Bits and BobsWrapping up news from around the globe this week.

New solution for airlines to share health information

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Health Protect can integrate with multiple travel pass schemes including AOK, CommonPass, IATA and SimplyGo.
Health Protect can integrate with multiple travel pass schemes including AOK, CommonPass, IATA and SimplyGo.

Airport technology firm SITA has launched Health Protect, an industry solution to help airlines, airports, governments, and passengers safely and securely share information on health tests or vaccinations needed during travel.

A key benefit of this solution is its ability to integrate with multiple travel pass schemes including AOK, CommonPass, IATA and SimplyGo.

SITA says its Health Protect technology has potential to “bridge the gap between airlines resuming normal operations and governments’ strong focus on keeping control of COVID-19,” said David Lavorel, SITA CEO of airports and borders.

Successful trials have already been undertaken with travellers to the UAE, and soon to start at Milan Malpensa Airport, according to SITA.

Tucan Travel shuts up shop ‘with a heavy heart’

UK and Australian-owned adventure tour operator Tucan travel has collapsed and is set for administration.

A message on the company’s website explained that Tucan Travel had tried to “support people and balance their needs” during the pandemic .

The statement went on: “During this time we had to make difficult decisions to keep the company alive including many staff redundancies, most of whom are loyal long-serving staff with families to support. Unfortunately, this now extends to all staff.

“With client's welfare and best interests at the forefront, Tucan Travel took the decision early in March 2020 to suspend tour operations.

“There has been no satisfactory solution for tour operators to be able to address the number of clients wishing to receive immediate full refunds. The reason for this is that tour operators effectively coordinate airlines, hotels and local services such as guides, permits and transportation for groups of clients.

“Tour operators are required to pay in advance to secure these services on behalf of their clients; many of these service contracts are non-refundable or non-transferrable.

“In addition, many of the smaller overseas hotels and service providers that specialist tour operators support are in an even worse situation, they simply do not have the resources to repay what is owed to tour operators until they are able to reopen their business and earn money again.

“So, with a heavy heart, the decision was taken in the best interests of everyone concerned to place the company into administration.”

The company has specialised in adventure travel since 1987, offering more than 400 escorted group tours and tailor-made trips in over 70 countries.

Intrepid steps in to help those in need

Machu Picchu, Peru.
Machu Picchu, Peru. Photo Credit: peru.travel

Intrepid Travel’s philanthropic arm, The Intrepid Foundation, has donated more than A$20,000 (US$15,209) worth of food parcels to 356 families in Peru’s Sacred Valley.

The meals will help to feed more than 1,700 people, many who are cooks and porters whose livelihoods have been directly impacted by the lack of tourism due to the ongoing global health crisis.

The Intrepid Foundation worked locally with the NGO MEDLIFE, who supports low-income communities in Latin America with access to medicine, education, and food aid.

In addition to their work in Peru, the Covid-19 appeal is supporting projects that include women’s education in Morocco and food security in Nepal.

Cargo carries SIA during pandemic crunch
For the quarter ended 31 Dec. 2020, the Singapore Group reported a net loss of S$142 million (US$106 million) , a deterioration of S$457 million against last year.

The airline said this was primarily driven by the weaker operating performance, although a stronger cargo performance helped offset revenue loss from the pandemic-led collapse in passenger travel demand.

The group’s airlines — comprising SIA, regional unit SilkAir, as well as low-cost subsidiary Scoot carried just 195,000 passengers for the quarter, which was 98% lower year on year.

Group traffic, as measured in RPKs, was also down 98% on a capacity cut of 86%.

The SIA figures came after airlines suffered the worst traffic decline in aviation history during 2020 and forward bookings suggest the first quarter of 2021 might not bring a marked improvement.

IATA chief economist Brian Pearce said demand volume for the full year could end up rising only 13% to 38% of pre-crisis levels if new coronavirus mutations continue to spread.

Kuwait hotel investors sell off Melbourne hotel portfolio

Kuwaiti-owned Action Hotels Group is selling its three Melbourne properties, including Novotel Melbourne South Wharf (pictured).
Kuwaiti-owned Action Hotels Group is selling its three Melbourne properties, including Novotel Melbourne South Wharf (pictured).

Hotels in Melbourne – like everywhere else – are struggling during the Covid pandemic but that has not stopped Kuwaiti-owned Action Hotels Group from listing for sale its three Melbourne properties for sale.

Action Hotel’s Melbourne portfolio comprises Accor-managed assets, Novotel Melbourne South Wharf, adjacent to the Melbourne Convention Centre, ibis hotel and ibis Budget hotel.

Selling agent CBRE’s Wayne Bunz noted, “Australia is currently viewed as a safe haven for international investors, underpinned by how well we’ve handled the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Australia is expected to be a key beneficiary of inbound capital once borders reopen, with investors seeking to capitalise on a market rebound and Melbourne regaining its position as the country’s events’ capital.”

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