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United Airlines’ Chicago Hub is Renewing Travel Restrictions

Jul 20, 2021

Exploding Delta Variant case numbers in several regions of the US has caused the City of Chicago to impose a new round of travel restrictions.

Starting last Friday, people traveling into the city from Missouri and Arkansas will have to provide a negative COVID-19 test or quarantine for ten days after arriving in Chicago. 

The restrictions are important to airline workers because Chicago’s O’Hare airport is a central hub for several airlines and the headquarters for United Airlines.

The restrictions began over the weekend. 

City officials said the restrictions will be imposed when a state has more than 15 daily infections per 100,000 people. Other states with climbing infection rates could also be added, including Nevada, Utah, Louisiana, and Florida. 

As of Friday, the city’s public health department began sending warning letters to violators, but no fines have been imposed so far. The department stated travelers who continue to ignore the restrictions will face significant penalties.

On Monday, airline stocks worldwide fell as fears that the Delta variant could trigger renewed travel restrictions. 

The airline industry was among the hardest-hit sectors of the economy in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged global markets. The Delta variant is proving that the sector remains uniquely vulnerable. 

Demand for air travel has exploded since spring, completely reversing the near shut-down of 2020. Staffing shortages and signing bonuses have largely replaced layoffs and retirement packages for most airline workers. However, it is dawning on a growing number of investors that the pandemic isn’t over – and could be about to take a very dark turn thanks to vaccine hostility and rising case counts.

Shares of United stock fell 5.5% on Monday, and American dropped by 4.1%. Boeing shares fell by nearly 5%. Together, these three aviation-sector companies employ the largest share of Machinists and Aerospace Union members. 

Meanwhile, concerns related to the Delta variant are delaying plans to release restrictions on international travel, a significant source of revenue for airlines. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that travelers avoid flights to the UK. Plans to remove similar restrictions for the European Union and India have stalled, worrying airlines further. 

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