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Empty skies: latest radar map around Gatwick shows reality of airline & travel crisis as COVID-19 takes over all our lives



Grounded, suspended, staff asked to take sabbaticals, others furloughed. The impact of the coronavirus is affecting all aspects of everyday life, none more so than the airline industry.

A recent snapshot of flights across the area and around Gatwick shows the true visual reality that the virus is having.

And staff across airlines are just some of those in the travel industry who have no idea how long this is going to continue for and for how long their jobs will be safe.

Virgin Atlantic were contacted after CN24 received alleged reports that staff who had chosen to take a sabbatical only hours before the government announced their Job Retention Scheme had been denied being allowed to be furloughed instead.

A spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic said:

“Following the rapid acceleration of Covid-19 and extensive travel restrictions, coupled with a sharp drop in customer demand, it is imperative for Virgin Atlantic to take swift and decisive action to safeguard its future. We’re incredibly grateful to our people who took unprecedented collective action to support Virgin Atlantic in this time of crisis, opting into voluntary severance, sabbatical or unpaid leave spread across 6 months.

Over 99% of our people chose one of these options to help the company preserve cash and protect jobs. While we welcome the Chancellor’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, it does not change the need for us to take all possible self-help measures and we ask that our people stand behind the choices they made in order for the company to avoid taking more drastic action. We are confident we will weather this storm and we look forward to welcoming our people who opted for sabbatical back to the business when operations resume.”

As the country comes to the end of another week of lockdown there is now talk that measures set to prevent the spread of the virus may not be lifted till June.

Analysts are now reporting that demand for air travel, however, may not return for another year – and this is apparently a best-case scenario according to reports coming from an analyst at investment bank Stifel.

But the question is not whether the industry will recover, because of course it will. The question is how long can airline and travel businesses hold out till that time and for how long can the government keep paying out?

Satellites have shown that as the air travel has reduced so dramatically then so has the dangerous levels of pollution. But whilst this is good for the environment in the short term, it could actually have a major detrimental effect in the longer run.

This is because of the danger of an emissions surge that is likely to occur as the industry starts to recover.

So as we enter the Easter break the true fact remains that no-one is likely to notice much difference over their habits from the previous week. Possible less calls from home and maybe not much laptop usage for some. But for those in the airline and transport industry these quiet skies are not a welcome break from the droll noise pollution, but just another reminder that we are in the middle of a crisis and no-one knows when it will end.


BREAKING NEWS: Coronavirus cases jump 200% in one week across Crawley



On Monday 14th Sept the new “rule of six” comes into force across England with news breaking today that children under 12 will not be exempt from it.

The new rules mean people are limited to meeting in groups no larger than six people both indoors and outdoors.

The rule ‘could’ potentially be coming slightly too late as new figures for Crawley reveal a 200% jump in recorded cases in just one week.

People need to realise the harm it can do you without putting you directly in hospital

Data from the UK public health bodies shows that in last week (2nd – 8th Sept) there were 15 NEW cases reported in Crawley. This number does not seem a lot but when compared to the week(s) before it shows a dramatic jump.

In only the previous week there were only 5 new cases reported, with 4 separate days reporting no cases at all.

But in the past week this figure jumped with 8 reported in one day alone.

So far the worst single day for reported cases in Crawley was back on the 28th April when 19 cases were reported in a day.

To date, since recording began there have been 502 cases, with 77 of these resulting in death.

As more parts of the UK are also having to deal with stricter lock down restrictions Crawley remains below the national average of cases per 100,000 at 13. The national average is currently 18.

The towns neighbour, Horsham, saw an even greater rise of 360% with 23 cases reported between 2-8 Sept.

Across the UK an additional 3.497 cases were reported in the past 24 hours, an increase of 36% on the same day a week ago, taking the total to 365,174.

A local doctor, who asked to remain anonymous, said her and her colleagues were very worried about how too many people were downplaying the risk of infection.

“I hear every day some people talking about how the number of people in hospital through Covid are so low so we shouldn’t worry about the number of cases increasing – but we should. People need to realise the harm it can do you without putting you directly in hospital.”

But questions on how the new rules will be enforced are still not clear with new statements released from the Police that talk about ‘engaging, encouraging and explaining’ before even considering taking any action.

A source close to Sussex Police has told Crawley News 24 that there is both confusion and dismay within the ranks about who and how officers are going to contend with issues of larger groups than allowed meeting up, while juggling the increase of daily issues that are returning since the full lockdown.

Another source said they were awaiting a full outline of what powers the police really will have on Monday (14th Sept) before officers would be given full guidance on what they should do.

Sussex Police told Crawley News 24:

“As we start to see a rise in infections it is vitally important that we all follow the regulations and restrictions in place to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.

Everyone has a role to play limiting the outbreak by following the regulations, including those about gatherings which will be limited to six people both indoors and outside when the new legislation comes into force on Monday 14 September.

People need to take personal responsibility for their actions, in particular during this heath emergency, and this includes adhering to the latest government guidance.

Sussex Police will continue its approach of engaging, encouraging and explaining the current regulations and only taking enforcement action when necessary. “

Only 1 week after schools reopen, a couple of weeks after a house party alarmed residents in the town, (and Crawley Council confirming they were investigating the event), and new rules coming into force, all eyes will now be set to see just how well the town responds to the new measures and whether the rise is just a ‘blip’ or if it is a sign of a returning rise.

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