Ovation's weekly client e-newsletter, the Informed Traveler, keeps readers updated on travel industry news and trends.
Following is a recap of May's top 5 (most clicked by Ovation clients) e-newsletter stories.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have announced that face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in airports and on flights in Europe starting on May 16, 2022, reports Travel Market Report. While the agencies said that wearing a mask “is still one of the best protections against the transmission of COVID-19,” it will no longer push for the practice to be a requirement during travel. “From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” said EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky. Rules for wearing masks are expected to vary after the mandatory requirement is lifted, with airlines told to encourage travelers to use masks on flights to or from destinations where wearing a mask on public transport is still required. The move by the EU matches the recent change by the US last month when its requirement to wear masks in airports and on flights was dropped after a ruling from a federal judge. However, in other countries, such as Canada, masking is still required for the entire duration of a flight arriving at or leaving from a local airport.
US airlines are pressing the Biden administration to lift a rule requiring nearly all international air passengers to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before entering the country reports Skift. Airline executives say many Americans are not traveling abroad due to concerns they will test positive in a foreign country and become stranded. Last Friday, industry group Airlines for America, noted a survey of its carriers estimated that dropping COVID-19 testing requirements would bring in an additional 4.3 million international passengers and $1.7 billion in incremental revenue. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg stated that while he did not think the testing rule would “be there forever,” lifting it would require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to be confident “relaxing it would not harm the progress that we’ve made against the virus.” After a meeting with Buttigieg in Washington DC last Thursday, British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps noted, “My sense is that it’s moving towards endgame […] My sense is that by the summer.”
Spain has relaxed its entry requirements for international travelers originating from outside of the European Union (EU) and associated Schengen Area, including from the US and UK, reports Travel Pulse. As of May 21, travelers who aren’t fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can now enter the country by providing negative test results – either a PCR test taken within 72 hours of a person’s departure or an antigen test taken within 24 hours of departure. Previously, unvaccinated travelers from outside the EU could only gain entry by producing proof of their recent recovery from COVID-19; fully vaccinated travelers will continue to be able to present proof of vaccination for entry. Spanish Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, María Reyes Maroto, stated, “Spain is emerging as one of the most desired destinations in the world […] and this measure will speed up the recovery of the sector by facilitating the entry of international travelers.”
Miami International Airport (MIA) will begin offering biometric boarding via facial recognition on all international flights sometime in 2023, reports Travel Weekly. According to MIA officials and technology partner SITA, the installation will cover all of MIA’s 130-plus gates and will be the largest implementation of biometric exit technology at a US airport. At biometric gates, departing international travelers are not required to show a passport or boarding pass. Instead, a biometric facial-recognition system takes a photo, which is then matched to passport photos that the Department of Homeland Security keeps on file. This week, MIA released a video from biometric testing trials, showing that the process takes only a few seconds per passenger. Since 2020, MIA has used this technology to document checks for arriving international passengers.