Ukraine: Cancellations, Rise in Airline Ticket Prices Lie Ahead

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Though the conflict between Russia and Ukraine — and the European response — is evolving by the hour, one thing is certain: For some, travel to Europe, including meetings and incentives, will be impacted.

“At this point, we are not hearing of any changes to event plans, but certainly hearing that everyone is worried that this could quickly expand beyond the borders of Ukraine,” said Josh Adams, industry relations specialist at streamlinevents and a Prevue Advisory Board member. “In addition we will be keeping an eye on budgetary impacts resulting form the potential rise of fuel costs.”

Others have already been feeling the pain of rising airline ticket prices to Europe, with one planner who preferred to remain anonymous reporting a 3x increase in fares she just booked. The International Air Transport Association reported that the price of jet fuel has increased 4 percent from just a month ago and almost 57 percent from a year ago.

So far this is not a concern for Sherille Mingo, CMP, CEM, trade show manager at Leidos and a Prevue Advisory Board member.  “Attendees are still planning to travel to our European conferences in March and thru June. Many have already purchased flights months in advance so this doesn’t affect them.”

IMEX Group has suspended Russian state enterprises from attending IMEX Frankfurt, which takes place May 31 to June 2. The Group’s CEO, Carina Bauer, and Chairman, Ray Bloom, released a statement, saying, “We do this with a heavy heart, understanding that the world is in an unprecedented situation. Our hearts go out to everyone who is affected and especially the people of Ukraine. All of us wish for a speedy and peaceful resolution to this conflict.”

On the cruise side, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has canceled all calls to St. Petersburg through the end of the year, according to The Points Guy. Norwegian is the parent company of Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises which, combined, had about 50 sailings on their schedules for the year that included stops in the Baltic port, TPG reported.

Atlas Ocean Voyages has also canceled its stops at Russian ports, as has Viking, whose sailings include travel across the Black Sea and up Ukraine’s Dnieper River, and Windstar Cruises, which has both Black Sea sailings and visits to St. Petersburg.

For now, it’s a wait-and-see situation, according to most of the meeting and incentive planners Prevue spoke with.

“I doubt that many will make a decision on pending programs in the short term as there is so much uncertainty given the truly deadly situation with incalculable players in the game,” said Steffi Kordy, owner of Cocoon Incentives and a Prevue Advisory Board member. “We were all seeing an end for Covid and now this.”

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Barbara Scofidio is Editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In her 30 years in the industry, she has become known for her passion around greening meetings, growing awareness of human trafficking and promoting CSR activities as part of business events. She is currently a member of SITE's Women IN Leadership committee and the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee. She was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of SITE for 30 years, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. Before joining Prevue in 2014, she served as Editor of Corporate Meetings & Incentives (MeetingsNet) for more than 20 years. She has a BA in Literature/Rhetoric from Binghamton University. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.