Tag Archives: travel

Global: 4,5K flights cancelled

Brussels 25.12.2021 Global Christmas travel suffered with over 2,100 flights canceled amid surging COVID-19 cases. United Airlines canceled 177 flights and Delta canceled 150 flights on Christmas Eve due to shortage of staff.

Dozens of flights across Australia have been cancelled, with thousands of airline staff being forced into isolation.

Over 4,500 flights have been cancelled around the world in the past two days and thousands more were delayed as the highly infectious #Omicron variant disrupted holiday travel, according to tracking website #FlightAware:

Additional holiday travel restrictions

Brussels 25.12.2021 Anna van Densky The Omicron variant is “in the process of becoming or has already become dominant in several countries, including Denmark, Portugal and the United Kingdom” according to the World Health Organisation, which is supposed to lead to an increase in the number of patients in need of hospiatlisation.

Sweden announced a restriction of the conditions of entry into its territory for travellers from other countries of the European Union, who will have from December 28 to present a negative Covid-19 test, even if they are vaccinated. However, children under 12 and travellers of Swedish nationality or residing in Sweden are not obliged to comply with this rule.

Seven other EU member states – Portugal, Ireland, Cyprus, Latvia, Italy, Greece and Austria – already require a negative test, even for those vaccinated from the EU, and Finland announced on Tuesday evening that she was going to do the same.

Thousands of travellers have cancelled their Christmas travel plans due to the spread of the Omicron virus worldwide, and in particular, forced by the travel restrictions imposed by the governments in a bid to halt the spread of the new COVID-19 virus variant.

Just in days before Christmas, Europe has been stepping up restrictions to cope with in upcoming surge of the Omicron variant. A variant “in the process of becoming or already become dominant in several countries, including Denmark, Portugal and the United Kingdom”, according to the WHO, and whose very high contagiousness could have serious consequences on the collective level – the outbreak of contaminations automatically leading to an increase in the number of hospitalised patients.

Travel within the European Union: the validity of the vaccination certificate limited to nine months. The validity of a European Covid digital certificate, when it concerns the vaccination of its holder for intra-EU travel, has been limited to nine months (270 days), the European Commission confirmed on Tuesday December 21, while vaccination campaigns are continuing in the EU for the booster dose.

This provision aims to harmonise the various rules in force in the Member States. The validity period adopted takes into account the guidelines of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), according to which booster doses are recommended no later than six months after the end of the first cycle of vaccination. The certificate will remain valid for a grace period of three additional months, in order to allow the adaptation of national vaccination campaigns and citizens’ access to booster doses.

Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders defended this harmonisation, while several countries already require a PCR test when entering their territory, even for an intra-EU traveller who has already been vaccinated.

“Unilateral action in member states would bring us back to the fragmentation and uncertainties we experienced last spring. The nine-month acceptance period for vaccination certificates will give citizens and businesses the certainty they need to plan their trips with confidence. It is now up to the member states to ensure that the reminders are deployed quickly to protect our health and ensure the safety of travel “, commented the Belgian commissioner, quoted in a statement.

Europe: Omicron hits travel

Brussels, 11.12.2021 TUI (TUIFF) says a surge in Covid-19 infections and the Omicron variant is taking its toll on winter holiday bookings.

Europe’s biggest travel company said on Wednesday, December 8, it had been seeing “positive momentum” in bookings but that had weakened because of “the increased media coverage of rising [coronavirus] incident rates and the emergence of new Omicron variant.”

The company said that if “current sentiment prevails,” it would likely only operate around 60% of pre-pandemic capacity, towards the lower end of where it had hoped to be. Bookings for this winter were currently at 62% of levels seen in 2018-2019, it added.

“In light of recent trends, capacity will likely be modified towards the lower end of our winter capacity plans of between 60% and 80%. We expect the current short-term booking behavior to continue,” TUI said in its annual report.

Covid-19 infections have been rising in some of TUI’s most important markets. Germany on Wednesday recorded its highest number of daily deaths from Covid-19 since February, as it struggles to bring a fourth wave of the pandemic under control.

In the United Kingdom, pressure is mounting on the government to introduce tougher restrictions to try to limit infections amid rising case numbers. The seven-day rolling average on November 29 was over 45,000, the highest it’s been since a peak around October 17.

Omicron: France restricts travel

Brussels 02.12.2021 France has announced new rules for all travellers – vaccinated or not – arriving in France from non-EU countries in the face of the new variant of Covid-19 named Omicron.

French government spokesman Gabriel Attal, speaking after the weekly meeting of the government’s Defence Council on Wednesday, on December 1, announced the implementation of new rules aimed at controlling the spread of the newly-detected Omicron variant.

A government Decree published on Thursday, December 2, provides more detail.

The new rules come into force at 00.01 AM on Saturday, December 4th, and the testing requirements apply to everyone aged 12 or older – including those who have French citizenship or permanent residency in France.

All travellers – vaccinated or not – will require a negative Covid test in order to enter France from any country outside the EU or Schengen zone. This would include travellers from the UK, the USA and Canada.

The test must have been taken within 48 hours of departure. The decree states that only tests “that are able to detect protein N of Sars-Cov2” can be used – this covers all PCR tests but not all antigen tests. Home tests have never been accepted for travel purposes.

Taliban assures free departures

Brussels 29.08.201 The following statement was released initially by the Governments of the United States of America, Albania, Australia, Belgium, Belize, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Canada, Central African Republic, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Eswatini, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Guyana, The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Haiti, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, North Macedonia, Norway, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Cyprus, Republic of Korea, Republic of Kosovo, Romania, Rwanda, Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, Spain, St. Kitts and Nevis, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland , The Bahamas, The Gambia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Union of the Comoros, United Kingdom, Vanuatu, Yemen, and Zambia.

“We are all committed to ensuring that our citizens, nationals and residents, employees, Afghans who have worked with us and those who are at risk, can continue to travel freely to destinations outside Afghanistan”.

“We have received assurances from the Taliban that all foreign nationals and any Afghan citizen with travel authorization from our countries will be allowed to proceed in a safe and orderly manner to points of departure and travel outside the country”.

“We will continue issuing travel documentation to designated Afghans, and we have the clear expectation of and commitment from the Taliban that they can travel to our respective countries. We note the public statements of the Taliban confirming this understanding”.

EU railroad travellers rights

Brussels 03.05.2021 Under the new rules adopted by MEPs on Thursday, train passengers will be better protected when there are delays and cancellations or when they face discrimination. EU railroad travellers rights

“We have very good news for those travelling by train, as we managed to secure the same minimum passenger rights all over the EU when it comes to re-routing, spaces for bikes, through-tickets and the rights of passengers with reduced mobility. These are important advances in making rail travel more convenient and passenger-friendly”, said EP rapporteur Bogusław Liberadzki.

On Thursday, April 29, Parliament approved the agreement with member states on the revised rules on rail passengers’ rights. The rules will guarantee that passengers can be re-routed and receive help when there are delays and cancellations. Access and assistance will improve for people with reduced mobility, and there will be more dedicated spaces for bicycles.

Helping stranded travellers
If there is a delay of over 60 minutes, passengers can choose either to be fully reimbursed for the cost of the ticket, continue on their journey or be re-routed under comparable conditions, but without facing additional costs. They must be able to travel in the same class as their original ticket. Train travellers will be able to organise travel on a different route themselves and get reimbursement for a new ticket if the rail operator does not communicate re-routing options within 100 minutes from scheduled departure.
The re-routing obligations will apply even in the event of force majeure and if necessary, meals and refreshments will need to be provided, and accommodation costs will be reimbursed. [
The new rules will also give more clarity on what can be considered a force majeure, which would exempt rail companies from paying compensation for delays or cancellations. In addition to extreme weather conditions and major natural disasters, the new rules now include major public health crises or terrorist attacks. Rail staff strikes will not be covered by this exemption.

Assisting people with reduced mobility
Travellers with reduced mobility will have more flexibility when making travel arrangements, as they will be obliged to notify the operator of their travel plans only 24 hours in advance (under current rules, they have to notify the operator 48 hours in advance). Where an accompanying person is required, they shall travel free of charge. Travellers with reduced mobility using an assistance dog shall be given a guarantee that the animal can travel with them.

Refurbishing trains for more bicycles
In an effort to provide more sustainable mobility and comfortable alternatives, all trains must be equipped with dedicated spaces and racks for bicycles, with at least four bicycle spaces on each train.

COVID19: EU travel Certificate

Brussels 29.04.2021 Today, the European Parliament adopted its negotiating position on the proposal for a certificate to reaffirm the right to free movement in Europe during the pandemic. The MEPs agreed that the new “EU COVID-19 certificate” – instead of Digital Green Certificate, as proposed by the Commission – should be in place for 12 months and not longer.

The document, which may be in digital or paper format, will attest that a person has been vaccinated against coronavirus or, alternatively, that they have a recent negative test result or have recovered from the infection. However, EU COVID-19 certificates will neither serve as travel document nor become a precondition to exercise the right to free movement, MEPs have underlined.

The legislative proposal covering EU nationals was approved with 540 votes to 119 and 31 abstentions, while the one on third-country nationals passed with 540 votes to 80 and 70 abstentions.

The vote took place on Wednesday, April 28, with results announced on Thursday morning. Both Parliament and Council are now ready to begin negotiations. The aim is to reach an agreement ahead of the summer tourist season.

Following the vote in plenary, Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES), Chair of the Civil Liberties Committee and rapporteur, said: “We need to put in place the EU COVID-19 Certificate to re-establish people’s confidence in Schengen while we continue to fight against the pandemic. Member states must coordinate their response in a safe manner and ensure the free movement of citizens within the EU. Vaccines and tests must be accessible and free for all citizens. Member states should not introduce further restrictions once the certificate is in force.”

No additional travel restrictions and free COVID-19 tests
Holders of an EU COVID-19 certificate should not be subject to additional travel restrictions, such as quarantine, self-isolation or testing, according to the Parliament. MEPs also stress that, in order to avoid discrimination against those not vaccinated and for economic reasons, EU countries should “ensure universal, accessible, timely and free of charge testing”.

Parliament intends to ensure that the EU certificate works alongside any initiative set up by the member states, which should also respect the same common legal framework.

Member states must accept vaccination certificates issued in other member states for persons inoculated with a vaccine authorised for use in the EU by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) (currently Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen), MEPs say. It will be up to the member states to decide whether they also accept vaccination certificates issued in other member states for vaccines listed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for emergency use.

Data protection safeguards
The certificates will be verified to prevent fraud and forgery, as will the authenticity of the electronic seals included in the document. Personal data obtained from the certificates cannot be stored in destination member states and there will be no central database established at EU level. The list of entities that will process and receive data will be public so that citizens can exercise their data protection rights under the General Data Protection Regulation.

Affordable vaccines allocated globally
Finally, MEPs underline that COVID-19 vaccines need to be produced at scale, priced affordably and allocated globally (AM 21). They also voice concern about the serious problems caused by companies not complying with production and delivery schedules. (AM 22)

World tourism loss exceeds €1 trillion

The economic damage to the global tourism sector as a result of the coronavirus pandemic restricitons is likely to exceed $1 trillion in 2020, which would set the industry back two decades, according to a new report from the United Nations.

“Depending on when travel restrictions will be fully lifted, the World Tourism Organization expects international tourism receipts (i.e. spending by international tourists) to drop between $910 billion and $1.2 trillion this year, which would set the global tourism industry back by 20 years,” UNWTO said.

The report adds that the coronavirus-related restrictions brought international travel to a crashing halt in April and May, resulting in international tourist arrivals that trailed last year’s total by almost 60% through the first five months of 2020.

The UNWTO has underlined that the tourism sector employs one in every ten people on Earth and warns that up to 120 million direct tourism jobs are at risk.

Tourism came to a standstill in mid-March. 2020. International tourist arrivals decreased by 56% in the first months of the year, with numbers in May down by 98%. This translates into a loss of nearly $320 billion in exports – over three times what was lost during the whole of the 2009 global economic crisis.

Forward-looking scenarios point to possible declines in arrivals and receipts from international tourism of 58% to 78% for the whole year depending on the speed of con- tainment of the pandemic, the duration of travel restrictions and the gradual re-opening of borders that has now begun but remains uncertain.

EU vacation with compagnon animal

An EU national can freely travel with his cat, dog or ferret if it has a European pet passport. This passport is available from any authorised veterinarian and must contain details of a valid anti-rabies vaccination.

Owners of a dog, cat or ferret which is less than 3 months old (and not vaccinated against rabies), should check the national rules before the departure.

The EU pet passport is established only for dogs, cats and ferrets. Owners of the other pets, such as rabbits or canaries, you should check relevant national rules on taking animals in/out of the country.

Ownr of compagnion animals indening to travel to Finland, Ireland, Malta or the United Kingdom, it must be treated against the tapeworm Echinococcus as follows:

The treatment shall be administered by a veterinarian within a period of not more than 120 hours and not less than 24 hours before the time of scheduled entry into Finland, Ireland, Malta or the United Kingdom;
the treatment shall be certified by the administering veterinarian in the relevant section of the passport.
Identification

The animal-traveller will require an electronic microchip or a readable tattoo that has been applied before 3 July 2011 with the same code as the one documented in the passport.

Borrell on travel restrictions for Turkey

“Turkey is not only a close neighbour for the European Union, especially for some Member States – it is clear it is a closer neighbour to Greece than to Portugal for example, or Ireland – but it is a key partner, it is a candidate country for accession, and the fact that we in Europe discuss extensively and frequently about Turkey just reflects the importance that we attach to this relationship” said the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell, at the press conference following his meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Çavuşoğlu in Ankara, Turkey.

“The advantage of our talks, dear Minister [[of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu], is that we can talk openly, frankly, in a constructive approach. Because currently the situation is far from being ideal. There are many serious issues that require our immediate attention. I want to change for the best the dynamics in our relationship because I believe that we have a mutual interest to get out of this situation and chart a new and positive trajectory, avoiding any kind of incident that could spark more troubles.

“First, the Eastern Mediterranean is a key region for Europe. It is time to tackle this, in order to create a way forward, conductive to confidence building, dialogue, good neighbourhood relations, stability and security. And this cannot be done by unilateral actions but requires cooperation and dialogue.

“The COVID-19 requires cooperation, unhappily it has not been the case worldwide, there is more confrontation than cooperation, but among us we should try to look for more cooperation than confrontation. I will have also the opportunity to discuss with the Minister of Defence [of Turkey, Hulusi Akar]. We are going to talk about the deterioration of the situation in the Aegean Sea, in the Eastern Mediterranean and what it means for EU-Turkey relations…

“…Let me just say that I understand the preoccupations of Turkey about the travel restrictions. I just want to say that Turkey has not been included in this list because we are adopting a progressive lifting of the travel restrictions on non-essential inbound travel. Only 15 countries have been selected to be part of this list, the approach that the Commission’s services in charge of these issues has followed is based on objective criteria related primarily to the health situation. These criteria are objective, applying them is not a mechanical exercise, it involves some qualitative judgement that is not set in stone. It will be revisited at least every two weeks, taking into account the evolving health situation.

“Moreover, not being on the list does not mean a complete travel ban. Citizens and people with an essential reason to come to Europe should be allowed to travel. As I said at least every two weeks we are going to reassess the situation according with the data provided by the health authorities of the states with which we would like to open our borders as soon as possible”.

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