Travel restrictions set over the last week to slow the spread of the omicron coronavirus variant have left airlines, passengers, and businesses scrambling.
There was an early ban on flights out of southern Africa, where the first case of omicron was found, but this was quickly replaced by more wide-ranging precautions that would make travel more expensive and inconvenient (if it is feasible at all).
Mandatory PCR tests were re-introduced in Australia, and the United Kingdom and other countries and passengers are ordered to self-isolate until a negative result was received. There was a 14-day ban on all inbound non-residents in Israel. The Philippines stated Europeans, including those from Switzerland and the Netherlands, would not be welcomed for several weeks. Singapore postponed launching vaccinated transit lanes with Qatar, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia.
Spain and Switzerland have restricted entry to British visitors, putting the country’s travel resurgence in jeopardy.
Some large events around the world are still going ahead as planned. However, the norms are restricting the crowd, wearing a face mask, and enforcing social distancing.
As a result of increased testing and isolation requirements, several travellers have postponed their travel plans and been left wondering what’s next.
However, other travellers have not seen friends and family in a long time who are still inclined to take a vacation.
Even before discovering the Omicron variant, “Christmas reservations were weaker than anticipated. Additional roadblocks like PCR tests and isolation restrictions will further change people’s incentives and travel plans.
After a brief respite, airlines are again confronted with shifting regulations and public health developments that scuppered travel plans and weakened demand during the pandemic.
Some countries, such as Singapore and Japan, are exploring tougher border controls.
The Bloomberg EMEA Airline Index has fallen 18 per cent this month due to the likelihood of a second winter without flights.
According to John Strickland, CEO of London-based JLS Consulting: “This comes at a time of year when airlines will attempt to improve liquidity and to limited extent profitability and is after an already hard 18 months of revenue depletion.