Breaking News
Get Actionable Insights with InvestingPro+: Start 7 Day FREE Trial Register here
Investing Pro 0
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your experience. Save up to 40% More details

Analysis-Marooned: Risk of catching Omicron abroad delays airline recovery

Stock MarketsJan 14, 2022 09:46AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A United States-bound passenger walks in Toronto Pearson Airport's Terminal 3, days before new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing protocols to enter the U.S. come into effect, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada December 3, 2021. REUTERS/Chris He

By Jamie Freed and Alexander Cornwell

SYDNEY/ABU DHABI (Reuters) -Before the Omicron variant of coronavirus burst onto the scene in November, retired Australian Glenn Turnley was looking forward to a three-week trip to Japan, Britain and France in March - his first overseas jaunt since the pandemic began.

Even though he is fully vaccinated and boosted, Turnley says the high transmissibility of Omicron means he is likely to cancel - even if Japan opens its borders to foreigners.

"I was worried less with Delta because the vaccines that were available, they seemed to be doing the trick," he said.

"I don't want to spend any part of a holiday in quarantine or anything like that anywhere, especially in a foreign country."

While the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 infection is potentially less severe, for many airlines it is proving as disruptive as the Delta variant and has dampened the first quarter outlook.

Its high transmissibility has led to tighter border rules in many countries and heightened the risk of even fully vaccinated travellers testing positive after they arrive and then being stranded at the destination for weeks, denting confidence.

"Clearly there are uncertainties so if you catch COVID you may get stuck in a country which is quite unpredictable to you," said Jozsef Varadi, chief executive of European low-cost airline Wizz Air, which also operates in Abu Dhabi.

"So I don't think that demand is fully back but we are certainly seeing some people who might be prepared to take more risk in life in general coming back to travel."

Omicron's speed of spread leading to staff shortages and shortened COVID-19 test timeframes makes it a major concern, said Olivier Ponti, vice president of insights at travel trends firm ForwardKeys.

ForwardKeys data shows international flight bookings are running at 38% of 2019 levels, well below an October peak of 58%, though up from an early December low.


Even people willing to take the risk of travelling as Omicron spreads face hurdles from fast-changing rules.

Brisbane-based business development executive Greg Lauer said he and three colleagues were planning to visit his firm's headquarters in Hyderabad, India, next week, having booked in mid-December.

Two pulled out nearly immediately over the Omicron risks, though he and another colleague were willing to continue.

"The biggest risk was getting stuck," Lauer said. "I have comprehensive insurance and am vaxxed and boosted."

But then India last week reintroduced mandatory quarantine for foreign arrivals, so he cancelled the trip.

A recent survey of U.S. travellers by broker Jefferies found Omicron had led 20% Of respondents to cancel plans due to case counts and another 20% due to restrictions at the destination.

Omicron also poses a threat to recovery in the lucrative business travel segment. Major companies are further delaying the return to offices and some big events like the World Economic Forum in Davos have been postponed.

"The impact from Omicron for the first quarter is significant and in some markets more significant than the impact from Delta," said Singapore-based analyst Brendan Sobie.


Even where demand exists, serving it has become harder.

Airlines from the United States, Australia and Finland are among those struggling to find enough crew to staff flights given that so many are infected or isolating as close contacts of COVID-19 cases.

Global carriers this week slashed capacity by 7.2%, one of the largest week-on-week drops in the last six months, travel data firm OAGs said. That includes a 44% cut at Europe's Ryanair and 17% at Lufthansa.

"International ticket sales made in December and early January fell sharply compared to 2019, suggesting a more difficult first quarter than had been expected," International Air Transport Association Director General Willie Walsh said.

Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) Chief Executive Ed Bastian said international bookings had "paused" due to border restrictions but he expected a strong spring and summer on trans-Atlantic routes once rules eased due to pent-up demand.

In a potential positive over the medium term, the huge wave of Omicron cases globally has spurred some hopes that COVID-19 could be on its way to becoming endemic like the flu, which did not complicate international travel.

Yet for now, travellers will have to weigh the risks of each trip, said Irene Lai, global medical director at International SOS, which advises companies on health and security.

"Travel is just very complicated," said Sydney-based Lai, who does not plan to take overseas holidays until at least 2023.

"We see this all the time: that a country's entry requirements can just change with no notice," she said. "So potentially you can get stuck."

Analysis-Marooned: Risk of catching Omicron abroad delays airline recovery

Related Articles

Airbus to create own airline to rent out whale plane
Airbus to create own airline to rent out whale plane By Reuters - Jan 25, 2022

By Tim Hepher PARIS (Reuters) - Airbus plans to charter out its whale-shaped Beluga transport planes - whose main job until now has been to ferry aircraft parts between its plants...

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Comments (1)
Erski Gumby
SB20 Jan 14, 2022 2:03AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email