COVID-19 Update: Another zero case day in Hubei province; Dufry closes in Melbourne and Perth; Hainan travel retail’s sole hotspot; Global cases soar past 665,000 – The Moodie Davitt Report

COVID-19 Update: Another zero case day in Hubei province; Dufry closes in Melbourne and Perth; Hainan travel retail’s sole hotspot; Global cases soar past 665,000 - The Moodie Davitt Report


From today, we start each day’s update with the message from DFS Group when the retailer reopened its stores in Macau on 20 February after a 13-day closure.

Published in Chinese, it translates as:

No winter can’t be passed
No spring will not come


The confirmed case toll surges past 665,000. Our last chart published yesterday saw it at 602,262. Source: Johns Hopkins University. Click to enlarge and here for a safe link to a constantly updated country-by-country count.


With the Hubei province outbreak now under apparent control, the Chinese authorities are working overtime to restrict the number of cases imported from overseas, with strict multiple health checks in place at the country’s borders. Source: National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China (Click to enlarge)

China is building a ‘fortress’ to ensure that new cases of COVID-19 are not brought in from overseas, writes Sky News Asia correspondent Tom Cheshire from Dalian today. It’s an excellent piece (click here to read) that underlines the strict – but vital and highly effective – measures being taken by China to eradicate a feared second wave of cases brought in from abroad.

Sky News Asia correspondent Tom Cheshire reports on the strict but vital measures being taken within China to stop COVID-19 being imported from overseas. Click here to read.

How long such measures will remain in place is uncertain but one thing is for sure – any early recovery in Chinese travel will be dominated by intra-Chinese travel.

Speaking on Friday during an OAG webinar, Institute for Aviation Research Professor Zheng Lei said: “Recently, airline [domestic] traffic has picked up. China Southern now has a 60% load factor on average so that is an improvement. The latest data from Hainan Airlines shows an average load factor of 62% on 254 flights on 21 March.

“With the coronavirus coming under control, airlines are gradually resuming their traffic. That is what we are seeing in China. Consumer confidence hasn’t fully come back yet and will take a while to get back to normal. But airlines have done a great job to reassure travellers with regular cleaning of aircraft, for example.”

For the travel retail sector that means only one thing. Focus on Hainan and the resort island’s lucrative offshore duty free industry. As reported, Hainan’s provincial government this month announced a CNY150 million (US$21.2 million) rejuvenation plan for the island’s beleaguered tourism industry with duty free shopping at the heart of its plans.

Click here for our latest analysis.

South Korea

Better news from South Korea with just 105 confirmed new cases, down from 146 the previous day. But the trend continues to fluctuate. Source: Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Click to enlarge.


Dufry will close its stores at Melbourne and Perth airports from midnight tonight (28/3/2020) until further notice. The decision was inevitable after the recent Federal Government announcements that 1) from 9pm AEDT 20 March, only Australian citizens, residents and immediate family members could travel to Australia; 2) From 12:00pm 25 March 2020 all Australian citizens and permanent residents would be prohibited to travel out of Australia unless exempted.


Here again, courtesy of The Moodie Davitt Report Fashion, Beauty & Social Media Editor Hannah Tan-Gillies, is a timely video summary of the kindness and compassion that is pouring from our industry’s collective heart during these darkest of times.

The frightening pace of a pandemic: As the case total soars above 600,000 worldwide, it is profoundly sobering to compare the same graphic from just two weeks ago. Click to enlarge and here for a safe link to a constantly updated country-by-country count. Source: Johns Hopkins University

South Korea

Another worrying spike (above) in South Korea over the previous numbers (below) has authorities maintaining strict controls. Importantly though, officials say that for the first time it has more people who have recovered than are infected. Source: Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Click to enlarge.

Latin America

Show of solidarity: South American duty free association ASUTIL delivers a timely, perfectly pitched message of hope to partners in the region and around the world, which we will feature across our titles in the days and weeks ahead. Be ready to seize the opportunities of a very different world tomorrow, but most importantly for now, stay at home and stay healthy today.


Figures that everyone in the Chinese travel retail sector will be watching. With the Hubei province outbreak now firmly under control, all eyes are on the nationwide toll. With the temporary closing of international flights, China has shown its determination to stop the recent spike in imported cases. Source: National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China (Click to enlarge)


Flight analyst OAG has highlighted the early recovery of the Chinese aviation market as capacity returns and load factors increase. Details emerged during an OAG webinar that outlined the latest capacity reductions among the world’s airlines in recent days.

Click here for the full story.

Here, courtesy of The Moodie Davitt Report Fashion, Beauty & Social Media Editor Hannah Tan-Gillies, is a video summary of the kindness and compassion that is pouring from our industry’s collective heart during these darkest of times.

On a grim day for aviation, tourism and travel retail (and The Moodie Davitt Report), it is worth remembering the message from DFS Group when the retailer reopened its stores in Macau on 20 February after a 13-day closure. Published in Chinese, it translates as:

No winter can’t be passed
No spring will not come


AGS Airports, operator of Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports, this afternoon announced further restrictions to its operations. Chief Executive Derek Provan said: “With many of our airline partners having completed their repatriation flights and in line with passenger demand, there are now only a limited number of services available from the AGS group of airports. In light of this and to protect the health and wellbeing of all the staff who work so hard to keep our airports running, we will be introducing temporary restrictions on our operations from 1 April.

“To support our country’s response to this accelerating pandemic, Aberdeen and Glasgow airports will continue to support essential services. These will include lifeline links to remote communities in the Highlands and Islands, NHS and air ambulance services, and helicopters for the oil and gas industry. Southampton Airport will similarly support lifeline services to the Channel Islands. Our airports will also cater for those airlines who are continuing to operate. At this stage, it is difficult to say how long these measures will remain in place, however, we will continue to follow all government advice and keep them under constant review.

“We are facing extremely challenging times and like all organisations, we have a duty of care to our staff, our business partners and to all those who use our airports. Introducing temporary operating restrictions will allow us to significantly reduce the number of staff who must travel to work.

“Alongside this, we are working with our people and their trade union representatives to ensure those employees who will be furloughed during this period will have access to the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. We have also proposed other measures to support the business at this time including temporary pay cuts for all staff including our Board and leadership team, an end to bonus payments, the option for staff to take unpaid leave and the option for reduced working hours.”


Gatwick Airport will consolidate its operations into the South Terminal and limit the operating hours for its runway for the entirety of April.

The London airport said the temporary closure of the North Terminal and the decision to limit scheduled flights on its runway to between 2pm and 10pm every day for the month had been made to protect passengers and staff.

Gatwick Airport Chief Executive Stewart Wingate said: “Gatwick is a resilient but also responsible business and during these extraordinary times we need to take unprecedented measures to protect the health and wellbeing of our staff and passengers, while also shielding the business from the impact of the coronavirus.”

The decision to scale back the airport’s operations will be kept under regular review and could be extended beyond the initial one-month period.

New Zealand

Auckland Airport has told travellers to stock up on necessities before travelling to the airport as most retail and F&B outlets in the airport have closed.

New Zealand this week escalated the COVID-19 alert system from Level 3 to Level 4, which means that many retail stores, cafes and restaurants across the country have had to close. Of the 100-plus retail and F&B outlets usually open at the country’s busiest airport, only a convenience store, juicer F&B outlet and pharmacy shop are currently open.

Read the full story here


ACI World Director General Angela Gittens has called for urgent financial relief measures to protect the more than 6.1 million people employed by airports globally either directly or indirectly. State aid should be “non-discriminatory and not benefit one actor at the expense of another actor in the aviation ecosystem”, however, she says.

Click here for the full story and details of the measures ACI World is urging governments to consider.


The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) says that between five and seven years’ worth of tourism growth will be lost to COVID-19, based on its latest estimates.

The organisation today released its updated assessment of the impact, saying that 2020 international tourist arrivals will be down by -20% to -30% compared with 2019 figures.

Full story here.


The BBC breaks the shock news that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for COVID-19 infection


Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is scaling down activity and transitioning to what it terms ‘Core Schiphol’ after a -90% reduction in passenger traffic in recent days, and with flight numbers at 25% of their usual level.

From today, check-in will be limited to Departures Lounges 2 and 3, with security screening and passport control at Departures 2.

Some shops remain open to service the limited traffic. Most F&B outlets have been closed since 15 March (until at least 6 April) with kiosks, Grab & Fly counters and some cafés still functioning.

The COVID-19 tally races past 530,000 cases. The US has now experienced more infections than China. Chart courtesy of Johns Hopkins University (Click to enlarge or here for a safe link to the constantly updated country-by-country count)

South Korea

Once the worst-hit country outside China, South Korea has managed the crisis with remarkable effectiveness. Source: Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Click to enlarge.

Click here for details of the 30-second ‘Clap for our Carers – Travel Retail ’ global initiative on Tuesday 31 March (#ClapforourCarersTravelRetail)


In a concerted effort to halt the import of COVID-19 cases from overseas, China is to suspend entry for foreign nationals from 28 March. As reported, while the situation in China has eased, the number of cases brought in from other countries is a big concern for the Chinese authorities.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Immigration Administration said in a statement this evening: “In view of the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the world, China has decided to temporarily suspend the entry into China by foreign nationals holding visas or residence permits still valid to the time of this announcement, effective from 00.00 on 28 March.

“The suspension is a temporary measure that China is compelled to take in light of the outbreak situation and the practices of other countries. China will stay in close touch with all sides and properly handle personnel exchanges with the rest of the world under the special circumstances. The above-mentioned measures will be calibrated in light of the evolving situation and announced accordingly.”

The restrictions include port visas, transit visas and covers foreign nationals with APEC Business Travel Cards. Other groups affected will include those who avail of the Hainan 30-day visa-free policy, the 15-day visa-free policy for foreign cruise group tours through Shanghai Port, the Guangdong 144-hour visa-free policy for groups from Hong Kong or Macau and the Guangxi 15-day visa-free policy for tour groups from ASEAN countries.


Miami International Airport has temporarily closed its Concourse G in response to reduced passenger traffic caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. The move affects Bahamasair, Frontier and United Airlines, whose flights are being moved to concourses E, F, H and J. In addition, Concourse E is opening from 1pm daily.

Some airport, shops and restaurants have temporarily closed or changed their hours of operation. Among the retail closures are Duty Free Americas’ core category stores and some boutiques, along with the 10,000sq ft multi-category concept The Shoppes at Ocean Drive.

In F&B, standalone bars have been closed until further notice. Other dining locations and airline lounges are restricted to 50% capacity, and social distancing measures have been implemented.

The Miami-Dade Aviation Department said that concession services remain available for all scheduled flights.


The Thai government has declared a state of emergency until 30 April, closed border crossings and banned the entry of foreigners except those with diplomatic status and with work permits.

As reported, King Power International’s flagship location King Power Rangnam, one of Asia’s and the world’s most important duty free doors, closed on 22 March in line with a government edict that ordered the temporary closure of all shopping centres, entertainment venues and markets. The travel retailer’s other Bangkok store, King Power Srivaree, was already shut temporarily.


The Eurasian Duty Free Association has appealed for support from the Russian government, with international air travel set to cease from midnight to stop the spread of COVID-19, as reported below.

The latest measures follow a shutdown of frontier crossings, which prompted duty free border shop closures from 23 March. Now, said the association, all duty free shops in the country will close by tomorrow (27 March).

For the full story, click here.


The China Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC) today instructed airlines to sharply cut international schedules to combat the outbreak of COVID-19. While the situation in China has eased, the number of cases imported from overseas is a big concern for the Chinese authorities.

The CAAC said that, from 29 March, each Chinese airline is only allowed to maintain one route to any country with no more than one flight per week. Foreign airlines are only allowed to maintain one route to China with no more than one weekly flight.

Under the guidelines, flights can have load factors of no more than 75%.

Asia Pacific

International passenger traffic at Asia Pacific airlines plunged -43.9% year-on-year in February, to 17 million, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

With the situation only worsening since then, Association of Asia Pacific Airlines Director General Andrew Herdman called for further support. “Whilst some governments have moved quickly to provide measures of financial support, much more needs to be done to reduce the risks of permanent damage to critical sectors of the economy,” he said.

Click here for the full story.


Russia will suspend all regular and charter flights to and from the country starting 27 March other than those repatriating Russians, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin ordered yesterday. Russia confirmed 182 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, bringing the total to 840 and marking the largest one-day increase to date [Source: The Moscow Times].

Russia announces the flight ban. It covers regular and charter air flights from Russian airports to and from foreign countries, with the exception of flights associated with the repatriation of Russian citizens to the Russian Federation.

Source: The Moscow Times


The US government has pledged US$10 billion in direct assistance to airports as part of its US$2 trillion stimulus package for the economy, which was agreed yesterday.

Airports Council International–North America (ACI-NA) has applauded the agreement between Congress and the Trump Administration, saying it would “provide needed relief for US airports facing at least $14 billion in losses because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) global health pandemic”.

Full story here.


The COVID-19 tally surges towards 500,000 cases as the US and much of Europe reel under the onslaught. Chart courtesy of Johns Hopkins University (Click to enlarge or here for a safe link to the constantly updated country-by-country count)


Mainland China saw a big spike yesterday – but each of the 67 new confirmed cases and 58 new suspected infections were imported, according to latest figures from the National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China. 541 confirmed cases have now been imported from overseas, a big concern for the Chinese authorities.

401 patients were released from hospital nationwide after being cured. 721 people who had had close contact with infected patients were freed from medical observation. Serious cases decreased by 164.

Hubei province reported no new cases of confirmed infections, no new cases of suspected infections, and 6 deaths (5 in Wuhan). 391 patients were released from hospital after being cured, including 382 in Wuhan.

South Korea

South Korea has become a role model for how to deal with COVID-19. Once the worst-hit country outside China, the Republic has managed the outbreak with remarkable speed, discipline and effectiveness. Source: Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Click to enlarge.


Lagardère Group today suspended market guidance provided in late February about its 2020 performance, amid the deep impact of the COVID-19 crisis, notably on its travel retail arm. It said the full effects could not yet be assessed “precisely and reliably”.

Click here for the full story.


London City Airport is suspending commercial and private flights from today (25 March). The shutdown is expected to last until the end of April, but will be kept under review.

In a statement, the airport added: “At this point in this fast-moving and unprecedented situation, we think this is the responsible thing to do for the safety and wellbeing of our staff, passengers and everyone associated with the airport.”


Pernod Ricard has said it is anticipating a -80% decline in its travel retail business for the period from February to the end of June.

Read the full story here


The global passenger traffic figures from Airports Council International (ACI) for January 2020 show the rapid impact the COVID-19 outbreak had on air travel.

Read the full story here


The Canadian Airports Council (CAC) has reignited its calls for arrivals duty free in Canada as part of a number of measures designed to reinvigorate the country’s airports.

In a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the trade body outlined how the government can help coronavirus-impacted airports by both providing short-term financial relief and introducing measures that will kick start an eventual relief.

Read the full story here


Aena, the operator of Spain’s major public airports, will exempt commercial outlets in closed terminals from rent payments.

As reported yesterday (24 March), the Spanish Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda announced a series of terminal closures across the Aena network to consolidate operations. The number of scheduled commercial flights in Spain was down -82% year-on-year yesterday.

In its full announcement, the Ministry added: “The commercial activities of airports that cannot be operational as a result of these reorganisations will be exempt from the payment of the income that was applicable to them during the period of inactivity.”


The pace of a pandemic: As the case total soars above 400,000 worldwide, it is sobering to compare the same graphic from a week earlier. Click to enlarge and here for a safe link to a constantly updated country-by-country count. Source: Johns Hopkins University (Click to enlarge)

This set of figures from show us that a very large majority of infected patients continue to recover. Figures vary from those of Johns Hopkins University due to different reporting times. Click to enlarge.

How case numbers have moved in the countries with the biggest total number of infections over the past ten days. Source: John Hopkins University (click to enlarge)

South Korea

Of the 100 new cases reported yesterday, 51 cases (43 Korean citizens and 8 foreign nationals) were imported from abroad. Of those, 34 were identified during airport quarantine screening measures, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Click to enlarge.

As a result in the recent rise of new imported cases, the government plans to apply stricter quarantine measures on US arrivals starting midnight Friday, the Korea Herald reported. The measures have so far only been applied to inbound travellers from Europe.

Of the 100 new cases yesterday, 51 were imported from overseas and 34 of them identified by airport quarantine screening, said the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Foreign tourists and short-term visitors without symptoms will be tested and must await the results at designated facilities. If they test negative, they can enter the country but must report their health conditions on a daily basis to the authorities.

The IOC has faced intense pressure to delay the Games, which were scheduled to take place from 24 July to 9 August , amid the intensifying COVID-19 crisis.


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said that airline industry passenger revenues could fall by US$252 billion or -44% below the 2019 figure due to the impact of travel restrictions and the expected global recession brought on by the COVID-19 crisis.

The figures are based on a scenario in which severe travel restrictions last for up to three months, followed by a gradual economic recovery later this year.

IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said: “The airline industry faces its gravest crisis. Within a matter of a few weeks, our previous worst case scenario is looking better than our latest estimates. But without immediate government relief measures, there will not be an industry left standing.”

Passenger traffic has fallen dramatically worldwide, though IATA notes that a partial recovery is underway in China domestic.

Full story here. 


Qatar Airways announced that it will continue to operate in over 70 cities worldwide with more than 150 flights day. The airline sent a message of reassurance to partners and passengers that it will get ‘as many people as possible home safely to their loved ones.’

In a statement, the airline said: “We are constantly reviewing our operations to see where there is more demand and requests, and wherever possible we will add more flights or bigger aircrafts.”

“This is a challenging time for the aviation industry, and we are thankful to airports and authorities and their staff around the world for their incredible efforts to help us get passengers home.”


In what is shaping as a landmark moment for the battle against COVID-19 in China, the lockdown of Wuhan, Hubei Province, where the first confirmed coronavirus case was reported, will be lifted on 8 April, reports Global Times. This will allow people to travel outside the province for the first time in around two months. In other cities, outbound traffic control measures will be lifted as soon as tomorrow.

Global Times noted: “Lifting the lockdown is seen as a major sign that the country has scored a victory in this battle. It has been over two months since Wuhan, a city with about 11 million population which was hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, was completely locked down.

“The National Health Commission said no new confirmed cases have been reported in Hubei from Wednesday to Sunday, and the World Health Organization said Wuhan’s recovery from the  COVID-19 pandemic gives the rest of the world hope as the highly contagious disease has spread to 168 countries and regions as of Tuesday.”


London Heathrow Airport has called on more airlines and freight companies to maximise the use of the hub’s quieter schedule so that the aviation industry can play its part in the economic and social fight against COVID-19.

It noted that air freight can keep vital supply lines open and help to get time-critical and temperature-sensitive goods, such as medical supplies and food, across the UK.

Next week, Heathrow’s cargo movements are forecast to increase by +53%, as more airlines and freighters use the available capacity to transport goods which will assist in the fight against coronavirus. This figure is set to increase further as the airport scales up its cargo operation. It noted that pharmaceutical products are one of Heathrow’s top imports, with the airport handling 41% of the UK’s pharmaceutical imports (by value). In 2019, over 12,000 tonnes of medical supplies such as medicines, vaccines, sanitisers, syringes and respirators travelled through Heathrow.

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye, said: “This is an unprecedented time for the international community, with COVID-19 requiring us all to work together, adapt and adopt extraordinary measures to quell the spread of this virus. For the first time in a decade, our airport has additional capacity in its schedule, capacity which we’ve begun to see used to help push vital supplies across the globe to help support frontline teams in the battle against this pandemic.

“We stand ready to support the country through this crisis. Our intention is to remain open at all times to serve those passenger flights that will continue to operate. And as the UK’s biggest port, we will temporarily increase the number of dedicated cargo flights. These will bring in vital supplies of food and medical equipment to help Britain weather this storm.”

Australia/New Zealand

Lagardère Travel Retail has begun closing stores across its Australia and New Zealand network, in line with government moves to slow the outbreak of COVID-19 in these countries. The closures, which are effective from 23 or 24 March depending on the location, run for an initial four weeks.

In New Zealand they include stores at Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Nelson, Palmerston, Queenstown, Rotorua and Wellington. In Australia they include Adelaide, Cairns, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

Lagardère Travel Retail CEO Pacific Przemek Lesniak said in a note to partners: “Unfortunately, we have had to start implementing some unprecedented measures in order to keep our team safe and our business strong for the future.

“This week we began the process of temporarily closing some of our retail locations. These are predominantly in terminals that are exposed to international traffic. In addition to our planned temporary store closures, we have now been faced with the change in the Alert Status in New Zealand which has forced us to close all our stores and warehouses there as they are deemed non-essential. These measures are in place for four weeks but will be continually reviewed by the government.”


Spanish airports group Aena has announced a series of terminal closures across its airport network in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. These will take effect in coming days.

At Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport, operations at terminals 1, 2 and 3 and T4S will be suspended, with all flights moving to T4.

At Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport, all flights will be concentrated in Terminal 1 areas A and D, with T2 closing.

At Malaga Airport, all flights will operate from T2 from 24 March.

Airports in the Balearic and Canary Islands have already cut back operations. Further to this, there will be partial closures of the terminals at these airports to match the limited numbers of flights.

Aena said that only those outlets that meet the essential needs of workers and travellers will remain open at the airports, mainly F&B, press and convenience. Lounges are closed and Meet & Assist services are suspended.


The figures from Frankfurt Airport tell their own grim story. Weekly passenger numbers down -73.5% year-on-year and worse is certain to follow as Germany and much of the world goes into lockdown mode.


New case numbers remain comparitively low in South Korea but authorities warn there is no room for complacency as they worry about spikes imported from overseas and within religious communities and care centres. From Sunday, South Korea made it mandatory for all arrivals from Europe – Koreans and foreign nationals – to be tested for COVID-19 and self-isolate for two weeks, even if they test negative. Source: Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Click on image to enlarge)


Good news and worrying news simultaneously out of China. Just one new case in Hubei province (and none in Wuhan) but an alarming spike in cases imported from overseas (with other infected by arrivals). Source: National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China. Click to enlarge.



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