Trump ban on travel from Europe escalates pain for airlines

AP – United States (US) President Donald Trump’s decision on Wednesday to impose a 30-day ban on most Europeans entering the US is the latest stunning setback for an airline industry that is reeling from a drop in bookings and a surge in people who are canceling reservations for fear of contracting the coronavirus.

The ban, to begin at midnight Friday, won’t apply to Americans trying to return home — though they will be subject to “enhanced” health screening — or to citizens of the United Kingdom (UK). But Trump’s move is sure to drastically escalate the disruptions facing global airlines and travellers on some of the most heavily travelled routes.

The disruption to air travel is also certain to ripple through economies, causing widespread damage to hotels, car rental companies, museums and restaurants.

In his address from the Oval Office, Trump said US restrictions on people coming from China and other countries with early outbreaks of COVID-19 had held down the number of cases in the United States compared with Europe. He blamed the European Union (EU) for failing to immediately stop travel from China “and other hot spots”, which he said had led to clusters of outbreaks in the US being “seeded by travellers from Europe”.

“After consulting with our top government health professionals,” Trump said, “I have decided to take several strong but necessary actions to protect the health and well-being of all Americans. To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the US for the next 30 days.”