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20 minutes with: Juan Fernandez from Elli Travel Group | Instant News



The pandemic has made 2020 the year of tranquility. As the vast majority of Americans were confined to their homes for long periods of time, few industries suffered as much as travel, with flights, hotels and vacations canceled. Last year, travel spending in the United States fell 42% to just $ 679 billion, according to a Tourism Economics study. International and business travel were particularly hard hit, with spending by the former falling 76% and spending by the latter 70%. But with millions of Americans now vaccinated, the future looks brighter for travelers and the industry as a whole. Penta spoke with Juan Fernandez, operational partner of the travel agency Elli Travel Group, based in Larchmont, New York, to find out what to expect for the industry as the pandemic subsides. slowly. PENTA: How did you feel when the pandemic hit? Juan Fernandez: It was a surreal experience. The first few months we were under overwhelming pressure as we navigated an ever-changing landscape and made sure all trips were reimbursed. Then frustration set in, as states, countries and cities implemented different restrictions. On a personal basis, the biggest frustration was not being able to see family in Puerto Rico. After 10 long months, we were grateful to land on the island and celebrate Christmas with my parents. What does the travel slowdown mean for small travel providers like you? The downside of the pandemic was that our revenue was down 64% from 2019. The upside is that our customers have become more loyal than ever. Small boutique agencies have never had the high fixed costs of large agencies, which struggle with many in-house staff responsible for booking air and hotel travel for leisure and corporate clients. Our cost structure has always been weak, but we were still able to reduce our costs by renegotiating contracts. What will the pandemic mean for the travel industry as a whole? I think the pandemic shock of 2020 is the complete opposite of the slowdown we saw during the economic crisis of 2009-2010. This period took several years to recover the lost ground. This time around, the devastating downturn will translate into increased demand for luxury travel. During the lockdown, people stayed home and spent less on dining, entertainment, or traveling. Do many clients now have more disposable income than ever before? Research by private equity firms shows credit card fees in 2020 are down 14%. Meanwhile, high-end luxury customers have seen their investments rise in value as stock markets hit all-time highs. The balance sheet of the traveler is in the best shape possible. So are people eager to hit the road? Our avid travelers call their current planning “revenge journey”. These clients send us an 18 month travel plan and have already booked their trips for 2021. Currently, our summer bookings are comparable to 2019. The big difference, however, is that 80% of trips are domestic, for example. compared to our typical summer where domestic travel would have been 25%. Bookings in Europe are still down 85% from 2019. What destinations are people looking to go to? In the short term, we will see moderate demand for urban destinations. Places like New York or London will experience more difficulties in the next few years. But destinations that focus on the outdoors will recover very quickly – we’ve seen this before, as spring trips to national beach destinations like Florida and South Carolina are extremely strong and the best luxury hotels are close to full capacity. For the summer, Hawaii is the perfect place for families and honeymooners. Demand has doubled from summer 2019. Yellowstone and Jackson Hole are another popular destination. Do you plan more vacation in the car? Driving vacations will again be in high demand in 2021. Federal testing guidelines make traveling abroad extremely risky, so we believe families who typically travel to Europe will explore domestic destinations. For example, we anticipate that New Yorkers will continue to head to luxury destinations on Cape Cod, Rhode Island and New England. How will traveling itself – from checking in on planes to hotels – be different in 2021? It will be a complex problem that will evolve slowly. Each country, city, state will have different ways of implementing policies. It’s impossible to put all travelers into one category when it comes to tests, passports, or policies that interfere with privacy and freedom. In the United States, attitudes differ regarding the new protocols. In general, everyone welcomes the new sanitation programs and intensified cleanings implemented by the airline industry. But many of our luxury customers would really like to see the plexiglass disappear. As one client who checked into a luxury hotel in Miami put it, “It felt like walking into a bodega.” What technologies are used by industry to keep people safe? Recently, during a visit to the Cliff House in Maine, management highlighted the sensors in the lobby measuring their guests’ temperature during check-in. On a recent visit to the Ocean House in Rhode Island, they highlighted the new HEPA air filters located in each of their rooms. Major hotel brands have also invested in new technologies to disinfect rooms with misters before customers arrive. What is the impact of the vaccine on travel? Since February 1 he has been extremely busy. We have customers calling and saying, “I have the vaccine! Where can I go tomorrow? And in a few days, they fly to Mexico or the Caribbean. We are already seeing the positive impact of vaccines on travel. It may be a bit early to find out if [vaccine] passports will belong in the future, but we are already seeing investments in this type of infrastructure. What type of person calls you to book a vacation? Most of our calls came from parents exhausted from work, homeschooling and lack of family activities like sports. These families book national beach destinations like Florida and South Carolina. Couples without children and with working flexibility extend their usual vacation and work remotely. For example, we had a couple at Belmond Cap Juluca in Anguilla who was originally planned for a seven night stay but eventually left after 15 days. Considering the adverse health consequences of the pandemic, both physical and mental, are you seeing an increased interest in wellness travel? The need for wellness travel has certainly increased, but local guidelines are hampering some of the services that customers need. To insist, most spas have had to limit class sizes or cancel some experiences due to local health guidelines. As these are lifted, we believe we will see a marked increase in trips to spa and fitness hotels. In the meantime, customers are on the lookout for great hiking and biking spots. Finally, what will “luxury” travel mean in a post-pandemic world? For some, this means being able to have the privacy that will help protect their families from Covid; but others crave the exact opposite. They want the freedom to appreciate and explore the human relationships that only travel can bring. This interview has been edited for clarity and length. .



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NRA CEO LaPierre reportedly told travel agent to hide certain stops on his private jet flights | Instant News



A travel consultant who testified in the National Rifle Association bankruptcy case said chief executive Wayne LaPierre asked her to omit certain flight stopovers from invoices she sent to the human rights group. firearms for Mr. LaPierre’s private jet trip, a disclosure that NRA lawyers are disputing. keep out of court record. The travel counselor testified, in a video filing released in bankruptcy court Thursday, that some invoices she sent to the NRA omitted stopovers in Nebraska and the Bahamas, at Mr. LaPierre’s request. Some of Mr. LaPierre’s relatives who frequently traveled on private jets paid for by the NRA live in Nebraska. The NRA chief previously said he travels frequently to the Bahamas to stay for free on a 108-foot yacht in the Bahamas with family members, provided by an NRA vendor, for safety reasons. Testimony that Mr LaPierre sought to hide some private jet stops from the NRA’s own accountants could be evidence that he knew what he was doing was wrong and that he was deliberately hiding it, legal experts have said . “If this is true, it appears to be a clear and documented example of misusing NRA assets and covering up this abuse,” said Elizabeth Kingsley, a Washington nonprofit lawyer. .



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New US Airline Avelo Enters Competitive Travel Market | Instant News



A new airline is launched, bringing more competition to a domestic travel market that has been ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic but has shown signs of recovery in recent months. Avelo Airlines aims to serve smaller airports and routes that big carriers have ignored or left behind. The new airline is expected to operate its first flight at the end of the month, connecting Burbank to Santa Rosa, Calif., And will initially serve 12 airports in the western states. Avelo was designed before the pandemic disrupted the airline industry. After raising $ 125 million from investors in January 2020 – months before air travel came to a virtual halt in the spring – the airline delayed its launch until demand for travel returned. Andrew Levy, managing director of Avelo, said the time is right. The vaccinations sparked a renewed appetite for the holidays. Passenger volumes at U.S. airports are still down 30-40% from pre-pandemic levels, but airports are busier than they have been for more than a year. While public health officials discourage people from taking travel, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week that the risks are low for those who have been fully immunized. The pandemic has forced thousands of businesses across the country to close their doors, but has also created opportunities to open new ones. Entrepreneurs are looking to pounce, as states lift restrictions on business activity, betting that consumers with cash to spend are willing to start spending again. .



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Airline startups want some post-Covid travel | Instant News



The worst crisis in aviation history is not over, but new airlines are already assessing the post-pandemic market. While some are successful, their aggressiveness bodes better for travelers than for investors. The capacity of global airlines is still down 40% from January 2020 and travel restrictions are not decreasing. Many carriers, such as Avianca, Aeroméxico and Norwegian Air Shuttle, remain under administration. Yet startups are pushing to take their place. The latest big announcement was made last month by Norwegian founder and former CEO Bjørn Kjos, who will once again attempt to bring low cost flights to transatlantic routes with a new company, Norse Atlantic Airways. Likewise, Icelandic start-up Play is stepping into the shoes of WOW air, which closed in 2019 after attempting the unorthodox combination of low-cost routes and a hub-based network strategy. Most startups will focus on shorter routes. Traditional hub-and-spoke networks have dwindled during the pandemic and analysts believe they could rule out many regional airports for good. Flybig in India, EGO Airways in Italy and Houston-based Avelo Airlines all plan to fill this gap. .



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Buy airline stocks because the travel recovery is just beginning | Instant News



If you think you’ve missed out on the Great Airline Recovery, Wall Street would like you to think again. Several analysts have voiced bullish views on the sector, saying stocks are still on the rise, despite gaining around 30% this year and rising 91% in the past six months. Of course, the industry is no longer cheap. But vaccine deployments and the end of the pandemic are driving demand. While still urging caution, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says fully vaccinated people can fly at “low risk.” Wall Street, meanwhile, expects air traffic in 2022 to surpass 2019 levels, fueling more gains for an industry that has been one of the biggest winners from the so-called reopening of trade. “A Roaring 20s / Swinging 60s type macro environment can generate significantly higher traffic than the 2019 baseline, in a bullish deal,” writes Morgan Stanley analyst Ravi Shanker. Overall, he sees 30% higher than his price targets on long-rated stocks and 45% longer-term gains, based on consensus estimates from 2023. On Tuesday, Shanker said upgraded the Alaska Air Group (ticker: ALK) to an overweight rating and downgraded United Airlines Holdings (UAL) from underweight to tied. It increased its price targets on JetBlue Airways (JBLU), Delta Air Lines (DAL) and Southwest Airlines (LUV), reiterating the equivalent of purchase ratings. He also launched the American Airlines Group (AAL) cover with an underweight rating. Newsletter sign-up Review and overview Every night of the week, we highlight the resulting market news and explain what matters tomorrow. The trip appears to be taking off in a V-shaped recovery. Domestic passenger traffic hit 1.5 million passengers per day in early April. This compares to 108,000 last April. And it is only 38% lower from April 2019 levels of around 2.4 million daily passengers. Carriers are now adding return flight capacity and staff to handle more bookings for the summer and fall. The industry is also encouraging travel with more lenient cancellation and change fee policies, as well as ongoing efforts to reassure passengers that health security on board aircraft is relatively strong. The bullish equity deal hinges on a recovery in travel faster than consensus estimates. Shanker believes this is happening. Wall Street is now modeling 2022 revenues which are 20% lower than 2019 levels, and available seat miles – a measure of capacity – which are 10% lower. It’s too low, in his opinion. It expects capacity to return to 2019 levels by early 2022, implying a stronger revenue recovery. He also thinks the street is too conservative in modeling 2019 as a baseline for 2023. His analogy: In the 1920s revival of World War I and the Spanish flu, the number of kilometers driven by car has almost doubled in five years. Then, in the 1950s, the volume of commercial airlines increased sixfold after World War II. “While travel is certainly more mature,” he wrote, “we wouldn’t be surprised to see the ‘golden age’ of travel return in the 2020s.” Other reasons for optimism include structurally lower operating costs across the industry and jet fuel prices that remain below 2019 levels, despite a 40% jump from their troughs in the industry. last year. However, other analysts are not so optimistic. Stephen Trent of Citigroup notes that while the travel rebound has arrived, balance sheets have widened and the number of shares of some carriers has jumped since the issuance of shares during the pandemic. Industry may also add return capacity too quickly to meet demand, which puts pressure on fares prices. Trent still sees “attractive advantages” at Delta and United, which are more closely related to a recovery in international and business travel. But he demoted Spirit Airlines (SAVE) to a neutral rating, writing that the stock is now close to being measured at fair value. Bernstein analyst David Vernon reiterated an outperformance rating on Delta, writing that the airline could shift from consuming cash to earnings faster than consensus estimates. He increased his target on Delta shares to $ 64, from $ 61, based on the airline’s “earning power” in 2023. “The international recovery will take longer,” writes Vernon, “ but as we begin to reopen European markets, Delta’s historic strong position in the transatlantic area puts them in good shape to be among the first to participate in a significant international recovery. JetBlue is also trying to inflate some analysts. Raymond James’ Savanthi Syth upgraded the stock to outperform on Wednesday, based on improving booking trends, improving profitability and new revenue drivers, including an alliance with American. She sees the stock hit $ 24, up from recent prices of around $ 21. As for the American, it remains an enigma for several analysts. As the company reports stronger bookings and traffic trends, the stock has jumped 54% this year, well ahead of the industry. The US balance sheet is stressed by debt, and it has diluted its equity to consolidate its cash flow and capital base. Daniel McKenzie of Seaport Global Securities reiterated a neutral rating on the stock last week. “We’ve always liked AAL as a recovery story, but at 6.5x our 2022 Ebitdar outlook, stocks aren’t cheap at current levels,” he wrote, referring to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, depreciation and rent. Investors who do not want to choose sides in these debates can gain exposure to the sector through the US Global Jets ETF (JETS). It was up 1.2% Tuesday to around $ 28 and is up 25% on the year. Write to Daren Fonda at [email protected]



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