by pressuring more travelers to get vaccinated.

► US travel restrictions: International tourists arrive to long lines on Nov. 8

The letter cites polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation, which published a survey in May that found about four in ten respondents who said they wanted to wait and see how the vaccine works for other people before getting vaccinated themselves would be more likely to get the shot it was required to fly on an airplane.

The letter, dated Thursday but published Friday, also asks that the safety protocols on trains and other modes of public transportation continue to be updated to reflect new data on how to curb the spread of the virus. 

“This is a necessary and long overdue step toward ensuring all Americans feel safe and confident while traveling and reduce the chances of yet another devastating winter surge,” the letter reads. 

► A sprint to Times Square, the Strip: How international tourists spent their first hours in the US after travel ban lift

This isn’t the first time lawmakers have tried to add more stringent safety protocols for domestic flights. California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, whose signature is included on the letter, introduced a bill in September that would require all  U.S. passengers to be fully vaccinated, fully recovered or test negative for the coronavirus before boarding a domestic flight. 

The U.S. Travel Association, which promotes travel to the United States, released a statement against vaccine mandates for domestic flights that same month. 

“The science—including studies from the Harvard School of Public Health and the U.S. Department of Defense—overwhelmingly points to the safety of air travel as long as masks are worn,” Tori Emerson Barnes, the group’s executive vice president of public affairs and policy, said in a Sept. 13 release. “And with the federal mask mandate for all forms of public transportation and U.S. airports extended through January 2022, proper tools are already in place to enable safe air travel for Americans.”

Follow USA TODAY reporter Bailey Schulz on Twitter: @bailey_schulz





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Sen. Feinstein introduces bill to require vaccine or negative test for domestic flights – The Washington Post



Sen. Feinstein introduces bill to require vaccine or negative test for domestic flights  The Washington Post



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United Sees Domestic, Transatlantic Business Rebound


Corporate bookings at United Airlines are “moving in the right direction,” with both domestic and transatlantic business travel showing signs of recovery in recent weeks, United CEO Scott Kirby said Wednesday during the carrier’s third-quarter earnings call.

“The effects of the delta [Covid-19] variant on our business was substantial, however we expect the worst of this wave is now past,” United chief commercial officer Andrew Nocella said. “In the last two weeks, we’ve seen several leading business indicators return to where we were in July or better.”

Among those indicators, domestic business travel demand has rebounded to the levels seen before the emergence of the delta variant, with business travel demand from United’s largest corporate accounts increasing at a rate similar to its smallest accounts, he said. Demand has been particularly strong from consulting companies but has been rebounding “across the board” in United’s business sectors, according to Nocella. 

Overall, domestic business travel is nearing the 50 percent market compared with pre-pandemic levels, Nocella said. Delta Air Lines reported a similar rate of rebound last week.

“We have not recovered fully on business traffic and have a long way to go,” he said. “Just looking at the trends of only the last few days, our level of being bullish about this has increased a lot. The numbers for the delta variant caused things to go down quickly, and now that we’re past the delta variant, it appears they’re going to go up hopefully just as quickly.”

With the reopening of U.S. borders to vaccinated European travelers a month away, “business traffic across the Atlantic is now tracking consistent with or slightly better than domestic business traffic,” he added.

The return-to-office plans for United’s corporate customers remains a “hodgepodge,” with “people in general more and more returning to their office environment,” Nocella said. United expects business travel to accelerate next year with “a lot of pent-up demand,” he said.

United reported $6.6 billion in passenger revenue for the quarter, down 36.7 percent compared with the third quarter of 2019. Domestic passenger revenue made up $4.8 billion of that total, with transatlantic routes contributing $840 million in revenues, Latin America routes contributing $743 million and transpacific routes contributing $209 million.

Total revenue for the quarter was $7.8 billion, down 31.9 percent compared with 2019. Cargo revenue was up 84 percent across the same period.

As the rebound continues, Kirby said United’s early action with vaccine mandates would benefit the carrier as it would give travelers a reason to “book with confidence” with United. To date, 99.7 percent of the carrier’s employees opted to get vaccinated, president Brett Hart said.

Kirby said that airlines not pursuing mandates, instead letting employees request exemptions and do regular testing for Covid-19, could find themselves facing operational challenges.

“They’re likely to have tens of thousands of employees that need to be tested every week,” Kirby. “People will forget to do their test, do it wrong, don’t get it done or test positive. If you think weather in one state can lead to a meltdown, imagine if you have thousands of employees calling in on one day and saying their test didn’t pass. This is in the rear-view mirror for United.”

United reported net income of $473 million for the third quarter, which included benefits of federal payroll aid. Adjusted for that and other special items, United’s net loss for the quarter was $329 million, compared with an adjusted net loss of $2.4 billion in the third quarter of 2020.

RELATED: United Q2 earnings



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Reminders for SBU Community About International and Domestic Travel |


Spring campus fountain 2Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Paul M. Goldbart and Vice President for Research Richard J. Reeder have shared with the campus community reminders about international and domestic travel. The message reads as follows:

Dear Stony Brook Community,

As the academic year unfolds, here are a few reminders about international and domestic travel.

State and federal health guidelines continue to recommend avoiding international and domestic travel unless travelers are fully vaccinated. If travel is necessary, CDC provides recommendations of precautionary measures.

All Stony Brook faculty, staff, and graduate student employees planning domestic or international travel to conduct research, attend a conference, or participate in other University business must abide by the following instructions for pre-approval. We advise prospective travelers to obtain pre-approval prior to booking any travel arrangements.

  • For State-Funded Travel and Non-Sponsored Research Travel: All domestic and international travel requires pre-approval, which can be requested through the Concur system.
  • For Sponsored Research Travel: No pre-approval is required for domestic travel. International travel requires pre-approval by utilizing the Electronic Foreign Travel Request portal (eFTR).

All prospective travelers for research should review the guidance for travel on sponsored research awards administered through the Research Foundation. All international travelers should review the Export Controls guidance.

Concur System Implementation: Starting in October 2021, the SBU Travel Program began implementing the Concur Travel Expense Reimbursement system. Please visit our website to learn more about Concur and register for training. All travelers should review the current Covid-19 Travel Reimbursement guidelines to ensure compliance in advance of any travel.

Travel Risk Level: International travelers should check the U.S. Department of State to stay updated on the level of risk associated with their destination. Most nations at this time have been identified as high risk, according to CDC and NYS Department of Health.

Sincerely,

Paul M. Goldbart Provost & Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

Richard J. Reeder, Vice President for Research

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Delta’s Domestic Corp. Travel Recovery Nears 50 Percent Mark


Delta Air Lines’ corporate travel volume in recent weeks has grown to its highest point during the Covid-19 pandemic recovery, with domestic business travel volume last week nearing 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels, CEO Ed Bastian said Wednesday in Delta’s third-quarter earnings call.

For the overall third quarter, domestic corporate travel volumes were about 40 percent recovered, which is 10 percentage points higher than their recovery rate in the second quarter, Bastian said. While corporate travel recovery “paused” in August and early September while Covid-19 case counts grew with the spread of the delta variant, spurring many companies to delay return-to-office plans, demand since Labor Day once again has picked up, he said.

Delta’s most recent survey of its corporate customers indicated that 90 percent expect their travel volumes in the fourth quarter to be equal to or higher than third-quarter levels, according to Bastian. About 60 percent of Delta’s corporate customers said they have reopened their offices, and an additional 10 percent said they would do so before the end of 2021.

“We anticipate meaningful acceleration in business travel starting at that point,” Bastian said. “We hear regularly from our corporate customers that they’re ready to get back to travel, see their clients face-to-face, renew business relationships and develop new ones.”

Business travel volumes from unmanaged programs are running five to 10 percentage points ahead of managed programs, with “smaller, hungrier companies out there hitting the road sooner than some of the bigger multinationals,” Delta president Glen Hauenstein said.

International business travel also is showing signs of recovery, he said. In the second and third quarter, corporate travel to Europe was running at about 15 percent of pre-pandemic levels, but that has improved to 30 percent in recent weeks with the news that the U.S. will open to vaccinated foreign visitors next month. Long-haul travel to South America, previously “pretty much nonexistent,” also has started to recover, and the Pacific region could be next in line, according to Hauenstein.

“We are expecting those to improve significantly … as the vaccination rates in important places for us like Korea and Japan are now approaching between 70 percent and 80 percent,” he said. “Hopefully, we get some good news out of that region of the world starting in the next few months.”

Domestic leisure travel, meanwhile, has made a “full return” to 2019 levels, Bastian said. Delta’s passenger revenue for the third quarter was $7.2 billion, 37 percent of 2019 levels, and total third-quarter operating revenue was 27 percent of 2019 levels, boosted by a 39 percent increase in cargo revenue compared with 2019.

Delta executives noted that premium travel revenues have been strong even with the lower rates of business travel and indicated that Delta would look to increase premium seating capacity in the future.

“We’re selling [premium seats] 10 points higher than we did pre-pandemic,” Bastian said. “We always ran relatively full in terms of load factor, but a lot of those are complimentary upgrades, and we’re seeing people are willing to pay us for those seats. That’s why we want to create more over time.”

Delta reported net income of $1.2 billion for the third quarter, which included the benefits from federal aid due to the pandemic. Excluding that and other special items, Delta still reported net income of $194 million for the quarter, its first such profitable quarter since the pandemic began.

Bastian said he expected the carrier would see a “modest loss” in the fourth quarter due to rising fuel prices.

RELATED: Delta Q2 earnings



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Fauci says vaccine mandate for domestic air travel is not expected 'immediately' – The Washington Post



Fauci says vaccine mandate for domestic air travel is not expected ‘immediately’  The Washington Post



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Senate bill would put Covid restrictions on domestic air travel: Travel Weekly


A new Senate bill would require all passengers on domestic airline flights to be fully vaccinated, test negatively for Covid-19 within 72 hours of departure or show proof of recent recovery from the virus. 

The bill, filed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D.-Calif.), follows a similar one filed in the House last month by Rep. Don Beyer (D.-Va.). 

“We know that air travel during the 2020 holiday season contributed to last winter’s devastating Covid-19 surge. We simply cannot allow that to happen again,” Feinstein said in a prepared remark. “Ensuring that air travelers protect themselves and their destination communities from this disease is critical to prevent the next surge, particularly if we confront new, more virulent variants of Covid-19.”

Travel industry lobby groups have opposed similar proposals, arguing that they are difficult on families with children who cannot be vaccinated and are not needed due to the safety of airplane environments as it relates to Covid transmission. 



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Officials maintain there should be no mandatory vaccination requirement for domestic travel in the United States


DETROIT – There are many measures in airports and on airplanes meant to keep travelers safe from coronavirus.

David Fishman with Cadillac Travel said he wouldn’t be surprised if airlines make even more safety changes soon. Fishman said requiring vaccines could create lots of confusion unless it’s adopted by the entire airline industry.

“U.S. travel has long maintained that there should be no mandatory vaccination requirement for domestic travel. Such a policy would have an unfair, negative impact on families with young children who are not yet eligible to get the vaccine,” a spokesperson for the U.S. travel industry said.

In Miami, there are tests underway for a new program for dogs to sniff out COVID. Trained dogs are being used to identify airline employees who are positive for COVID.

If it proves successful, other highly trained dogs may be brought into terminals.

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With more people getting vaccinated, demand from domestic and inter-island travel soar – Hawaii News Now



With more people getting vaccinated, demand from domestic and inter-island travel soar  Hawaii News Now



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