Will international travel resume this year? Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says it's 'too hard to tell'


U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin encouraged Americans to focus on domestic travel this year as the international travel outlook for the rest of 2020 remains uncertain amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

In response to a question from Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business News Monday about whether international travel will be opened up this year, he responded: “Too hard to tell at this point.”

The treasury secretary clarified that there may be some room for limited international travel: “Obviously, for business people that do need to travel, there will be travel on a limited basis.”

Travelers interested in going abroad currently don’t have many options given a slew of international travel restrictions, government travel warnings and limited international flights. In late March, the U.S. State Department issued its highest alert level for international travel, telling Americans to avoid all international travel, an advisory that remains in place.

The treasury secretary hailed domestic travel as a better option, though many states still have traveler restrictions in place. 

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Airlines around the world are parking planes at airports and storage facilities as the coronavirus pandemic to continues to decimate the industry. Scroll on to get an idea of just how many aircraft are being mothballed.

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Several dozen Delta Air Lines jets are parked at Kansas City International Airport. The airline began mothballing planes in early March, when it parked 300 planes and cut 40% of its capacity. At the time, it was the biggest cut in company history.

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As airlines cut more service, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pittsburgh International Airport has closed one of its four runways to store close to 100 planes.

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More than 80 American Airlines jets were parked at Pittsburgh International Airport as of March 31.

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United has planes stashed at Orlando International Airport.

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Frontier and JetBlue have planes parked at Orlando International Airport as well.

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Southwest is storing aircraft at Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, California. The desert facility is about 90 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

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More aircraft are being stored at the Mojave Air & Space Port in Mojave, California.

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It’s the same story in Germany, where Lufthansa passenger planes are parked on a closed runway northwest of Frankfurt Airport, normally one of Europe’s busiest hubs.

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Planes belonging to Lufthansa’s low-cost subsidiary, Germanwings, are being stored at Munich’s Franz-Josef-Strauss Airport.

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A satellite image shows how another of Europe’s busiest airports, Charles de Gaulle in Paris, has become a parking lot for planes.

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Dutch airline KLM has parked on the tarmac of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.

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British Airways has grounded much of its fleet, including these jets parked at London Heathrow. The airport has shut down two terminals due to low demand.

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Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair has parked planes in Dublin and says it will continue to fly a reduced schedule through mid-April.

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British low-cost carrier EasyJet has covered the engines of an Airbus A320 to keep foreign objects from entering, part of the process for storing planes.

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Iberia, the flagship carrier of Spain, has parked planes on the tarmac at Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suarez Airport.

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Swiss jets are seen parked at the airport in Geneva.

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Scandinavian Airlines planes sit idle on the tarmac at Copenhagen Airport.

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Israel’s flagship carrier, El Al, has suspended commercial flights until early May and will only operate cargo and rescue flights until then.

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Egyptair has suspended flights to and from Egypt until April 23.

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Qantas, which has grounded the vast majority of its international fleet, is stowing planes at Sydney’s airport.

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Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong’s flagship carrier has parked its planes at Hong Kong International Airport. On April 8, the airport began testing all inbound passengers for COVID-19.

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China may be beginning to slowly reopen its economy but the country is barring foreigners from entering the country to prevent reinfections. As a result, Air China jets were still parked at Beijing Capital Airport as of late March.

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“The president’s also looking about ways to stimulate travel. We want people to travel safely, to be able to visit places safely,” Mnuchin said. “So as the economy opens up, I think you’ll see demand coming back. Our priority is opening the domestic economy.”

U.S. airlines hope that’s the case, but executives say they are seeing little if any signs of near-term travel demand. United Airlines President Scott Kirby on Friday said travel demand is essentially “zero” and cautioned that that could be the scenario into 2021.

He and Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest Airlines, said there is little impetus for most people to travel, even within the United States, until there are things to do when they get there, from eating at restaurants to visiting tourist attractions including Disney World and Disneyland.

Mnuchin remains optimistic.

“This is a great time for people to explore America. A lot of people haven’t seen many parts of America,” Mnuchin said. “I wish I could get back on the road soon.”


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