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At Ovation, we remain committed to providing excellent service to our valued clients throughout the COVID-19 global pandemic. Click the link below to view our travel resources guide which includes traveler health & safety information, interactive risk maps, client communications, travel management best practices, webinar recordings and more regarding COVID-19.

https://www.ovationtravel.com/covid-19-resources-guide

Ovation's weekly client e-newsletter, the Informed Traveler, keeps readers updated on travel industry news and trends.

Following is a recap of December's Top 5 (most clicked by Ovation clients) e-newsletter stories.

1. PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY UNVEILS NEWARK LIBERTY TERMINAL FEATURES

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) officials recently unveiled Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) terminal features as part of its commitment to transform three major airports, reports Transportation Today. The new design delivers four distinct areas for taxis, app-based ride-share vehicles, buses and private passenger vehicles to reduce traffic congestion, ease passenger loading and improve the customer experience. Additionally, officials indicated the new terminal design includes technology and safety features in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “The Port Authority’s airport redevelopment projects are designed to meet the needs of the 21st-century traveler,” Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton said. “We are constantly looking at ways to improve our new facilities and ensure their look, feel, and functionality are best-in-class. The arrivals frontage design changes introduced at Newark Liberty’s new terminal will make dramatic improvements to the functioning of the arrivals level, easing passenger movements from the terminal into whichever mode of ground transportation travelers choose.“ The new terminal is slated to open in late 2022.

2. AIRPORT TRAFFIC SURGES TO NEW HEIGHTS AS CHRISTMAS APPROACHES

On Friday, December 18th, the weekend before Christmas, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) scanned 1,066,757 travelers at airport checkpoints, reports Forbes. That’s only the fifth time that volumes at airport checkpoints have surpassed 1 million travelers and the third highest volume on record since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. Saturday saw volumes reach over 1 million once again, as TSA screened 1,073,563 people. TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein said last weekend was the first instance since March that traveler screenings have exceeded one million on two consecutive days. Christmas is traditionally one of the busiest times of the year at airports, with daily traveler volumes only surpassed by Thanksgiving traffic. 2020 already seems to be following in the same tack as other years. Over the Thanksgiving break, four days saw traveler traffic surpass 1 million travelers. On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the highest traveler volume seen post-COVID-19 was reached as 1,176,091 travelers passed through airports.

3. AIRLINES HAVE A KEY ROLE TO PLAY IN THE DISTRIBUTION OF VACCINES

Recent announcements of successful COVID-19 vaccine trials by Pfizer and Moderna have provided hope to airlines, which view vaccines as the answer to get air travel volume back to pre-pandemic levels, reports Travel Weekly. But in order for such vaccines to be distributed widely enough to sharply alter the market for travel, passenger airlines themselves will have to play a key role. According to IATA, passenger airlines typically carry approximately half of the world's air cargo, utilizing the bellies of aircraft that are also transporting the flying public. Air cargo specialists, such as UPS, FedEx and DHL, typically carry the other half. In recent months, IATA as well as individual passenger carriers have been readying for a surge of pharmaceutical business when COVID-19 vaccines become available. United's cargo operation, for example, developed a COVID-19 readiness task force over the summer. A key challenge, said United vice president of cargo Chris Busch, is to be ready for the deep freezing that at least some vaccines would require. The Pfizer vaccine, for example, must be kept at minus 94 degrees. In a similar vein, Lufthansa Cargo opened new cold-storage facilities at its Munich hub and at Chicago O'Hare. Meanwhile, IATA has been collaborating with a wide range of governing bodies and global humanitarian organizations, including the World Health Organization, Unicef and the World Bank, in preparation for what will be a sudden and massive increase in the air transport capacity required to address COVID-19 distribution.

4. INDUSTRY GROUPS SAY INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL CAN SAFELY RESTART

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has joined with major international industry bodies including Airports Council International (ACI), International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the World Economic Forum (WEF) to call for the restoration of international travel, reports Travel Pulse. It is the belief of these groups that travel safety can be upheld through successful testing and that vaccines should not be a requirement to travel since the full rollout of vaccination programs could further delay a revival of the industry. Together, the ACI, ICC, WEF and WTTC identified four key measures that they believe should be implemented to restore international travel safely. These measures include globally recognized testing regimes before departure, common health and hygiene protocols that are aligned with globally established standards, a risk management regime and internationally consistent and recognized travel passes.

5. DELTA TO LAUNCH "COVID-TESTED" FLIGHTS BETWEEN US AND ITALY IN DECEMBER

Delta Air Lines has announced that it has partnered with Aeroporti di Roma (FCO) and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) for a first-of-its-kind trans-Atlantic COVID-19 testing program that will enable quarantine-free entry into Italy. Starting December 19th, Delta’s trial will test travelers and crew on newly relaunched flights from Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport to Rome-Fiumicino International Airport. The tests will exempt from quarantine on arrival in Italy all US citizens permitted to travel to Italy for essential reasons, such as for work, health and education, as well as all European Union and Italian citizens.

To fly on Delta’s COVID-tested flights between Atlanta and Rome, travelers will need to test negative for COVID-19 through the following:

  • A COVID Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test taken up to 72 hours before departure
  • A rapid test administered at the airport in Atlanta before boarding
  • A rapid test on arrival in Rome-Fiumicino
  • A rapid test at Rome-Fiumicino before departure to the United States

Travelers also will be asked to provide information upon entry into the US to support CDC contact-tracing protocols. Delta has engaged expert advisors from Mayo Clinic, a global leader in serious and complex healthcare, to review and assess the customer-testing protocols needed for Delta to execute a COVID-tested flight program.