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With travel industry updates changing at an unprecedented pace, we've set up a go-to hub for the latest industry news minus the hysteria and fake news.

With travel industry updates changing at an unprecedented pace, we’ve set up a go-to hub for the latest industry news minus the hysteria and fake news.

We’ll be updating this story as news comes to hand so please keep checking back for all you need to know.

Got info or news to share from what you’re experiencing? Please email us at editor@karryon.com.au

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Friday 10 April: Airbnb delivers virtual experiences via Zoom

Guided meditation with sheep in Scotland anyone?

Fancy learning meditation with Buddhist monks in Osaka? Going on a virtual visit with the dogs of Chernobyl? Or perhaps cooking with a family in Morocco?

Airbnb has launched its own transformative virtual ‘Online Experiences’ in what it says is a new way for people to connect, travel virtually and earn income during the COVID-19 crisis.

Read the full story here.

Friday 10 April: Gold Coast airport closed until COVID-19 crisis eases

The Gold Coast Airport at Coolangatta (OOL) has suspended its operations from today due to the suspension of commercial passenger services to the Queensland region.

The airport had been running on skeleton staff since the start of April the start of the month in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The last Qantas and Virgin flights departed OOL yesterday.

The airport has given no re-open date other than to say it will be “when the COVID-19 crisis has eased.”

Thursday 9 April: Virgin Australia suspends all domestic flights bar one

Karry On - Virgin Australia
Paul Scurrah, CEO Virgin Australia

Virgin Australia said on Thursday it would ground all domestic flights from midnight, except for a single daily Sydney-Melbourne service until June 15.

The embattled airline, which is seeking $1.4 billion in government assistance to keep it flying, says domestic demand has dropped further due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

READ: Virgin Australia Launches Anti-Monopoly ‘Let’s Keep The Air Fair’ Campaign

“As a result of government restrictions, less people are travelling and we have made changes to our schedules to reflect this.”

Virgin Australia

Read the full story here.

Thursday 9 April: Stark warning for Tasmanian locals thinking of holidaying from home this Easter

Freycinet, Tasmania
Freycinet, Tasmania

The Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein has announced that there will be “choppers in the sky” with severe warnings and penalties for anyone thinking of breaking self-isolation laws this Easter long weekend.

The announcement comes after reports that numerous Tasmanians have been seen heading north with caravans and camper trailers.

Premier Gutwein said Police would be paying special attention to the north-west coast and that people should not be surprised if they were stopped by police and asked what they were doing.

“Don’t be surprised if you’re at a shack and you get a knock on the door,” he said. If you don’t have a reasonable excuse then you will be asked to leave or you will be summonsed and charged.”

“Our shack communities, our seaside villages are largely retirement villages. We don’t want you travelling there.”

Thursday 9 April: Tonga recovers after Cyclone Harold

Thursday 9 April: Uk prepares for more weeks of lockdown

While people in the UK were hoping to see the end of the official lockdown on April 16, the country yesterday surpassed Italy’s worst day for coronavirus deaths with 938 fatalities in a single day to take the toll past 7000.

It’s now predicted that the lockdown will last a further three weeks, taking the country into May before laws are begun to be eased.

Thursday 9 April: Crystal Closes Australian Office

Karry On - Luxury Travel Intelligence
Crystal Symphony

Crystal Cruises has announced this morning that it will be closing its Australian Office in a bid to “weather this pandemic.”

“These certainly are unprecedented times and it is with deep regret that we announce the closure of Crystal’s Sydney office,” said Karen Christensen, Crystal’s Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Australasia.

“I am so very proud of the team in the Australian office and what we have achieved in just over three years.”

The operational and sales and marketing duties of Crystal’s Sydney office will be transitioned to Genting Cruise Lines’ team in Sydney.

Thursday 9 April: Parliament passes $130 billion JobKeeper payment scheme

The Australian Tourism Industry Council has welcomed the news that the Australian Parliament passed the JobKeeper payment scheme last night.

The Tourism Council commented that the JobKeeper scheme will provide much-needed support to hundreds of thousands of tourism enterprises and their permanent workforce as our industry collectively faces the darkest of times.

Eligible Australian tourism businesses and associated not for profit organisations within the visitor economy to apply for the payment online and if able to register their interest to do so via ato.gov.au

Thursday 9 April: Scenic Group suspends all land tours, river and ocean cruises up to 30 June 2020

Karry On - Scenic

The Scenic Group has announced it will suspend operations for land tours, river and ocean cruises up to 30 June 2020.

To support guests and agent partners Scenic will be providing flexible Future Travel Credit vouchers of up to 110% of the booking value.

The vouchers are valid for travel through to 31 December 2022 and are fully transferable to another person, booking or other brands within the Scenic Group.

Full details of their flexible travel policy are outlined at: www.scenic.com.au/media-centre/coronavirus

Thursday 9 April: NSW police board Ruby Princess to collect evidence

Ruby Princess

NSW Police have confirmed that detectives boarded the Ruby Princess on Wednesday night to collect evidence and question crew about the docking and disembarkation of passengers in Sydney on March 19

“Strike Force Bast investigators are conducting inquiries on-board the Ruby Princess,” the NSW Police said.

“The operation is being conducted under the strictest health and workplace safety guidelines.”

In a press conference, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said investigators who boarded the ship on Wednesday evening had spoken to the ship’s captain who was “extremely helpful”.

Wednesday 8 April: Air New Zealand offers staff specialist support

Karry On - Air New Zealand Auckland New York

Air New Zealand’s Special Assistance Team has been deployed to support the airline’s employees during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The airline’s Special Assistance Team (SAT) is made up of several hundred volunteers from throughout the airline and plays a vital part of Air New Zealand’s response to an emergency event.

The airline is also supporting its staff through its dedicated Wellbeing Hub. The Wellbeing Hub provides information on financial support, managing anxiety, tips for self-isolation, working remotely, and protection from COVID-19.

Staff are also able to access the airline’s Employee Assistance Program which is an independent, professional support service that is available to all employees and their immediate family 24/7.

A digital Wellbeing Check-In tool has also been developed. This sends a notification to all employees, asking about their health and wellbeing and giving them the opportunity to request a wellbeing check-in from the airline’s Wellbeing team or their manager.

Wednesday 8 April: CMV extends cruise operation suspension until 24 May 2020

Cruise & Maritime Voyages is extending its suspension of cruise operations until 24 May 2020.

This will apply to CMV cruises across the globe and affects passengers booked to embark from 24 April – the original suspension cut-off date – until 24 May 2020.

The cruise line’s top and overriding priority is the health and safety of passengers and crew.

As such, all CMV ships have returned or are in the process of returning to their disembarkation home ports in the UK and Germany, with the ongoing repatriation of international passengers as required.

Wednesday 8 April: Coral Expeditions’ all Australian-flagged fleet safely home in Cairns

Coral Expeditions has brought back its four ships to Cairns homeport.

Coral Adventurer returned early from Sulawesi and Coral Discoverer was able to steam from Tasmania to Sydney to disembark guests there.

Coral Expeditions I simply terminated her last Great Barrier Reef trip as per normal in Cairns port.

By March 22nd, all guests across the fleet were back in port on Australian soil with no operational issues and by March 31st, all ships were safely berthed in Cairns and crew home.

Coral Expeditions Commercial Director Jeff Gillies says: “We are in the fortunate position that our ships are small, and therefore our guest numbers limited. As an independent expedition business with a strong and loyal guest base, we feel grateful that we were able to bring our guests home so swiftly.”

Coral Expeditions has cancelled all departures up to 31 May 2020, with all affected guests receiving 100% of existing guest payments applied as a cruise credit towards a future Coral Expeditions voyage. 

Tuesday 7 April: Hurtigruten extends delay on sailings


As a response to the continuing global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Hurtigruten is extending the temporary suspension of operations from pole to pole. “This is a setback for us, for the local communities we work with and for our guests. But the setback is only temporarily,” says Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldamin an official release.

Here’s the latest update.

  • Norwegian coast: Operations will be suspended until 20 May 2020. As of now, the first scheduled round trip departure from Bergen will be on 21 May.  
  • Expedition cruises: All Hurtigruten expedition cruises will be suspended until 12 May. In addition to the previously cancelled cruises, this includes the MS Fridtjof Nansen’s departure from Hamburg on 29 April as well as MS Spitsbergen’s departure from Longyearbyen 6 May.  
  • In addition, Hurtigruten’s Alaska expedition cruise season will be postponed to July due to new travel restrictions from Canadian authorities. This means that the 17 May, 31 May, 12 June, 24 June and 1 July MS Roald Amundsen Alaska departures, unfortunately, will be cancelled. 

Read here for more and the re-booking information you need to know.

Tuesday 7 April: Saudi Government buys into Carnival Corporation


Business Insider is reporting that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund –Public Investment Fund (PIF) has purchased an 8.2% stake in the Carnival Corporation.

The troubled cruise line’s stock plunged 80% in the last year, and the company said last week it will undoubtedly lose money this year.

Carnival raised billions through debt and equity offerings last week as it seeks to stay afloat while business has stopped amid the coronavirus.

Carnival Corporation has more than 100 ships.

Tuesday 7 April: Cathay Pacific Refund Policies Update

Due to the volume of requested refunds received via GDS channels, Cathay Pacific has suspended the GDS ‘Refund Notice’ function effective 06 April 2020 until further notice.

No changes have been made to Cathay Pacific’s RefundPolicies since the outbreak of COVID-19.

You can find the carrier’s Refund Policies in the Special Ticketing Guidelines published on CX Agents and CX.com.

Agents can submit all refund applications via BSPlink.

For any queries, please contact the CX Customer Service Team at aus_agents@cathaypacific.com

Tuesday 7 April: Changi Airport Terminal 2 to suspend operations for 18 months

From May 1, Changi Airport Singapore will suspend Terminal 2 operations for 18 months from May 1.   

Airlines currently operating from Terminal 2 will be relocated to the airport’s other three terminals.

The suspension of operations would allow airport operator Changi Airport Group along with retailers, airlines and ground handling firms – to save on running costs during this time. 

Tuesday 7 April: New COVID-19 support team to help WA tourism industry

Karry On - Western Australia
Bungle Bungle Guided Tour

A special team has been established at Tourism Western Australia to offer support to members of the tourism industry during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The Industry Support Team was developed with key industry partners and will offer support and information to WA tourism industry operators from people who understand the tourism industry.

The new team includes members of Tourism WA’s stakeholder relations, public relations, markets, and destination development groups.

From next Monday, the support team will begin calling thousands of Western Australian tourism operators to check how they are coping, help them navigate the various State and Federal assistance packages, and offer a friendly voice to talk through recovery ideas for when the time is right.

These conversations will allow the State Government, through Tourism WA, to be informed of existing or emerging issues that may help guide possible future support or recovery initiatives.

Monday 6 April: Guy Sebastian gives shout out to MTA

It was just last month that Guy Sebastian performed at MTA’s 20th-anniversary conference on the Gold Coast.

How different the world was then.

In a touching move, Guy has made a special video for MTA Agents to let them know he is thinking of them during these trying times for the travel industry.

You can watch his kind message to the agents above.

Monday 6 April: Flight Centre announce next phase of contingency plan

Flight Centre Bangaroo
Flight Centre Bangaroo

In a number of announcements to the ASX this morning, FCTG shared details of a comprehensive package of initiatives that have been designed to “strengthen the company’s balance sheet and liquidity and help them navigate these uncertain times globally.”

The package includes an AU$700 million equity raising plan, an AU$200 million increase from existing lenders and confirmation that previously announced cost reductions will ensure savings of AU$1.9 billion annually.

The group has also announced that it will close 800 or 50% of its retail leisure stores globally.

Read all the details here.

Monday 6 April: Criminal Investigation launched into Ruby Princess

Ruby Princess

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller confirmed over the weekend that a criminal investigation will be launched into the conduct of Carnival Australia around the Ruby Princess cruise ship and its docking in Sydney last month.

10 per cent of COVID-19 cases in Australia are now linked to passenngers on the cruise ship.

The investigation will look at why 2,700 passengers were able to freely disembark the ship when there were passengers on board reporting flu-like symptoms.

Monday 6 April: Dubai’s hotels light up with hearts during the pandemic

Dubai’s hotels are lighting up the sky with glowing hearts, to offer a positive message during this challenging time.

On Friday, hotels across Dubai stood in solidarity to show their commitment to battling the health pandemic.

Joining a global initiative, the city’s hotels turned off their room lights and illuminated windows on their facades to create the symbol of love – with the aim to inspire hope through a simple, yet powerful, visual communication.

Monday 6 April: LATAM reduces operations by 95%

Karry On - LATAM Delta

LATAM has announced a 95 per cent reduction in operations during April 2020, in light of border closures and lower demand.

Measures will be evaluated on an ongoing basis based on travel restrictions of different countries as well as demand.

Passenger operations during April, 2020

Domestic flights:

  • In Brazil, LATAM Airlines Brazil will continue flying to 39 destinations with reduced frequencies, connecting its São Paulo (Guarulhos and Congonhas), Brasília and Fortaleza hubs
  • In Chile, LATAM Airlines Group will maintain reduced frequencies to 13 of its 16 destinations, temporarily suspending flights to Rapa Nui, Castro and Osorno
  • The operations of LATAM’s affiliates in Peru, Argentina, Colombia and Ecuador remain suspended due to national government restrictions 

International flights:

  • LATAM Airlines Group and LATAM Airlines Brazil will operate limited frequencies respectively between Santiago/SCL and São Paulo/GRU, from Santiago to Miami and Los Angeles, as well as from São Paulo to Miami and New York