Here’s what you do with two-thirds of the world’s jets when they can’t fly

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Just finding space to park can be a problem, and idle planes require a surprising amount of work, from maintaining hydraulics to stopping birds from nesting.

The skies are eerily empty these days, presenting a new challenge for the world’s embattled airlines as they work to safeguard thousands of grounded planes parked wingtip to wingtip on runways and in storage facilities.

More than 16,000 passenger jets are grounded worldwide, according to industry researcher Cirium, as the coronavirus obliterates travel and puts unprecedented strain on airline finances. Finding the right space and conditions for 62% of the world’s planes and keeping them airworthy have suddenly become priorities for 2020.

Aircraft can’t simply be dusted back into action. They need plenty of work and attention while in storage, from maintenance of hydraulics and flight-control systems to protection against insects and wildlife — nesting birds can be a problem. Then there’s humidity, which can corrode parts and damage interiors. Even when parked on runways, planes are often loaded with fuel to keep them from rocking in the wind and to ensure tanks stay lubricated.

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Latest survey shows 1 in 5 Americans won’t travel again until 2021- Representing extreme concern for already struggling airline industry

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Upgraded points is a trusted source for a wide variety of similar in-depth airline studies, as well as advice and pointers for travelers.

Upgraded Points recently released its newest targeted study featuring a survey based on questions given to airline travelers concerning the recent global pandemic. The study seeks to understand American travelers’ plans and concerns, helping to better illuminate the travel crisis as it unfolds; while also delivering important data about the American airline industry itself – which recently asked for and will receive a reported $50 billion bailout from the U.S. government. Upgraded points is a trusted source for a wide variety of similar in-depth airline studies, as well as advice and pointers for travelers.

“The airline industry is in a great deal of trouble again,” said Alex Miller, founder of Upgraded Points. “They’ve certainly seen their share of difficulty over the years: after 9/11, during the 2008 economic downturn, etc. But this is probably the worst crisis the industry has ever faced. Without millions of travelers on planes and in airports, the industry just can’t make the revenue it needs to survive. Whole countries are asking citizens to stay indoors, and that includes enforcing travel restrictions and closing borders. No one knows exactly when this global pandemic will peak and then begin to recede. So all we can do now is wait, and gather valuable data to help understand the situation as it happens. That is the goal of this particular study.”

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The rich are scrambling to escape COVID-19 on private jets

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As air travel becomes more restrictive around the globe, the ultra-wealthy are becoming more desperate to get to where they want to be for the crisis.

Small countries are taking extreme measures to halt international travel in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. Those accustomed to private jet travel are used to demanding what they want and getting it. As a result, private jet flights escaping from and running to resort countries, such as those in the Caribbean, are currently in high demand—and they do not always occur under the most lawful of circumstances.

The most wealthy among us are trying to get around flight bans with private jet flights as they are desperate to get into or home from Caribbean countries, many of which have partial or full international travel bans. Those with complete bans include Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Trinidad and Tobago, Columbia, Panama, Costa Rica, and Ecuador. Partial international travel bans are in effect for Belize, Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Antigua and Barbados, Saint Lucia, Grenada, and Venezuela. These countries are home to many affluent expatriates. The money some of them spend on private jet flights is staggering. One round trip to Europe in a Gulfstream 550 jet from the United States with five passengers can easily cost the client six figures.

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WTTC says 50 million tourism jobs are at stake

Empty St. Mark's square in the morning in Venice

The World Travel & Tourism Council on Friday said up to 50 million jobs in travel and tourism are at risk from the Covid‐19 pandemic, and WTTC called for measures to be taken to ensure a swift recovery.

The organization also joined fellow travel groups in condemning the President Donald Trump’s ban on most travel from Europe to the U.S., saying it will damage the U.S. economy but isn’t likely to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“We all share the priority to stop the spread and should take all necessary actions,” WTTC CEO Gloria Guevara said in a statement. “However, the new travel ban will have a dangerous economic impact on the U.S. and many other countries, and there is little evidence to show this will stop the spread of Covid‐19.”

Guevara suggested that rather than an outright ban, “the priority should be on public health within the country and mitigating the potential harm to individuals.”

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The most powerful passports in the world in 2020, ranked

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Singapore, which ranked as the second-best place to hold a passport from in 2020, tied for first place last year.

The Henley Passport Index, an annual ranking of the most powerful passports in the world based on how many destinations the holder can enter without a visa, was just released.

Japan secured the top spot this year, with access to 191 countries and territories, a position it previously shared with Singapore.

Asia dominated the list, with Singapore landing in the No. 2 spot and South Korea tying with Germany for No. 3.

A US passport provides access to 183 destinations in 2020, giving it an eighth-place ranking. Passports from 16 other countries provide better access than the US. The country is also slipping in rank – last year it placed sixth.

A passport from Japan opens more doors than a passport from anywhere else in the world, according to the newly released Henley Passport Index.

The index is an annual power ranking of passports determined by the number of destinations a passport holder can enter without a visa.

A Japanese passport promises uncomplicated travel to 191 other countries and territories. In 2019, the passport promised access to 189 places and tied with Singapore’s passport as the world’s most desirable travel document.

Singapore maintained access to 189 destinations and placed second this year, followed closely by South Korea and Germany with access to 187 countries and territories.

Passports from countries like Canada, the UK, and the US all slipped in the rankings from 2019 to 2020 – but they are still desirable, with access to more than 180 destinations. For comparison, passports from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria offer access to fewer than 30 places.

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How Google has become the biggest travel company

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For decades travel agents had a “lock” on vacations. Before the internet it was near impossible to find cheap fares yourself. And choosing the perfect hotel involved a lot of flicking through glossy brochures.

The “do it yourself” approach was a huge hassle. It was a lot easier to hire a knowledgeable travel agent. Then disruptor stocks like Booking.com (BKNG) and Expedia (EXPE) blew up the old model forever. With a few clicks, you could compare any flight or hotel in the world.

For the first time ever, you could find all the special deals and hidden gems only travel agents knew about. Meanwhile Priceline (now Booking.com) has made investors rich. Its stock shot up 25,000% in two decades, as you can see here:

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New airplane seat design will make it easier to sleep in economy

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London, UK (CNN) — Who hasn’t struggled to sleep on an airplane economy seat, forced to improvise a makeshift pillow out of a rolled up sweater or scarf?

A new seat design comes with an innovative solution to this inflight issue, using “padded wings” that fold out from behind both sides of the seat back — allowing both for additional privacy and a cushioned spot to rest heads for some shut-eye.

This new idea from Universal Movement, a spin-off from London-based design company New Territory, is called “Interspace.” It premiered in London this week as part of the Aircraft Cabin Innovation summit 2019.

CNN Travel went along to find out more about what makes this seat different, and to test out just how comfy this concept really is.

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London to Sydney flight breaks world record

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Sydney (CNN) — Until someone invents a device to teleport humans from one side of the Earth to the other, this is the next best thing.

An experimental research flight operated by Australian airline Qantas touched down in Sydney on Friday, after flying nonstop from London — a journey that pushes the frontier of modern aircraft capabilities — smashing two aviation records and witnessing a rare double sunrise along the way.

Flight QF7879 became the world’s longest passenger flight by a commercial airline both for distance, at 17,800 kilometers (about 11,060 miles), and for duration in the air, at 19 hours and 19 minutes.

The achievement could help usher in a new generation of so-called ultra long haul flights that will directly connect far-flung Sydney with destinations across Europe and the United States.

The 50 or so people onboard departed London’s Heathrow on Thursday in the pitch dark of pre-dawn, having sucked down their last lungfuls of rain-drenched November air.

Two sunrises later, they emerged blinking into a bright, warm Friday afternoon on the east coast of Australia. At least three whole hours sooner than if they’d had to change aircraft en route.

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In-flight seatback screens may be going extinct

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U.S. carriers are split on whether single-aisle fleets need seatback screens. Consumer tastes are changing as in-flight Wi-Fi quality improves.

In the quest to command higher fares and traveler loyalty, airlines are constantly scrambling to market their onboard services as better than Brand X. These days, one highly visible battleground is directly in front of you: the seatback screen.

While such displays are firmly entrenched aboard long-haul fleets, helping pass the hours during ocean crossings, there’s a deep difference of opinion among U.S. carriers when it comes to domestic single-aisle jets. The advent of onboard Wi-Fi has given airlines the option of using your phone or tablet as a portal for films, television shows, and video games, avoiding the expense of costly hardware at every seat.

Three of the largest U.S. airlines — American Airlines Group Inc., United Airlines Holdings Inc., and Alaska Air Group Inc. — are removing screens from their domestic workhorses, the family of medium-range 737 and A320 aircraft sold by Boeing Co. and Airbus SE, respectively. Southwest Airlines Co. has never equipped its Boeing 737s with screens and said it has no plans to change course.

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The mega rich are having trouble finding pilots for private jets

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Empty Cockpit

Bad news for the extremely wealthy: airplane pilots are abandoning their gigs flying private jets for more steady work at commercial airlines.

Pilots seem to be attracted to steady jobs that provide regular pay rather than the hourly wages and short notice that come with captaining some rich folks’ private planes, according to The Independent. The result is a labor shortage that’s not only keeping the wealthy grounded but hurting private jet sales as well.

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How selling citizenship is now big business

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Buying and selling citizenship is now a global industry worth an estimated $25bn a year

You can be born into it, you can earn it, and you can lose it. Increasingly, you can also invest your way into it.

The “it” is citizenship of a particular country, and it is a more fluid concept than ever before. Go back 50 years, and it was uncommon for countries to allow dual citizenship, but it is now almost universal.

More than half of the world’s nations now have citizenship-through-investment programmes. According to one expert, Swiss lawyer Christian Kalin, it is now a global industry worth $25bn (£20bn) a year.

Mr Kalin, who has been dubbed “Mr Passport”, is the chairman of Henley & Partners, one of the world’s biggest players in this rapidly growing market. His global business helps wealthy individuals and their families acquire residency or citizenship in other countries.

He says that our traditional notions of citizenship are “outdated”. “This is one of the few things left in the world that is tied to blood lines, or where you are born,” he says. He argues that a rethink is very much due.

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Gatwick Airport commits to facial recognition tech at boarding

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Gatwick first trialled facial-recognition-based checks at some of its departure gates last year

Gatwick has become the UK’s first airport to confirm it will use facial-recognition cameras on a permanent basis for ID checks before passengers board planes.

It follows a self-boarding trial carried out in partnership with EasyJet last year.

The London airport said the technology should reduce queuing times but travellers would still need to carry passports.

Privacy campaigners are concerned.

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