The United States will lift its travel restrictions for fully vaccinated foreign nationals on November 8, opening land borders and air travel for millions of people. The airlines on both sides of the Atlantic are already celebrating the announcement.
November 8, the new date
The White House announced on Friday it will lift travel restrictions for fully vaccinated foreign nationals effective November 8, Reuters reported today. While the US Government had previously announced it would allow entrance to foreign vaccinated travelers in November, it hadn’t set a date.
On this date, the United States will admit fully vaccinated foreign air travelers from the Schengen countries in Europe, as well as Britain, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran, and Brazil. Currently, the US is barring entrance to foreign citizens who have been in those countries within the past 14 days.
Nevertheless, fully vaccinated travelers will continue to be required to show a pre-departure negative test taken within three days of travel prior to boarding. They will also have to provide proof of their vaccination status.
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How are the airlines reacting?
The airlines in the United States and Europe are understandingly happy with today’s announcement. It is a step forward towards exiting the COVID-19 crisis.
Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic’s CEO, commented in a statement,
“The US Government’s confirmation that fully vaccinated UK visitors will be able to enter the US from 8 November is welcome news and finally allows consumers and businesses to book travel with confidence. The US has been our heartland for more than 37 years, and we are simply not Virgin without the Atlantic. We’ve been steadily ramping up flying to destinations such as New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, and we can’t wait to fly our customers safely to their favorite US cities, on holiday, or to reconnect with friends, loved ones, and colleagues.
“As the UK forges its recovery from the pandemic, the reopening of the transatlantic corridor and the lifting of Presidential Order 212F acknowledge the great progress both nations have made in rolling out successful vaccine programs. The UK will now be able to strengthen ties with our most important economic partner, the US, boosting trade and tourism as well as reuniting friends, families, and business colleagues.”
British Airways Chairman and CEO Sean Doyle said that it has been nearly 600 days since the introduction of the US travel ban. Now, we’ve come to a pivotal moment for the entire travel industry, and finally, there’s some certainty desperately needed.
“We can’t wait to welcome our customers back onboard and reconnect friends and families across the Atlantic, rebuild US-UK business relationships and reclaim Britain’s position as a leader on the global stage,” he added.
Current impact in the transatlantic market
The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted international long-haul travel worldwide. Since March 2020, the US Government imposed some heavy travel restrictions, which led to dismal demand levels in the transatlantic market.
Slowly but surely, demand has been picking up. Now, it will definitely bounce back a bit faster following today’s announcement.
As of October 2021, US and European carriers are offering 14,042 monthly flights between both continents. They have 3.8 million seats available. Those numbers are 51.7% and 52.3% below 2019 levels, according to Cirium.
United Airlines is the biggest transatlantic operator at the moment. It has 2,318 scheduled flights in October, 42.6% below its pre-pandemic numbers.
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