The Dutch government designated the United States a “very high-risk” nation after a surge in new Omicron cases.
The United States was added to the Netherlands‘ list of “very high-risk” countries yesterday, alongside Afghanistan, Haiti, Jordan, Somalia, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and Venezuela.
Under restrictions implemented last week, those arriving from very high-risk countries “must self-quarantine for 10 days, even if they have proof of vaccination or proof of recovery,” meaning that COVID-19 self-isolation period is now required for all new US arrivals, and even fully vaccinated travelers arriving from the United States will now have to undergo 10 days of quarantine in the Netherlands.
The self-isolation period can be reduced if a traveler tests negative for coronavirus halfway through the quarantine. Travelers aged 12 and over will also have to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test on entry to the Netherlands.
The new restrictions are significant due to the fact that they apply to vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers alike, with some studies suggesting certain COVID-19 vaccines fare worse against Omicron than against previous strains.
Since the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020, the US has recorded the most coronavirus cases and deaths worldwide, at 52 million and 800,000 respectively, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It has also registered the most cases globally over the past seven days, at 1,600,000 – nearly three times as many as the runner-up, the UK, which had 600,000.
The Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority issued an air operator’s certificate (AOC) to Norse Atlantic Airways. The new airline is on track to start transatlantic flights in spring 2022.
“We would like to thank Norway’s Civil Aviation Authority for a constructive and professional process. We are now one important step closer to launching our attractive and affordable flights between Europe and the U.S. in spring next year,” said CEO and founder Bjørn Tore Larsen of Norse.
“We’ve had a good and constructive dialogue with Norse throughout the process of issuing a Norwegian AOC. We wish them the best of luck and look forward to a continued fruitful relationship going forward,” said Director General of the Civil Aviation Authorities of Norway, Lars E. de Lange Kobberstad.
An AOC is the approval granted by a national aviation authority to an aircraft operator to allow it to use aircraft for commercial purposes. This requires the operator to have personnel, assets and systems in place to ensure the safety of its employees and the general public.
“I would also like to commend my colleagues at Norse for their outstanding efforts getting the important AOC in place,” Bjørn Tore Larsen added.
Norse plans to start commercial operation in spring 2022 and the first flights will depart from Oslo to selected cities in the U.S.
Norse Atlantic Airways is a new airline that will offer affordable fares on long-haul flights, primarily between Europe and the United States. The company was founded by CEO and major shareholder Bjørn Tore Larsen in March 2021. Norse has a fleet of 15 modern, fuel-efficient and more environmentally friendly Boeing 787 Dreamliners that will serve destinations including New York, Florida, Paris, London and Oslo, among others. First flights are expected to take off in spring 2022.
Global full-service aircraft lessor Aviation Capital Group (ACG), wholly owned by Tokyo Century Corporation, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Airbus for 20 A220s and a firm contract for 40 A320neo Family aircraft, of which five are A321XLRs.
“We are delighted to expand our portfolio with additional A220 and A320neo Family aircraft. These highly advanced aircraft will enhance ACG’s strategic objective to offer our airline customers the most modern and fuel-efficient aircraft available,” said Thomas Baker, CEO and President of ACG.
“The order is another gratifying endorsement of our single aisle products by one of the world’s premier aircraft asset managers, ACG and the Tokyo Century Group. It also forcefully confirms the A220 as a growingly desirable aircraft and investment in the commercial aviation landscape. We congratulate and thank ACG for its decision to select both the A220 and A320neo Families,” said Christian Scherer, Chief Commercial Officer and Head of Airbus International.
The A220 is the only aircraft purpose-built for the 100-150 seat market and brings together state-of-the-art aerodynamics, advanced materials and Pratt & Whitney’s latest-generation PW1500G geared turbofan engines. Featuring a 50% reduced noise footprint and up to 25% lower fuel burn per seat compared to previous generation aircraft, as well as around 50% lower NOx emissions than industry standards, the A220 is a great aircraft for regional as well as long distance routes operations.
The A320neo Family is the most successful commercial aircraft family ever and displays a 99,7% operational reliability rate. The A320neo Family incorporates the latest technologies including new generation engines and Sharklet wing tip devices, while offering unmatched comfort in all classes as well as Airbus’ 18-inch-wide seats in economy as standard. The A320neo Family provides operators with at least a 20% reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. The A321XLR version provides a further range extension to 4,700nm. This gives the A321XLR a flight time of up to 11 hours, with passengers benefitting throughout the trip from Airbus’ award-winning Airspace interior, which brings the latest cabin technology to the A320 Family.
With this order ACG is supporting the recently launched multi-million-dollar ESG fund initiative by Airbus that will contribute towards investment into sustainable aviation development projects.
Marisa Fotieo, a teacher from Chicago, IL, was on her way to Europe for a vacation when she suddenly developed a sore throat midflight somewhere above the Atlantic Ocean, aboard Icelandair plane.
Fotieo, who brought several COVID-19 rapid testing kits with her on the flight, went to the plane’s lavatory and used one of them, only to find out that she was COVID-19-positive.
The woman immediately notified the flight attendant of her conditions, but there weren’t enough empty seats on the plane to properly isolate her.
Fotieo, who feared she might infect other passengers then asked if she could “just stay in the bathroom for the rest of the flight.”
She had to self-isolate in an airplane’s lavatory for four hours, until the aircraft landed in Reykjavik Airport.
“I can’t believe I spent four hours in that bathroom, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” the woman said.
After the Icelandair flight landed in Icelandic capital city of Reykjavik, the woman was placed in the Red Cross Humanitarian Hotel, with her ten-day quarantine currently in progress. However, she said she had been feeling well and planned to leave in a few days.
Fotieo’s father and brother, who were on the same Icelandair flight, have both tested negative for the virus and could continue their journey to Switzerland.
The 2021 Gay Travel Awards has released its list of official winners.
This year has been another challenging one for travelers. With the pandemic ebbing and flowing across the globe and the uncertainty related to the latest Omicron variant, many are restricted from traveling or waiting for a safer time. The Gay Travel Awards affords everyone a moment to focus on the industry’s best as a prologue to getting back out there.
The Gay Travel Awards support and promote LGBTQ+ travel and tourism by identifying and rewarding select destinations, properties, events, influencers, and other organizations that exemplify a spirit of inclusiveness and hospitality excellence. These distinguished winners lead by example and inspire other inclusive companies and brands.
Every year, especially now, The Gay Travel Awards offer something to look forward to, while inspiring future travel. The Gay Travel Awards are akin to The Oscars for LGBTQ+ travelers.
Returning for its sophomore year, “The Gay Travel Influencers” category consists of creators who inspire travel with their inclusive spirit, a drive for diversity, and a desire to change the world for the better.
The 2021 Gay Travel Awards Winners by category appear alphabetically below:
According to the Costa Rica Institute of Tourism (ICT), Costa Rica received 151,701 stopovers in November 2021, 51.5% more than the 100,102 stopovers received in October 2021.
Costa Rica closed its borders to international arrivals as of March 19th, 2020, and reopened to international tourists arriving by air as of November 2020. It reopened its land borders in April 2021. Costa Rica consequently received 37,573 stopovers in November 2020.
The 151,701 stopovers received in November 2021 were 61.8% of the 245,643 stopovers received in November 2019.
Costa Rica received 86,348 stopovers from the USA in November, 56.9% of the overall total, and 10,434 stopovers from Central America.
The volume of stopovers increased by 20.6% in the first eleven months of 2021, growing from 936,938 stopovers in the first eleven months of 2020 to 1,130,377 stopovers in the first eleven months of 2021. The 1,130,377 stopover visitors were 40.2% of the 2,812,086 stopovers received in the first eleven months of 2019.
The number of stopovers from the USA increased by 91.9% in the first eleven months of 2021, from 389,115 stopovers in 2020 to 746,575 in 2021 while the number from Central America declined by 67.2%, falling from 195,717 in the first eleven months of 2020 to 64,140 in the same eleven months of 2021.
The share of visitors from the USA grew from 41.5% in the first eleven months of 2020 to 66.0% in the first eleven months of 2021.
Prague Airport remains a safe place for travel as confirmed by the ACI Airport Health Accreditation (AHA) Certificate, re-assigned to Prague Airport for a high level of protective measures implemented, which ensures increased safety of passengers flying through Prague. The Certificate appreciates the fact that the set standards meet the requirements of international organizations in the aviation industry.
“The airport has repeatedly demonstrated an admirable continuation of its efforts to provide a safe airport experience for all travelers which is in line with the recommended health measures established in the ACI Aviation Business Restart and Recovery guidelines and ICAO Council Aviation Recovery Task Force Recommendations,” Luis Felipe de Oliveira, ACI World Director General, stated in the reaccreditation letter.
Prague Airport has maintained its accreditation for the next 12 months. The measures implemented have been in place since the spring of 2019, applied by Prague Airport as one of the first entities in the Czech Republic.
“To obtain the Certificate, it was necessary, for example, to present information on all set measures and processes, including detailed records of cleaning and disinfection schedule, draft an overview of changes in passenger check-in procedures as well as share specific steps aimed at protecting the health of airport employees. In this regard, we have introduced our own sophisticated system for tracing contacts in the workplace. Therefore, I am immensely happy that the set protection measures work, eliminate health risks for travel and thus increase the safety of flying from Prague,” Jiří Pos, Chairman of the Prague Airport Board of Directors, said.
Departure and arrival heck-in is performed under strict hygienic conditions. All passengers and visitors are obliged to wear FFP2 class respirators while inside the airport, to maintain a safe distance, and to pay thorough attention to hand hygiene and disinfection. For this purpose, over 300 disinfection tanks are located throughout the airport. Since June last year, a commercial test point has been run in cooperation with an external laboratory, where passengers can get COVID-19 tested before departure or after arrival. The airport is also subject to increased disinfection and cleaning of all busy areas, including passenger gates.
“We inform passengers about the set measures in a number of ways, including airport announcements, repeated at regular intervals, alongside information signs located throughout the airport, and floor stickers in places where queues may form,” Daniel Otta, Customer Experience Manager, added.
ACI Airport Health Accreditation (AHA) is an official certification program that is open to all member airports of this organization worldwide. Under the program, the ACI evaluates airports according to individual criteria and thus assesses their set protective measures and other tools they use in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Obtaining the accreditation then confirms that the airport is well prepared and that passengers can fly safely and with ease from the certified airports. At the same time, thanks to this accreditation, hygiene standards are being implemented throughout the aviation industry with the goal to increase the safety of travel, boost the confidence of passengers in accredited airports, and fuel the demand for air travel.
Airports Council International (ACI) is a global industry association that brings together approximately 1960 airports in a total of 176 countries. It was founded in 1991 and aims to promote cooperation among members and other partners in the field of air transport.
Stuttgart Airport is to achieve its 2050 climate target ten years earlier. This was decided by the management and supervisory board of Stuttgart Airport. The state airport plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to an absolute minimum by 2040 in order to contribute to achieving the state’s climate targets. To reach the ambitious new goal, the airport has adapted its original Climate and Energy Master Plan 2050. The required climate actions must now be implemented much quicker to reach so-called net greenhouse gas neutrality as early as 2040.
Winfried Hermann, Minister of Transport of the State of Baden-Württemberg and chairman of Stuttgart Airport’s supervisory board: ‘With the fairport strategy, the airport has already been taking responsibility for climate protection for many years and is consistently implementing the strategy, for example by electrifying the apron fleet or through landing fees. In its coalition agreement, the state government declared that it wants to develop Stuttgart Airport into Germany’s first climate-neutral airport – the STRzero. We are working together on this with great commitment.’
Walter Schoefer, spokesman of Stuttgart Airport’s management board: ‘Our contribution to the energy transition should be substantial and really make a difference. We will therefore avoid or reduce almost all our emissions. Only the small remainder is to be brought to net zero through carbon neutralization.’
The holistic carbon concept covers the areas of energy efficiency and generation, smart grids, as well as mobility and transport. According to the calculations, the most important lever for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieving the ambitious climate target is to consistently upgrade the energy performance of operational buildings through refurbishments. This includes the airport terminals in particular. Some of them are over 30 years old. Among other actions, Stuttgart Airport plans to expand solar energy plants on the entire airport campus and to install further charging infrastructure.
In comparison to total emissions of air traffic, airport operations are only responsible for a small share. For this reason, Stuttgart Airport is supporting the transformation process of air traffic toward zero emission flights, for instance through research funding.
Delta Air Lines turned back a flight from Seattle to Shanghai, that was already halfway to China, after new pandemic-related cleaning rules at Shanghai Pudong International Airport forced the US carrier abruptly halt service to one of two major airports in Shanghai that handles mostly international flights.
That recent midair reversal reportedly left quite a few Delta Air Lines‘ passengers stranded with expiring COVID-19 tests and visas.
The new Shanghai Pudong International Airport‘s mandates “require significantly extended ground time and are not operationally viable for Delta,” the airline said in a statement issued today.
The second-largest US air carrier didn’t elaborate on what the rule changes were or why it was necessary to call back a flight that had already been in the air for about six hours.
As of now, Delta Air Lines has canceled its Seattle-Shanghai flights through at least Thursday.
The aborted flight was reportedly entering Russian airspace last week when it made a U-turn and headed back towards Seattle. It was due to land in Seoul for a crew change before continuing on to Shanghai.
While a Delta spokesperson said the rule change was made after the flight left Seattle, Chinese media outlets report that Shanghai Pudong officials denied any recent change to entry requirements.
Without naming Delta Air Lines, the Chinese consulate in San Francisco said yesterday that many US flights to China had been delayed or canceled in recent days and claimed it lodged a complaint with the carrier that called back a flight midway.
Taiwanese airline EVA Air has suspended flights from Kaohsiung and Taipei to Shanghai Pudong Airport until February 3, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA).
EVA Air cited new requirements for disinfecting inbound planes more thoroughly, which it said were implemented on Friday. The new rules would cause return flights to Taiwan to be delayed by up to five hours, an EVA official said.
China has significantly tightened travel restrictions in an attempt to slow down the spread of COVID-19 as it prepares to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, which are scheduled to begin on February 4.
Ethiopian Airlines announced on Monday that it is finally bringing troubled Boeing 737 MAX aircraft back to service after the 2019 crash that killed 157 people.
Boeing’s best-selling, single-aisle 737 MAX airplane was grounded worldwide after two separate crashes just six months apart, which killed 346 people.
In 2019, Ethiopian Airlines flight 302, a Boeing 737 MAX bound for Kenya, crashed six minutes after takeoff from the capital, Addis Ababa, killing all 157 passengers and crew. It was the second Boeing 737 MAX disaster in six months, after a Lion Air jet crashed in October 2018 in Indonesia, killing 189 people.
Investigators identified faults in the sensors and new flight control software that had not been explained to pilots.
In today’s statement, the airline said that it was satisfied with the aircraft’s safety, and it is planning to resume flying Boeing 737 MAX planes in February of next year.
“Safety is our topmost priority… and it guides every decision we make and all actions we take,” Ethiopian Airlines‘ chairman, Tewolde Gebremariam, said in a statement.
“We have taken enough time to monitor the design modification work and the more than 20 months of rigorous rectification process… our pilots, engineers, aircraft technicians, cabin crew are confident on the safety of the fleet,” he added.
Boeing 737 MAX returned to service in late 2020, with airlines around the world taking deliveries of the aircraft.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) keeps insisting that the quality of supplied air on board an aircraft is much better than most indoor environments, therefore aircraft cabin remains a very low-risk environment for contracting COVID-19, even though the new Omicron strain of the virus appears to be more transmissible than other variants in all environments.
According to IATA, factors that contribute to the very low risks include aircraft design characteristics (direction of airflow, rate of air exchange and filtration), the forward orientation of passengers while seated, well-enforced masking, and enhanced sanitary measures.
Other cabin features including the mandatory usage of masks on board and the requirements around tests and/or vaccination certificates, make the risk of contracting COVID-19 to be very low, IATA claims.
Public health authorities have not suggested further measures for indoor environments as a result of Omicron; and IATA’s advice for travelers, including correctly wearing masks, is also unchanged.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is a trade association of the world’s airlines founded in 1945. IATA has been described as a cartel since, in addition to setting technical standards for airlines, IATA also organized tariff conferences that served as a forum for price fixing.
Consisting of 290 airlines (2016), primarily major carriers, representing 117 countries, the IATA’s member airlines account for carrying approximately 82% of total available seat miles air traffic. IATA supports airline activity and helps formulate industry policy and standards. It is headquartered in Canada in the city of Montréal, with executive offices in Geneva, Switzerland.
With the pandemic, it had been 19 months since my last pint in a Bangkok pub and as I sat there it all seemed so normal, so real as though nothing had passed. As though nothing was different.
But it most definitely was different, the arrival of Covid-19 was an event of such magnitude that no one was spared. As I sat sipping my pint my thoughts turned to the future. What lay in store for the industry I had been involved in for more than 4 decades. In 2019 in a world unaffected by the coronavirus, Thailand welcomed 39.9 million tourists from across the globe. This year the industry forecasts it will be difficult to reach 6 million for 2021. A drop of 85%.
Tourism is a major economic contributor to the Kingdom. Estimates of tourism revenue directly contributing to the GDP, according to Wikipedia, range from one trillion baht (2013) to 2.53 trillion baht (2016), the equivalent of 9% to 17.7% of GDP. And according to the National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC) in 2019, the tourism sector was projected to grow and in the next ten years would account for 30% of GDP by 2030, up from 20% in 2019.
These forecasts however have been adversely affected by the pandemic, NESDC confirms the actual figures for Thailand’s GDP contracted 6.1% in 2020 due to Covid-19.
Lease and hire purchase contracts on 16 aircraft were scrapped and 42 fuel-inefficient aircraft are up for sale, 38 operational planes remain, of four rather than nine types. Another 20 A320s continue to operate under the subsidiary low-cost airline, Thai Smile, giving the group 58 aircraft photo: A brand new A350 back in 2016 /AJWood
Last month Thai Airways announced they will sell off 42 planes and reduce its workforce by almost one-third as it continues restructuring the business. Piyasvasti Amranand, head of the restructuring efforts, said planes being sold are older less efficient models and it will return 16 jets to lessors.
That will leave Thai Airways with a fleet of 58 planes. The workforce will be cut from 21,300 to 14,500 by December 2022. The airline is also in talks with the government for an additional 25 billion baht loan.