PARIS - French airlines expect to lose business as a result of U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to suspend travel from Europe to the United States for a month because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Transatlantic flights are among the most profitable parts of Air France-KLM's business.
Air France alone serves more than 20 American cities and operates more than 200 flights to the United States per week. The alliance between Air France-KLM, Delta and Virgin Atlantic produces combined annual revenue of $13 billion. With the U.S. decision, hope vanishes for tourism officials who wanted to see a reverse in the travel decline from Asia and Europe to North America.
About 100,000 French nationals were set to travel to the U.S. in March and April.
Valerie Boned, the secretary-general of Enterprises de Voyage, an advocacy group representing travel agencies in France, told VOA the U.S. move was a disaster.
She said professionals were quite shocked by the announcement because the United States is one of the main destinations for French people. According to Boned, 1.8 million French citizens travel to the U.S. each year, for leisure or business. It is the No. 1 long-haul destination for the French.
Others fear the travel ban for EU citizens to the United States will affect employment, as the travel sector has been fragile for weeks because of the outbreak.
René-Marc Chikli, president of SETO, the French union for tour-operating companies, said he was expecting America’s decision to implement a travel ban on EU citizens, because the virus has no boundaries. But it's still an economic shock. Tour operators represent 3,000 companies and 35,000 employees in France. He indicated that more 10% of the companies might not survive if the crisis lasts for months.
Tourism industry leaders will be meeting Friday with French government officials to try to find ways to get relief to the travel sector.