Skift Take

This week's coronavirus-related travel stories included Hong Kong legacy hotel competitors seeing a common threat, Blackstone has a Hilton playbook, Delta's CEO looked for a three-year recovery, and Expedia's new CEO got a private equity lifeline.

Throughout the week we are posting original stories night and day covering the impact of coronavirus by connecting the dots across the travel industry. Every weekend we will offer you a chance to read the most essential stories again in case you missed them earlier.


Hong Kong’s Legacy Luxury Hotel Players Join Forces to Aid in Recovery: What greater motivation is there than protecting one’s legacy? Hong Kong’s hotel brands with deep roots in the city share this incentive, which should help in the destination’s recovery efforts.

How Blackstone’s Earlier Hilton Investment Will Guide Its Hotel Strategy in This Crisis: Coronavirus may lead to distressed pricing and investment opportunities for firms like Blackstone, but it could take up to a year before we see the first wave of acquisition plays.

Don’t Count on Airlines to Fully Recover for 3 Years: Delta CEO: It could have been worse. Delta Air Lines reported $8.6 billion in first quarter revenue, but demand fell by 95 percent in April. The second quarter could be way more ugly, even after the airline cut its schedule by 85 percent.

A Third of Americans Want to Travel Again Shortly After Pandemic Is Contained: Skift Research’s Latest Travel Tracker: What will travel look like on the other side of the pandemic? Skift Research’s monthly travel tracker looks into consumer’s changing attitudes about travel when they start to travel again.

Expedia Grabs $3.2 Billion in Private Equity Financing and Appoints Peter Kern CEO: Barry Diller followed a familiar pattern and appointed someone he’s known for years and feels comfortable working with as CEO. Peter Kern will have no trouble working with Apollo and Silver Lake, and with making deep cuts because he is a private equity guy at heart.

Uber Rideshare Revenue Ticking Upwards After Dramatic Fall: If you are grasping for any signs that the U.S. or global economies have a heartbeat, then consider that Uber’s rideshare revenue has been ticking upwards in the past two weeks after plummeting over the past two months. No, this is not the same as China reopening or a promising coronavirus vaccine in the making, but at this point we’ll latch onto almost anything.

The New York Times Drops Travel Section — For Now: It makes practical sense that The New York Times would temporarily stop printing the travel section. But it’s hard not to see the symbolism of the move.

Accor CEO: We Won’t Be Investing Equity in Our Struggling Hotels: It is impossible to predict a hotel company’s overall 2020 financial performance until the spread of coronavirus stabilizes, and until operators can see what type of travel returns first.

7 Questions Corp Travel Buyers Should Ask About Airbus’ New Way to Hedge Volatile Airline Tix Prices: Airbus’ decision to launch a new product in the middle of a crisis might seem strange, but travel buyers, corporations and airlines will likely be receptive to anything that can help insure them against suffering such big losses again.

Norwegian Cruise Line Reportedly Taps Goldman Sachs to Sell Stake: Like the other two major cruise lines, Norwegian Cruise Line is struggling to financially survive in a time when ships are docked and no revenue is coming in.

Has Coronavirus Upended the Hotel Industry’s Main Performance Metric?: An unprecedented downturn calls for a hotel performance metric shakeup, as revenue declines don’t show just how deep the coronavirus downturn in travel really is.

United’s $2 Billion Quarterly Loss Might Be Its Brightest News of the Year: A $2 billion loss is a big number. But at least some people were traveling in the first part of the first quarter. What’s going to happen in the second quarter?

What Role Will Chinese Outbound Tourism Play in Post-Crisis Travel?: For a decade, China’s outbound market has been the driving force of an unflinchingly optimistic global travel industry. As a new decade starts — with much of that optimism extinguished — will China’s growth remain as reliable?

Airport Automation to Speed Up for a Crisis Rebound With Less Human Contact: Sanitizing robots. Amazon’s touchless checkouts for airport stores. Contactless dining. Airports had already been embracing automation, but the crisis may accelerate the pace of change.

Corp Travel Managers Tackle Virus Immunity Certifications Before Putting Workers Back on the Road: The hunt is on for a silver bullet that rubber stamps an employee’s immunity to Covid-19. Only then will corporations be able to kickstart their business travel.

U.S. Hotel Construction Boom Hit a Record High in March Despite Coronavirus: Hotel builders shouldn’t get too optimistic by a record-setting month. It can take as long as a year for economic downturns to reflect in the construction industry.

JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes: Coronavirus Testing Will Be Key for Airlines’ Recovery: It’s difficult to imagine that middle seats on planes will be permanently removed after a recovery takes place. That’s why coronavirus testing is so important. But if passengers won’t fly with another flyer at their elbows, then expect airfares to skyrocket.

Asia’s Hotels Warming Up to Automation Thanks to Growing Social Distancing Norms: Raising productivity and easing a manpower crunch had been the original triggers behind the deployment of service robots and contactless technology in Asia’s hospitality sector, but the coronavirus pandemic will catalyze the automation trends already on the horizon.

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Tags: airlines, airports, coronavirus, corporate travel, cruise, destinations, roundups, technology, tourism

Photo credit: A group of competing Hong Kong luxury hotels are banding together to find ways to help bring back the tourism industry there. Thomas Birke / Flickr

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