November eighth sees US open to fully vaccinated travellers from Europe
Twenty months is a long time to wait for anything. I know that, personally, my patience would run out after about three. Now, imagine that on top of waiting, you were also haemorrhaging money until those twenty long months are up. Gets a lot worse, right? That’s the issue previously facing major US airline companies after the international travel ban was imposed on the country, back in March of last year, by the federal government. The US’ tourism industry can finally come up for air, however, as the country reopens travel to and from 33 countries – most of which are in Europe – to fully vaccinated travellers. Travellers will, of course, need proof of a negative Covid test to travel, but after two years of pandemic, it’s not a stretch to expect that most people are very accustomed to this by now. This re-opening comes at the perfect time, with holiday season just around the corner – US airlines will be leaping at the opportunity to increase demand and confidence in air travel. This much-needed measure will see airlines like Delta, who have seen a 450% increase in bookings from the previous six weeks, start to recuperate some of their pandemic losses. In total, almost 1,600 departures are planned between the US and Europe this week alone, based on information from Cirium. While this is a huge increase, that’s still much less than the 2,708 departures in the same week back in November of 2019. Clearly the US’ aviation industry is still suffering badly from a loss in confidence in regard to flying due to the pandemic. The re-opening also comes as the World Health Organization recently announced that Europe is currently the latest hotspot for the virus. “There may be plenty of vaccines available, but uptake of vaccines has not been equal,” stated the WHO’s emergencies chief, Dr. Michael Ryan. Vaccine rollouts are still varied across the continent, with some countries achieving over 40% total vaccination of their population, while others have merely a fraction of this number.
Even in the most vaccinated nations, cases of the Delta variant – one of the most infectious variants of Covid yet – have been dramatically on the rise. France’s president Emmanuel Macron is set to address the nation on Tuesday to address the huge spike in cases seen within the country’s borders. Germany too has seen its highest seven-day incidence rate since the pandemic began, while cases stand at near record levels in Greece, Russia, and Ukraine. These are all very worrying signs as the continent prepares to head into the winter. It’s no wonder, then, that planned flights from the US to Europe are still at fairly low levels for this time of year. No doubt concerns about catching Covid, as well as a general loss in confidence in terms of flying owing to the pandemic, have dramatically affected US citizens’ decisions to take a winter break to Europe. Despite the positive news re-opening brings for US airlines, there’s still a risk that the mass exodus of holidaymakers may cause another spike of global infections, and further damage an already struggling industry.