United Airlines (UAL) expects omicron surge to further delay recovery

An aircraft takes off from O’Hare International Airport on January 18, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois.

Scott Olson | Getty Images

United Airlines said the surge in Covid-19 infections has hurt bookings in recent weeks and will further delay its recovery from the pandemic.

The Chicago-based airline said it expects first-quarter revenue to be 20% to 25% below the same period in 2019 when it generated $9.59 billion.

United lowered its 2022 growth forecast, saying it would fly less this year than it did three years ago, scrapping its plan to increase capacity by 5% from pre-pandemic levels. Costs for the first quarter would be up by as much as 15%, excluding fuel, and capacity down by 16% to 18% from three years earlier.

United’s shares were off more than 2% in after-hours trading.

The airline said that bookings for spring and summer are strong, however.

“The United team has been fighting through unprecedented obstacles to, once again, overcome the new and daunting challenges that COVID-19 is bringing to aviation, and I am grateful to each one of them for their commitment to taking care of our customers,” United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said in an earnings release. “Omicron is impacting near term demand, we remain optimistic about the spring and excited about the summer and beyond.”

Delta Air Lines last week also said the omicron variant dented early 2022 bookings early this year and that it would drive it to a first-quarter loss, but that it expected to be profitable by March, forecasting a rebound in travel demand.

American Airlines reports before the market opens on Thursday.

United posted a net loss of $646 million, compared with a $641 million profit in the fourth quarter of 2019 but a smaller loss than the $1.9 billion it lost in the same quarter of 2020.

Revenue in the last three months of the year came in at $8.19 billion, off nearly 25% from 2019 but it was its strongest quarter of the pandemic thanks to robust holiday bookings. It was ahead of analysts’ estimates of $7.97 billion.

Adjusting for one-time items, United had a loss per share of $1.60, better than the $2.11 analysts estimated.

Here’s how United performed in the fourth quarter compared with what Wall Street expected, based on average estimates compiled by Refinitiv:

  • Adjusted results per share: a loss of $1.60 versus an expected loss of $2.11
  • Total revenue: $8.19 billion versus expected $7.97 billion.

United executives will hold a call with analysts and media on Thursday at 10:30 a.m. ET.

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Travel news latest: Holiday bookings surge as demand returns to pre-pandemic levels

The cost of going on holiday has tumbled as new travel testing rules come into force.

Following an announcement from Boris Johnson on Wednesday, travellers are now saved from the costly process of taking a lateral flow test before their return to the UK (costing roughly £20 per person) and a PCR test on day two of their arrival (costing roughly £80 per person) – for a family of four this cuts £500 off the price of a holiday.

Under the new rules, which come into force at 4am on Friday, fully vaccinated holidaymakers will now only face taking a Day Two lateral flow test. 

Tour operators are standing by for a surge in bookings, for both ski and winter sun holidays. Ailsa Pollard, CEO of DNATA Travel Group, which owns the likes of Travel Republic and Travelbag, described the news as “the positive start to the 2022 that the travel industry needs.”

“There have been many false dawns since this pandemic begun, but this is a sensible and timely move. There are some fantastic deals available, with many new measures in place to ensure customers can book with total confidence.”

In a further boost to travellers, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We want to provide more certainty to passengers and businesses, and will do a full review of our international travel measures for 2022 by the end of the month.”

Testing hasn’t been completely scrapped however. Unvaccinated travellers must continue to follow the old rules, including self isolation for 10 days, and many destinations require travellers to take tests before their arrival.

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Travel news live: Latest updates as holiday bookings surge

The travel industry has welcomed yesterday’s change to the travel testing rules, with a surge in holiday bookings expected in the coming weeks.

Boris Johnson yesterday announced that both pre-departure Covid tests and the requirement for PCR tests would be scrapped for fully vaccinated travellers and under 18s.

The CEO of Kuoni’s parent company Der Touristik UK, Derek Jones, has predicted that travel will be “90 per cent back before the end of spring”.

Those arriving to the UK from 4am tomorrow, 7 January, no longer need to present a negative PCR or antigen test result, and no longer have to self-isolate while waiting for results of their day two test.

Then, from 4am on Sunday 9 January, double jabbed travellers and under-18s will be able to use lateral flow (antigen) tests rather than more expensive PCRs.

Meanwhile, the Scottish and Northern Irish governments have yet to announce whether they will follow suit with England’s easing of testing rules.

Yesterday Wales’s minister for health and social services, Eluned Morgan, confirmed that she had “reluctantly agreed” to the plans.

Follow all the latest updates below.


Scottish government “frustration” over travel testing announcement

Scotland’s health secretary, Humza Yousaf, has criticised Boris Johnson’s government for announcing eased travel testing rules before all four UK nations had agreed to changes.

Speaking on BBC Good Morning Scotland, Mr Yousaf said: “Although we’re engaged in conversations with the UK government, it’s a source of frustration that if the UK government unilaterally decides to move in a certain direction, we end up with potentially a double whammy if we don’t align.

“Our aviation sector, which has undoubtedly been significantly affected throughout the course of this pandemic, get further hit.

“Also, we don’t end up realising any public health benefit if we have to put measures in place because ultimately a number of people may well travel from English airports if that is seen to be easier or cheaper.”

The presenter, Gary Robertson, asked: “So would you rather not align with this measure?”

The health secretary replied: “That’s not what I’m saying. I’m simply saying that it would be helpful if the discussions could not just happen on a four-nations basis, but any announcements could take place on a four-nations basis.”

Mr Yousaf said MSPs will be told about any changes on Thursday afternoon.

“It’s obviously important that we update parliament first and foremost,” he said.

Simon Calder6 January 2022 08:45


Your most-asked travel questions answered

Following the announcement of a change in rules, the travel desk of The Independent has been flooded with readers’ questions. These are some of the most recent:

Q: Why is there a discrepancy between the changes in pre-departure and PCR tests?

A: Pre-departure tests are not required for arrivals from 4am on Friday. Post-arrival lateral flow tests (LFTs) can replace PCRs from 4am on Sunday. The difference in timing is to allow testing companies to re-orient their offerings.

Q: The lateral flow test on return. Is this a paid-for LFT or the free issue LFT?

A: All day two tests must be privately booked and paid for, even lateral flow tests. NHS tests cannot be used for international travel.

Q: We land from Dubai at Heathrow on Friday 7 January at 5.45am. Do we still need to take a PCR test before boarding

A: No. Very few countries or airlines demand proof from departing travellers. And Emirates makes clear that passengers from Dubai do not. The airline says: “Passengers travelling from Dubai will need to undergo Covid‑19 PCR testing only if it is required by the country you are travelling to.” Which it won’t be.

Here’s everything we know about the new rules:

Simon Calder6 January 2022 08:26


Travellers await Scotland and Northern Ireland update

Ministers in Scotland and Northern Ireland have yet to confirm that they’ll follow suit with England’s changes to travel testing rules.

An update is expected this morning.

Yesterday afternoon, Wales’s minister for health and social services, Eluned Morgan, confirmed that the Welsh government had “reluctantly agreed” to the plans.

“Just a few weeks after its notification to the World Health Organisation, Omicron has spread around the world and is now the dominant form of the virus in the UK,” said Morgan in a statement.

“In line with decisions being taken elsewhere in the UK, I have today reluctantly agreed to remove the requirements for fully vaccinated travellers and under 18s to take a pre-departure test (PDT) and a day 2 PCR test when arriving in the UK.

“We are concerned at the speed at which the UK government is re-opening international travel, given on-going concerns of importing new variants and adding additional pressure to our health services.

“Day two PCR testing acts as something of a surveillance system for international travel – if we had retained the requirement for a day two PCR test, we may have been alerted to the presence and introduction of Omicron earlier.”

Lucy Thackray6 January 2022 07:58


Consumers urged to check for financial protection as bookings surge

With travel testing rules for arrivals in the UK set to ease at the weekend, holiday sales are increasing.

Airlines and tour operators say that the removal of the pre-departure test will restore confidence among travellers.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is urging consumers to be book Atol-protected holidays and look out for hidden costs.

Michael Budge, head of Atol at the CAA, said: “This weekend, typically known as ‘Sunshine Saturday’, is traditionally the busiest time of the year for people booking their holidays.

“With travel restrictions easing, many consumers will be taking advantage of bargain deals, but could be missing out on key financial protection.

“If you are booking a package holiday, make sure you check for the Atol logo to ensure you are protected in the unlikely case that your travel company stops trading.”

The CAA also urges travellers to check what is covered by the Atol certificate.

Extras under a separate booking, such as theme park tickets, travel insurance or seat upgrades, are unlikely to be covered.

Passengers at Gatwick Airport’s North Terminal

(Simon Calder)

Simon Calder6 January 2022 07:39


Good morning

Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s travel liveblog, where we’ll be sharing all the latest news and updates.

Lucy Thackray6 January 2022 07:34

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Goa Travel restrictions: Goa sees a surge in New Year tourists despite restrictions

Goa sees a surge in New Year tourists despite restrictions

Goa saw a massive surge of tourists on New Year’s Eve, despite the state government’s restrictions. Goa is a prime destination for the winter months, most notably over the year-end, but this year the government had imposed tough restrictions to curb the spread of the virus. Despite the rules and regulations, tourism over the year-end boomed, with tourists crowding beaches, nightclubs, and pubs.

India had imposed night curfews on major cities in the run up to New Year’s Eve, since a surge in COVID-19 cases. Goa too had done the same, with authorities ruling that all establishments, such as bars, casinos, and restaurants, will only admit those guests with valid vaccination certificates, or those with a negative test result. Notably, Calangute, in North Goa was thronged by tourists.

Goa was so busy over the New Year’s that managers of cruise boats and restaurants said that they found it hard to keep up with the surge in customers. In fact, workers were kept busy round the clock from 11 am in the morning to 11 pm at night. Goa certainly has its charms, but the lack of responsibility on the part of travellers is astonishing. Especially at a time when the world is facing fresh concerns over the new variant of coronavirus, Omicron.

India has gone into defensive mode against the virus, with West Bengal being the latest state to impose partial lockdown. A total of 13154 new COVID-19 cases were reported, with a total of 268 deaths in the last 24 hours. It was the highest number of cases reported in a single day since last October.

Also See:
Best places to visit in 2022 | 50 travel experiences we wish to have in 2022

Also See:
Best places to visit in India in 2022 | 10 hidden gems to visit in India in 2022

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U.S. rings in New Year with Covid surge, scaled back celebrations and travel woes

As the United States prepared to ring in 2022, the nation has set yet another record for daily coronavirus cases, New Year’s Eve celebrations were scaled back and travel plans were disrupted because of the pandemic. 

The U.S. marked a record 584,545 new coronavirus cases Thursday in a week when the country broke new case records for three days straight, according to an NBC News data analysis. On Thursday, the 7-day rolling average of new daily coronavirus cases was a record 342,768, the third day in a row of a record seven-day average.

Before this week, the highest 7-day average was Jan. 11, 2021 at 257,583.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the omicron variant accounted for 58.6 percent of all Covid cases in the country in the week ending Dec. 25, while the delta variant accounted for 41.1 percent of cases.

By Friday afternoon, there were more than 1,400 flight cancellations within, into or out of the United States with more than 2,880 cancellations worldwide, according to the tracking website FlightAware. That compared with about 1,400 U.S. cancellations for all of Thursday, The Associated Press reported, adding total U.S. cancellations since Christmas Eve have totaled above 9,000.

Thousands of flights have been canceled amid ongoing holiday travel chaos, with airlines blaming the spread of the omicron variant and adverse weather conditions for the disruptions.

New York City, where there are a record number of Covid cases amid the nationwide surge, will welcome 2022 with a scaled-back celebration in Times Square after revelers were banned last year. 

Photos: Muted celebrations ring in new year around the world

“We want to show that we’re moving forward, and we want to show the world that New York City is fighting our way through this,” Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose last day in office is Friday, said Thursday on the “TODAY” Show. The mayor cited the city’s high vaccination rate as a reason a restricted number of revelers in masks could witness the celebration this year. 

The city has capped attendance at 15,000, a far cry from the tens of thousands in the years before the pandemic that would mark the New Year in Times Square to watch the ball drop.

Meanwhile, officials in Atlanta canceled the ​​New Year’s Eve Peach Drop for a third year in a row.

“In consultation with public health officials, we have made the very difficult decision to cancel the Peach Drop,” Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said in a statement this week. “As positive Covid-19 cases rise, I encourage everyone to be safe, get vaccinated and follow CDC guidelines.”

And San Francisco canceled this year’s New Year’s Eve fireworks show because of the wave of cases.

“While we are all understandably eager to ring in a new year with San Francisco’s customary New Year’s Eve fireworks show, we must remain vigilant in doing all we can to stop the spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement this week. “By canceling the New Year’s Eve fireworks show we are reducing everyone’s exposure to Covid-19, while ensuring continuity of citywide public safety operations.

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Holiday travel is high as COVID-19 cases and tests surge

ORLANDO, Fla. – New Year’s Eve is expected to be the second busiest day for holiday travel at Orlando International Airport, with more than 153,000 travelers.


What You Need To Know

  • New Year’s Eve will be second busiest travel day for OIA
  • Monday, Orange County Health Officials reported the highest number of COVID-19 cases in a single day
  • The airport testing site will be closed Saturday and will reopen Sunday.


This comes as COVID-19 cases continue to shatter records. On Monday, Orange County Health officials reported the highest number of cases in one day since the pandemic began, more than 2,500 cases.

Airport employee Damion Baxter understands the importance of make sure he’s protected COVID-19- not just for himself but his family, friends, and everyone at the airport.

“In Jamaica they say do the right thing! So you don’t touch stuff and put your hand in your mouth. You have to pay the bills and if you’re sick, you can’t work and pay the bills so you have to protect yourself,” explains Damion.

Which is why he just received his second vaccination.

Damion says these past few weeks at the airport have been incredibly busy. 

“Holiday time is always busy and people haven’t traveled for two years and who wouldn’t want to be with their family at this time. I wasn’t surprised at all. I came prepared for it!” exclaims Damion.

But others, like Marcela Boudreau weren’t quite prepared for the crowds. Marcela and her family thought traveling on New Year’s Eve would make it easier. Instead, they found themselves waiting in line for a COVID-19 test ahead of their flight to Brazil.

“We did a PCR test on 8 a.m. on Wednesday and they guaranteed 1-2 day turnaround and we still haven’t gotten the results so we had to come to the airport early,” says Marcela.

The airport testing site will be closed Saturday and reopen Sunday. According to the online reservation site, there aren’t any available reservations until Monday. Walk-ins are welcome.​

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Travel, school, work during COVID surge | What to know

As COVID-19 cases rise again, Americans who are hesitant to return to work or school have less federal protection, but some options remain.

ATLANTA — With coronavirus cases spiking once again, many Americans have questions about the post-holiday return to work and school.

Luckily, attorney Jessica Cino explained many of the early pandemic rules and laws no longer apply.

“A lot of what was in place earlier were short term fixes that expired,” she said.

Cino also added that employees hesitant to return to work have less federal protection, but some options remain.

“You can use sick leave, you can use vacation leave, you have 12 weeks entitled to you under the Family Medical Leave Act,” she said. “But there’s no requirement that the employer keeps your job open for you.”

Cino said people suffering from long haul COVID symptoms might have a case for employment protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but such a case would have to go through the courts.

However, while employers are encouraged to allow remote work, they are not obligated to make that accommodation. The same goes for schools.

“A school is not required to provide remote learning at this point,” Chino said.

But, parents do have options.

“A parent can certainly keep a child home if they don’t believe that the school environment is safe,” Chino said.

You can also switch to home schooling which does have virtual options.

Many Americans are also wondering how the COVID-19 case surge will impact their travel plans.

Willis Orlando, a flight tracking expert with Scott’s Cheap Flights, said airlines are scrambling to recover and retain customer loyalty.

“Airlines have repeatedly, in one way or the other, dropped the ball,” he said. “There’s absolutely low confidence in the airlines right now. We’ve seen some airlines aggressively move to get out ahead of their competitors and put these protections back to kind of inspire public confidence again.”

That means record low prices and the return of flexible ticketing.

“For example, right now, both Delta and United have reintroduced that wave change fee policy for tickets,” said Orlando. “Both Delta and United have also introduced text message options for reaching customer service via their apps. Those didn’t exist pre-pandemic.”

The experts also predict it’s unlikely we’ll see a full travel ban again.

“We think that Americans who are vaccinated, who are willing to take a test will be able to visit most of the world,” Orlando said. “Countries may not continue to open up further, but we’re not seeing a whole lot of scaling back.”

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Holiday travel continues to surge at OIA, here are the latest parking updates – WFTV

ORLANDO, Fla. — 3 p.m. Update:

Update from Orlando International Airport.

The following parking lots are closed:

  • West Park Place
  • Economy Overflow

The following parking lots are open:

  • South Park Place
  • North Park Place
  • Garage A
  • Garage B
  • Terminal Top

Previous Story:

The holiday travel season remains in full swing and Orlando International Airport continues to see a record number of travelers going through the gates this year.

According to airport officials, Monday is expected to be the 4th busiest day this travel season.

Airport officials say they expect 146,000 people to pass through TSA checkpoints on Monday.

The busiest travel day ahead will be New Year’s Day, with 153,000 travelers expected.

In total, 2.6 million people are set to fly in and out of Orlando this holiday season.

Read: Child Tax Credit: IRS sending letter with tax filing info to those who received payments

Here is an updated list of parking lots capacity as of 11 a.m. on Monday.

The following parking lots are closed:

  • West Park Place
  • South Park Place

The following parking lots are open:

  • Economy Overflow
  • North Park Place
  • Garage A
  • Garage B
  • Terminal Top

Read: Florida job growth will outpace nation next year, report shows

Airport officials want to remind anyone planning to park at the airport to arrive three hours before their flight.

Carpooling or using a rideshare service is highly encouraged to save time.

Due to the volume of arriving passengers, anyone picking up family or friends from the airport should use the cell lots when waiting and not park on the side of the road, and only come to the arrivals curb when their passengers have collected all of their bags and are waiting for pickup.

Read: Ronald Greene’s mother searches for truth and justice in her son’s death

Click here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.

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