© Provided by The Wall Street Journal.
Some 170 Covid-19 vaccines are in development around the world, according to the World Health Organization, each one promising to protect people from the deadly coronavirus and allow them to go back to work and school.
Now, a handful are starting or nearing the final stage of testing. Depending on the results, some companies say their vaccines could be greenlighted for use as soon as this year.
Among the first vaccine candidates to start the final round of testing is one developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca PLC. Also far along are experimental shots from Pfizer Inc. and its partner BioNTech SE, as well as Moderna Inc.
China National Pharmaceutical Group Co., or Sinopharm, has two vaccines in Phase 3. A vaccine from another Chinese company, CanSino Biologics, is expected to begin the pivotal testing soon. But remember, many vaccines that show promise in early testing fail during the final round.
While final-stage testing may stretch for months or even years to continue to track safety and the durability of protection, positive interim results from Phase 3 may be enough for a vaccine to start getting regulatory approval for mass production and distribution in the meantime. Several of the leading vaccine candidates expect interim results this fall.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is designed to provide protection by delivering into a person’s cells the genetic code for the spikes protruding from the new coronavirus. Then the cells can produce the spike proteins, generating an immune response that would be able to fight off the coronavirus.
Delivering those genetic instructions is a weakened, harmless version of a virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees.
On Sept. 8, AstraZeneca said it was suspending trials for its vaccine candidate after a woman in the U.K. experienced illness. The company is investigating what happened, and it isn’t clear how long the pause might last. It affects a trial that began in late August in the U.S. aiming to enroll 30,000 subjects, with funding from federal agencies.
In early testing, the vaccine successfully produced immune responses in humans with only minor side effects. Other late-stage trials were under way with several thousand volunteers in Brazil and South Africa, and are also now paused. A U.K. trial that was briefly suspended has resumed.
The Moderna vaccine also uses a gene-based technology to provoke an immune response, though the code it delivers takes the form of messenger RNA. Those molecules, commonly referred to as mRNA, are the body’s molecular couriers ferrying DNA instructions for making proteins. The vaccine delivers to cells mRNA for making the coronavirus’s spike protein.
Moderna and the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases are testing a two-dose shot. It was the first candidate to enter human testing in the U.S. The vaccine produced an immune response in early-stage testing and was generally well-tolerated, with minor side effects observed in test subjects.
Final-stage testing is under way in the U.S. with a 30,000-person trial that could yield interim results in the fall. An mRNA vaccine has never been approved for any disease.
The vaccine developed by Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE also uses mRNA. In a Phase 1 trial, the vaccine generated neutralizing antibodies that promise to fight off the coronavirus and was generally well tolerated. Phase 3 testing began in the U.S. in July, enrolling about 30,000 people, and will expand overseas to include about 120 sites.
The U.S. government has agreed to pay Pfizer and BioNTech nearly $2 billion for 100 million doses. Pfizer aims to seek regulatory approval or an emergency-use authorization in October.
China’s state-owned Sinopharm is developing two vaccines with the government agencies Wuhan Institute of Biological Products and Beijing Institute of Biological Products. Both are based on an older vaccine-making technique.
The group has entered agreements to conduct testing in several countries, including Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates. The Wuhan Institute has drawn concern over its safety record, including over some of its vaccines for children.
The government says it started what it calls “emergency use” of some of its Covid-19 vaccines on medical workers and border inspection officials in late July. Chinese officials have said they aim to make a vaccine available to the public before the end of the year.
Sinovac, a private Chinese company, began its final-stage trial in July in São Paulo, Brazil, where it is testing its vaccine to take advantage of a higher infection rate. Sinovac has also struck a deal with Indonesian state-owned pharmaceutical holding company PT Bio Farma to make up to 250 million vaccine doses each year for the Indonesian public, according to China’s state news agency.
CanSino’s vaccine is aimed initially at the Chinese military. Chinese company CanSino developed the shot with the military based on a weakened virus behind the common cold. A Phase 1 study was conducted in March in Wuhan, the early epicenter of Covid-19. The shot got government clearance in June for military use for one year.
Johnson & Johnson is developing a vaccine that uses a weakened form of a common-cold virus, known as an adenovirus. A single dose of this vaccine provoked a strong immune response in early animal testing. The company plans to launch by late September a 60,000-person global study, which could be the largest late-stage clinical trial of a Covid-19 vaccine.
The company will carry out the study at nearly 180 locations in the U.S. and eight other countries where transmission rates are high, including Brazil, Chile and South Africa.
The Russian state-owned Gamaleya Research Institute is developing a vaccine based on a combination of two adenoviruses, which it has already tested on volunteers. Russia effectively approved use of the vaccine in early August, though the shot hadn’t gone through final-stage testing. The Russian government plans for mass vaccination to start in October, and will aim rollout at high-risk groups including health workers.
Novavax’s vaccine consists of two shots given 21 days apart that deliver proteins resembling the spike jutting out from the new coronavirus. Researchers hope the proteins will trigger the production of antibodies and immune cells that can fight off the coronavirus.
The shots also contain a component, called an adjuvant, to boost the immune response. In Phase 1 testing, the vaccine was generally well-tolerated and produced promising numbers of antibodies. Phase 2 testing began in August, and the company has said Phase 3 could start in September.
Corrections & Amplifications China National Pharmaceutical Group Co., or Sinopharm, has two vaccines in Phase 3. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said a vaccine. (Corrected on Sept. 3)
Travel restrictions are gradually loosening six months since the COVID-19 pandemic prompted worldwide border shutdowns but Americans still aren't completely in the clear when it comes to domestic travel.
Here are the states requiring out-of-state visitors to quarantine or present a negative COVID-19 test result to avoid self-isolation heading into the fall.
Alaska is requiring that all non-residents arrive with a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours prior to departure or proof of a pending result from a test taken within 72 hours prior to departure. Travelers awaiting results will need to upload proof that a test was taken within the 72-hour window into the Alaska Travel Portal and quarantine while waiting. Testing is available for $250 per test for those arriving without a pre-test but visitors must quarantine while awaiting the results. For extended stays in Alaska, a second test should be taken 7-14 days after arrival.
Travelers arriving in Connecticut from a state with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average are advised to self-quarantine for at least 14 days. As of September 8, the list includes 35 U.S. states.
Visitors to Hawaii are required to undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. The state's pre-travel COVID-19 testing program that would allow visitors to bypass the mandatory quarantine with proof of a negative test result has been delayed until October 1 at the earliest.
There are no statewide travel restrictions in Illinois, however, travelers from states experiencing a surge in new COVID-19 cases must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Chicago. As of September 8, those states include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.
Visitors to Kansas are advised to quarantine for 14 days if they have traveled to Aruba between August 27 and September 10; traveled to countries with a CDC Level 3 Travel Health Notice and restrictions on entry into the U.S. such as China, Iran, European Schengen area, U.K., Ireland and Brazil between July 14 and August 27 or been on a cruise ship or a river cruise on or after March 2020.
People traveling to Kentucky from states experiencing COVID-19 infection rates of 15 percent or higher are being asked to quarantine for at least 14 days. Click here to view the latest positivity rate for every state.
Maine is permitting out-of-state travelers to forgo its 14-day quarantine requirement with proof of a negative COVID-19 test result taken no longer than 72 hours prior to arrival. Travelers can be tested upon arrival but must quarantine while awaiting the results. Residents of Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey are exempt from Maine's COVID-19 testing and 14-day quarantine requirement for travel and lodging.
Out-of-state visitors to Massachusetts will need to quarantine for 14 days or provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours of arrival unless visiting from a lower-risk state (average daily cases per 100,000 below six and positive test rate below 5 percent). As of September 9, that list includes Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming.
New Hampshire is requiring that all visitors from non-New England states (Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island) staying for an extended period of time self-quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.
As of September 8, residents of 35 U.S. states (that have a COVID-19 test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average) are advised to self-quarantine for at least two weeks upon arrival in New Jersey as part of the joint 14-day quarantine travel advisory announced by the Governors of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut earlier this summer.
As of September 4, travelers to New Mexico from states considered high-risk based on COVID-positivity rates are required to self-quarantine for 14 days. Residents from the following states are exempt from the mandatory quarantine: Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Washington, D.C.
Like Connecticut and New Jersey, New York is requiring travelers from states with a significant degree of community-wide spread of COVID-19 (positive tests in excess of 10 percent or a number of positive cases exceeding 10 per 100,000 residents) to quarantine for at least two weeks upon arrival.
Ohio is advising those entering the state following travel to states reporting positive COVID-19 testing rates of 15 percent or higher to self-quarantine for 14 days. Based on a seven-day rolling average of positivity rates as of September 9, affected states include Alabama, Kansas, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Travelers visiting Pennsylvania and who are coming from the following states are recommended to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Tennessee.
Those visiting Rhode Island from a state with a COVID-19 positivity rate higher than five percent can bypass the state's 14-day self-isolation requirement by presenting proof of a negative test result taken within 72 hours of arrival.
Visitors to Vermont from Northeast states (New York; Pennsylvania; Ohio; New Jersey; Delaware; Maryland; Washington, D.C.; Virginia; and West Virginia) who live in counties with a similar active COVID-19 caseload to Vermont (less than 400 active cases per million) can bypass the 14-day self-isolation or seven-day quarantine followed by a negative test.
A self-quarantine of 14 days is required for travelers coming to the nation's capital from high-risk areas, which includes 30 states as of September 8.
The coronavirus has forced everyone to put their travel plans on hold, opting for virtual sightseeing and future trip-planning over the real thing. But if you’ve decided you’re ready for your next adventure, these eight countries are welcoming Americans with fairly straightforward entry protocols.
To the jetsetters, family vacationers, romantic retreaters, solo voyagers, spring breakers, and everyone who’s travel plans have been interrupted by COVID-19: We feel your pain. While you can’t take an epic Italy or Greece getaway yet, there are still some great options available to venture beyond American borders. If you need to get your wanderlust fix ASAP (or just want some inspiration for the future), we’ve rounded up a few countries to consider.
These locales offer plenty of outdoor, socially-distanced sightseeing opportunities once you’re there, and some have direct flights available from major US hubs. They can still provide a dreamworthy getaway-albeit a little different than you’re used to. Before going anywhere, we encourage you to read all resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US Department of State, and any local guidelines in the location you’re visiting.
The health and safety of yourself—and others—should be the highest priority. If you’ve decided you’re ready to get back out there, a beach in the Caribbean or a mosque in Turkey is ready to welcome you.
One of the gems of the Caribbean, Aruba is welcoming US travelers to its pristine beaches. Prior to entry, you’ll be required to complete the online Embarkation / Disembarkation process (providing basic information like DOB and duration of stay, a personal health assessment, uploading a negative PCR COVID-19 test result within most recent 72 hours, and confirming proof of travel insurance).
Once there, you’ll find some expected protocols like wearing a mask in the airport and practicing social distancing. Go to VisitAruba.comfor a comprehensive overview of coronavirus updates and requirements.
Once in Aruba, you’ll find many restaurants and attractions open with safety guidelines in place. Though you can certainly make the most of your Aruba experience without too much close contact with others. Lounge away on Eagle Beach or Palm Beach by day, then take a sunset sail by night. For the adrenaline-seekers, Aruba is popular for its ATV and off-roading expeditions.
Prior to departure Bermuda, you’ll need to complete the travel authorization process online, at a $75 cost (for children nine and under this is only $30). You must also prove that you tested negative for COVID-19 “ideally within 72 hours,” according to Bermuda’s Tourism Authority, “but no more than seven days before departure.”
There is a slight catch, in that you will still be tested upon arrival (even if your pre-departure result is negative), and must quarantine in your accommodation until the results of the test come back—which they say is usually six to eight hours. It’s not ideal, but a small sacrifice to make to ensure the rest of your stay is as smooth as possible. For more information, visit the website for Bermuda’s Travel Authority and check out their FAQs.
When it’s time to enjoy your stay in Bermuda, outdoor activities abound to keep distanced from other tourists, but still experience the island’s natural beauty. Many options revolve around the turquoise waters of the Atlantic, of course, from kayaking to snorkeling to catamaran tours. If it’s tranquility and relaxation you seek, then just hit one of Bermuda’s top beaches with a good book and some sunblock.
Americans visiting Turkey right now will only be subject to medical screenings upon arrival. Nonstop flights are currently bookable to Istanbul, from New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago and San Francisco. Istanbul is known for its many historic areas with incredible mosques and palaces, as well as the remarkable Grand Bazaar market.
The food scene in Turkey is to die for, from all types of kebabs to regional specialties like kofte (meatballs), manti (Turkish dumpling), pide (Turkish pizza), and karniyarik (stuffed eggplant). To get outside of the city, there’s no better day trip (or multi-day) than to Cappadocia, where you can take part in an iconic hot-air balloon ride over the famous cone-shaped rock formations called “fairy chimneys.”
If you’re near New York City, Chicago, or Los Angeles airports, you can currently grab a direct flight to Dubai on Emirates. Just note you’ll have to fill out a few forms with the airline staff. The entry requirements are fairly straightforward in Dubai: Complete the Health Declaration Form, confirm you have medical travel insurance, and prove a negative PCR COVID-19 test within 96 hours of arrival.
Learn more about Dubai’s coronavirus travel guidelines at VisitDubai.com.
Dubai is home to the famous Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. You’ll be comforted knowing the Burj Khalifa team is taking extra safety precautions like temperature checks, contactless payments, hand sanitizer stations, social distancing protocols, and more. A Dubai visit also isn’t complete until you’ve trekked through the desert, either via ATV, Jeep, or even camelback.
Other great outdoor activities include jetskiing along the city’s waterfront or a speedboat ride along the coastline and surrounding beaches—both of which offer incredible vantage points of Dubai’s opulent architecture on land, like the Burj Al Arab and the mansions and hotels on Palm Jumeirah. And you’ll likely want to partake in the iconic shopping and dining scene of Dubai—just be sure to practice safe distancing measures and wear a mask when appropriate.
A true paradise, the islands of French Polynesia (more than 100 of them!) are open to US visitors as of July 15th. Tahiti and Bora Bora are probably the most popular and most frequented. Tahiti currently has direct flights from Los Angeles and San Francisco (from New York you’d have a stop at LAX first, then on to Tahiti).
The entry guidelines to French Polynesia include proof of negative COVID-19 test within three days prior to international air departure, and a receipt of completed health registration in their electronic system. Once there, you’ll need to self-test four days after arrival.
You’ll receive a kit with your self-test and instructions at Tahiti Airport. Learn more at TahitiTourisme.com. With Tahiti as your vacation homebase, you can experience world-class diving, snorkeling, and aquatic sightseeing, as well as some great hiking and off-road adventures through the lush forests.
Romance, adventure, entertainment: Saint Lucia offers a bit of everything, with the two peaks of the Pitons providing a scenic backdrop. According to SaintLucia.org, visitors including Americans must have a negative result from a PCR COVID-19 test within seven days of travel, and must complete a Pre-Arrival Travel Registration Form which they ask that you print and keep a copy on you.
Lastly, you’ll need confirmed reservations at a COVID-19 certified accommodation provider for the duration of your stay. Once there, you’ll be in an oasis of beauty and wonder.
You can take a catamaran sightseeing cruise in Marigot Bay, go ziplining through the mango trees at Morne Coubaril Estate, or horseback ride along sandy beaches. If hiking or biking interest you, you can explore trails that wind past waterfalls, rivers, and secret beaches.
As your homebase, consider the bustling port city of Castries or scenic Soufriere. Direct flights are available right now from many major US hubs including New York, Atlanta, and Miami.
Maybe that dream European getaway isn’t so far away. Terrific reporting by the Daily Beast explains how Croatia is allowed to bypass the EU’s travel ban (AFAR also has more details), due to the fact that Croatia is not part of the EU’s borderless Schengen Zone.
Entry protocols still exist, of course. Like every country, you’ll need to prove a negative PCR coronavirus test result—within 48 hours of arrival. You’ll also need to complete an online travel form. Lastly, you must show proof of your accommodation booking, which can be a hotel, resort, listed Airbnb, sailboat, campground, etc. You won’t find any direct flights from the US, but plenty of connecting flights exist to popular places like Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik, with the stops occurring at major European airports (the EU’s travel ban includes an exception for travelers in transit).
It’s worth noting that you won’t be able to sneak into other European countries once in Croatia—but why would you? Croatia is one of the world’s most stunning seaside destinations. You can sunbathe on the beaches of Hvar, sip wine on a mountainside vineyard in Dalmatia, bike through the historic city streets of Zagreb, or trek through the jaw-dropping Plitvice Lakes National Park.
And whether you’re a Game of Thrones fan or not, you likely know of Dubrovnik and its famous orange-colored rooftops contained within fortress walls, dating back to the 12th century. During your stay, don’t forget to enjoy as much fresh seafood as you can—it may be the best you’ve ever had.
Cambodia is open to Americans right now, but it’s not the easiest or most practical place on our list. You’ll only find connecting flights—from hubs like Seattle, Dallas, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York—with the stop at Incheon International Airport in South Korea.
Cambodia requires travelers to pay a $3,000 deposit upfront to cover any potential coronavirus-related cost. But don’t worry, if you test negative for COVID-19 during the mandatory test upon arrival at the airport, you’ll only be on the book for $160 of that. More information can be found at TourismCambodia.com.
If you’re still determined to check Cambodia off your bucket list in 2020, we can’t blame you. From the iconic temples at Angkor Wat and underrated street food of Siem Reap to the history of Phnom Penh and sacred mountains of Phnom Kulen National Park—Cambodia is a nation ripe with culture and beauty.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the most recent information.
As travel begins to slowly resume across the globe, it’s abundantly clear that preparing for a trip abroad will be much more complicated than simply checking your passport’s validity and packing enough clean socks.
In April, Emirates became the first airline to test passengers for COVID-19 before check in. For travelers departing Dubai (DXB) en route to Tunis, Tunisia (TUN), Emirates’ rapid blood test was designed to provide results in as little as 10 minutes. Travelers who tested negative were cleared to fly — and provided with a clean bill of health, which is quickly becoming a common requirement for entry to many countries.
Countries are cautiously reopening, but the future of travel is shifting at a rapid pace. And health screening measures may become an increasingly prominent part of the travel experience in the months, and maybe even years, to come.
Whether or not you need a coronavirus test to fly will depend largely on your origin and destination — and as this global health crisis progresses, the methods for screening and testing travelers will likely evolve in kind.
In some instances, such as the Emirates route connecting the United Arab Emirates to Tunisia, travelers may be required to submit to on-site coronavirus testing before boarding an airplane. In other instances, negative results may be required before you can enter a country, or leave the airport.
When a coronavirus test isn’t required, temperature checks and other precautions are likely to play an outsized role in the screening process. Airlines such as Frontier and Air Canada have added passenger temperature checks to their own safety procedures, and travelers could be denied boarding if they present a fever.
Though the situation is still very much developing, here are some of the instances when you might need a coronavirus test to fly.
For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Iceland welcomed back some international travelers on June 15, though Americans are still not welcome. But unless travelers want to immediately enter a two-week quarantine, they may be required to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival at Kevlavík International Airport (KEF). Same-day results are expected, and travelers will be permitted to wait for the results at their hotel or other accommodations.
The details: Reports suggested the Icelandic government would pay for the initial tests for incoming travelers — an initiative expected to last about two weeks, according to The Reykjavík Grapevine. After that, travelers will shoulder the cost (about 50,000 Icelandic króna, or $360). Travelers may be able to avoid both the on-site test and the 14-day quarantine by presenting an acceptable clean bill of health obtained before departure.
Though only travelers from within the Schengen Area and exempt individuals are allowed to travel to Austria at this time, Austria recently introduced on-site coronavirus testing at Vienna International Airport (VIE). Similar to the testing process in Iceland, results are available in approximately two to three hours and — if negative — allow travelers to skip the requisite 14-day quarantine.
The details: The tests cost 190 euros (about $206). Travelers can also provide a health certificate from home that shows a negative test result.
Hong Kong is requiring travelers to endure an arduous screening process upon arrival. One Hong Kong-based journalist, Laurel Chor, flew to Hong Kong International (HKG) from Paris (CDG) on May 14 and described an eight-hour ordeal involving paperwork (a quarantine order and a good-health declaration) and a transfer to the AsiaWorld-Expo convention center to self-collect a deep-throat saliva sample for an on-site test. After more than six hours, Chor received her results — negative — and was allowed to leave. Still, she was required to enter a 14-day quarantine and take a follow-up test later.
The details: All asymptomatic, inbound travelers are required to immediately take a shuttle bus to the convention center for specimen collection and testing. Only residents are allowed entry to Hong Kong, and a two-week quarantine is required regardless of the test results.
Incoming travelers will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival in Antigua. Until a clean bill of health is confirmed, travelers will have to remain quarantined. Presenting a negative COVID-19 test taken before arrival can help you bypass some of the screening protocols on the ground.
The details: If you do not take a test before departing for Antigua, travelers may have to pay $100 for the 15-minute test upon arrival, and the results will be released within 48 hours.
Even if you don’t technically need a coronavirus test to board a flight, or need to submit to testing upon arrival, you may very well find yourself seeking a coronavirus test before your next international — or in some cases, domestic — trip. As countries and even states evaluate the global health crisis and make plans to reopen, travelers should expect to see many more destinations welcome only travelers who can provide an official clean bill of health. The requirements for what documentation will be valid will likely vary. Here are just a few examples:
St. Lucia is requiring visitors to present certified proof of a negative PCR (nasal swab) test taken within seven days of travel.
The announcement comes as Emirates introduces a similar rule to select Dubai-bound passengers in early July. The country is making exceptions for children under the age of 12 and anyone with moderate to severe disabilities.
If the UAE government has specified a designated laboratory in the country of origin, then the traveler must get the certificate from that lab. Travelers must first try to arrange a test with a Pure Health medical facility if the country of departure has any approved clinics.
If there are no clinics listed, UAE-based airlines are offering lists of approved clinics where travelers can get test results. Etihad passengers can check this website, and Emirates passengers can look at a list of laboratories here.
Despite these requirements, Emirates passengers departing from select countries and airports will be required to get another test on arrival. For passengers coming from the U.S., those departing from the following airports will be subject to additional testing:
Anyone originating from California, Florida and Texas connecting onto an Emirates flight at an airport not listed above will also be subjected to this on-arrival testing requirement, too.
These provisions aren’t just limited to countries other than the United States. In fact, Hawaii and Alaska will only allow visitors to enter if they present a negative COVID-19 test. The rules are fairly similar but there are slight nuances between the states.
As of June 6, visitors and returning residents to Alaska can present a negative test in lieu of the mandatory two-week quarantine. Travelers can present proof of a negative COVID-19 test completed within 72 hours before boarding their flight. This test must also be the PCR test. Depending on test availability, travelers may be able to have a test done at the airport upon landing.
Additionally, if you get tested within five days of departure and provide negative results, you’ll be asked to take another test upon landing in Alaska. You’ll be required to quarantine until you get the second test results back (usually within 24 to 48 hours), but if they’re negative, you’re free to explore. Children under the age of 2 are exempt from these requirements.
Beginning Aug. 1, travelers to Hawaii with a valid negative COVID-19 test result (taken up to 72 hours before arriving at a Hawaii airport) will not be subject to the 14-day quarantine. You must take an FDA-approved PCR test from a CLIA-certified laboratory before arrival, and no testing will be done at the airport.
Coronavirus testing varies considerably from one location to the next — and not everyone is necessarily eligible.
For more information about coronavirus testing, TPG spoke with Hanh Le, M.D., head of medical affairs at Healthline Media (also owned by TPG’s parent company, Red Ventures).
First things first: Le says travelers should first call their doctor.
Depending on your reasons for seeking a test, you may be able to get a test through your general practitioner. Testing may also be available at your local pharmacy or a walk-in clinic. Your state’s public health lab website will also say whether or not tests are being offered to the public, she added.
“There are an increasing number of [drive-thru] sites offering tests,” Le said, “as well as at-home collection kits.”
You may even be able to get a test from your airport’s XpresSpa, since some locations (starting with New York-JFK) may be ditching airport manicures and massages for coronavirus tests.
What you don’t want to do? Drop by the emergency department at your local hospital for a coronavirus test — unless, of course, you’re actually experiencing a medical emergency.
“You may need to ‘qualify’ for a test in places where there are not enough tests to meet demand,” Le said. “In places where the testing capacity can’t meet demand, criteria for who should receive a test is determined by state and local public health departments and based on the clinical judgment of your healthcare provider.”
In some cities and states, testing is being prioritized for people with certain symptoms and risk factors, Le explained.
The availability of testing can also vary significantly from one clinic to the next in the same area.
Katharine Leitch says she wasn’t able to find anywhere to get a same-day test in Charlotte, North Carolina. Though many places advertised “no appointment needed,” she said, they ultimately required an appointment upon arrival. Many places ran out of tests in the middle of the day, too, and once she was able to get an appointment, was told her time would be bumped. Over 72 hours later, she had not received her results.
But two hours away in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Stella Shon says all the locations are currently testing by appointment only — save for a Walgreens with drive-up testing that can have a 2-hour wait. Shon was able to make a next-day appointment at CVS, however, received a quick nasal swab and had her results within 28 hours.
In New York City, testing seems to be widely available, but can also take too long for destination requiring results within 72 hours before a trip. TPG’s director of video, Tom Grahsler, said he was able to make an appointment for an antibody blood test and an active COVID-19 swab on a Thursday for the following Monday in Brooklyn. The antibody test results were returned in 24 hours, but the active test could take two or three days.
Texas-based staffers say there are a handful of urgent care clinics where you can get a walk-in COVID-19 test. In fact, those without symptoms are able to get a test via the Express Testing Service. But many clinics have reported being out of tests, not having rapid tests, and having wait times many hours long. Summer Hull said she finally waited 90 minutes for a swab test, but won’t receive results for seven to 10 days. Near Round Rock, you can also wait in line for over an hour for a same-day swab, though Lauren Atkinson says those results were returned in 48 hours and that the test cost nothing.
No matter where you’re based, the bottom line is you’ll want to do some research and make an appointment in advance whenever possible.
There are currently two main types of tests being used at this time: viral testing and antibody testing.
“Viral tests can tell us if someone currently has an active infection,” Le explained. “Antibody tests can only tell us if someone has been exposed to the virus in the past.”
Destinations that require the results of a coronavirus test will be looking at viral tests, not antibody tests. “Someone with an active infection is much more likely to spread the virus to others than someone who had the infection in the past or is on the tail-end of an infection,” said Le.
“Since we don’t know if antibodies to the virus provide protection from reinfection, someone with antibodies could also potentially become reinfected during their stay in that country, thus spreading the virus again,” Le added.
“Keep in mind,” Le said, “that none of the tests currently available are 100% accurate.”
There are two types of viral testing, Le said. One uses RT-PCR technology and tests for viral RNA. Though very accurate, RNA tests tend to take longer to produce results — typically three to five days — though you may receive your results faster if the test is run in house or on site.
The other type of viral test is antigen testing, which identifies “parts of proteins” found on the virus. Tests can provide results very quickly — making them more practical for travelers — but are not as sensitive as the aforementioned RNA test.
“[This] means that it may ‘miss’ the proteins, producing a false negative,” Le explained.
So, what’s involved? For viral tests, a healthcare provider may swab the inside of your nose or the back of your throat. A sample of saliva or mucus can also be collected.
An antibody test can only detect if your immune system responded to the virus in the past — it does not “detect an active infection,” Le said.
“Antibodies can also be present when an infection is still active,” Le explained, “but has been in the body long enough to produce a specific immune response. But again, this can’t be used to diagnose an infection.”
At this time, Le added, “It’s not known whether antibodies for SARS-CoV-2 provide protection from reinfection.”
Antibody tests can also return conflicting results — something The Points Guy himself, Brian Kelly, experienced firsthand.
Le told TPG earlier this month that many antibody tests were “rushed to market without the requisite testing.”
Either way, if you’re seeking or require a COVID-19 viral or antibody test, consult your healthcare provider for more information.
An antibody test requires a blood sample. “Some testing sites can run the test in-house, but many will need to send [the sample] to the lab for testing,” said Le.
“Most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, are required to waive fees associated with COVID-19 testing,” Le said. That includes fees associated with the visit or lab testing.
As always, however, there are exceptions. Le recommends you call your health insurance company to find out the specifics of your plan. She added that if you don’t have health insurance, you may be able to take advantage of special enrollment periods opened in response to the health crisis. “These [state-run] plans would cover testing at no cost.”
By now, airlines hoped the Covid crisis would be over. Or at least that the world would be a lot further along in the recovery.
September has arrived, almost nine months since Chinese carriers began facing Covid’s wrath. For the world at large, the crisis is now about seven months old. Conditions, it’s true, are not quite as dire as they were in April.
Governments have relaxed restrictions on domestic travel and in some cases shorthaul international travel (within Europe most notably). Here and there are mild signs of green shoots: leisure travel in China, intra-state travel in Australia, low-cost travel in Russia, etc. There’s still a decent amount of travel to U.S. and European tourist spots like the Rocky Mountains and the beaches of Greece. Global aircraft utilization is certainly up from its April lows.
But total demand — everywhere — remains a fraction of what it was. And airlines, even in China where the recovery is most advanced, continue to lose mammoth sums of money.
The virus, meanwhile, continues to spread, even in places where it was once well controlled. India is a current hotspot. Parts of Europe like Spain are seeing a second wave. The U.S., worst affected among all countries, faces new surges in midwestern states. When will the nightmare end? Hopefully with the arrival of vaccines, likely available in mass quantities next spring or summer.
August finished with a lineup of airline earnings announcements, which of course featured no actual earnings. Just losses. Massive losses. Some like Qantas seemed relatively upbeat, with plenty of cash and ample exposure to areas of the business poised to recovery quicky, most importantly leisure and family-visit shorthaul demand. Exposure to cargo is a huge plus.
In some cases — Qantas is one — loyalty plans are still contributing positively. China’s major airlines, for their part, all posted heavy Q2 losses. Domestic traffic is recovering but still down sharply from year-ago levels. Domestic capacity, in any case, is returning much faster. And intercontinental flying remains largely dormant.
Even amid the quietude, airlines are busy with post-pandemic strategizing. Southwest, joining the parade of carriers beefing up on leisure exposure, will head to Miami for the first time. Intercontinental giants like United, also chasing leisure, are trying to fit themselves into LCC-like clothing. Virgin Atlantic seeks family-visit traffic in Pakistan. Wizz Air will challenge easyJet at London Gatwick. India’s Vistara began realizing its global ambitions with flights to London Heathrow.
The fourth quarter ahead looks bleak. Much bleaker, sadly, than airlines hoped would be the case by then.
May-July 2020 (3 Months)
April-June 2020 (3 Months)
January-June (6 Months)
*Net result in USD/*Net result excluding special items/ Operating margin
Since the onset of Covid-19, myths about its origins and its very nature have abounded. In this article, we discuss 10 of the most stubborn misconceptions and why it’s important for event planners to see past the rhetoric.
It’s easy to get caught up in arguments about Covid-19. The pandemic has disrupted so many aspects of life that are normally taken for granted. Now that event professionals have to make decisions about aspects of social interaction that were once simply a matter of routine, it’s more important than ever to understand the debate.
While there is certainly room for differences of opinion, it’s also important to understand what the facts are. Staying up-to-date and informed will ensure that each decision, from the event’s mask-wearing policy to its choice of venue, benefits from accurate and relevant data. The event’s official messaging should reflect the most accurate scientific information currently available.
The difficulty here comes from the task of separating fact from fiction. Oftentimes, the more persistent myths surrounding Covid-19 are either based on faulty assumptions or some over-extension of logic.
To help event planners make educated decisions for their events, this article provides guidance on some of the most hotly-debated issues.
If masks work so well, why is social distancing necessary? And if social distancing works, why should anyone have to wear a mask?
The answer is that neither of these methods is 100 percent effective. They are partial solutions that help to reduce the likelihood of transmission, but they don’t eliminate this risk entirely. We need both in the same way that we need both speed limits and seat belts to help minimize the risk of fatalities in car accidents. For indoor events in particular, planners should set rules that require attendees to wear masks while also remaining at least 6 feet apart.
According to many detractors, mask wearing can cause hypoxia (insufficient oxygen, or O₂) and hypercapnia (too much carbon dioxide, or CO₂). The argument is that if masks filter out viral particles, they must also restrict how much O₂ and CO₂ can pass through. This line of thinking fails to take into account the dramatic difference in scale between viral particles and gaseous molecules.
A SARS-CoV-2 particle is roughly 100 nanometers (nm) in diameter, while a O₂ molecule is around .27 nm and a CO₂ molecule is about .33 nm — in other words, an individual virus particle is literally over 300 times larger than either molecule. Moreover, the virus travels through the air in droplets that are at least 10 times the size of an individual virus particle, which effectively makes viral air contaminants, at minimum, over 3,000 times bigger than either O₂ or CO₂ molecules.
While medical masks may slow down the velocity of a person’s airflow, the barrier isn’t nearly airtight enough to block O₂ and CO₂ molecules from passing through; masks don’t even filter out 100 percent of viral droplets. For those who are still unconvinced, several medical professionals have posted videos demonstrating that their oxygen levels remain constant after putting on their masks for work.
Unless an attendee has a documented health condition that makes breathing difficult even under normal circumstances, there is no medical reason to justify someone refusing to wear a mask.
While it is possible that some microbes could potentially proliferate on a mask that is worn repeatedly without washing, it is impossible for this phenomenon to happen with SARS-CoV-2. That’s because it is a virus, and viruses are unable to replicate without first hijacking a living host cell. While SARS-CoV-2 can continue to remain infectious on external surfaces for a period of time, it cannot actually increase its numbers this way — it will either stay at the same level of infectiousness, or in all likelihood, begin to die.
If you are supplying disposable masks for your attendees, one mask per day should be sufficient to avoid a hygiene issue.
In recent months, there has been some hype online about attendees using color-coded bracelets to indicate their social distancing preferences. Early examples set green bracelets — the most relaxed option — at “okay with hugs & high fives.” Since then, the bar has been moved to start at “OK with proximity talking and elbow bumps.”
According to Steven Adelman, a lawyer by profession and VP of the Event Safety Alliance, it is necessary to enforce consistent social distancing standards to minimize both the risk of transmission and the associated liabilities.
It is not just about the risk that individual attendees are willing to accept for themselves; every single new Covid-19 case contributes to multiple more opportunities for the virus to spread, making the environment less safe for everyone.
The single factor that makes respiratory infections so difficult to contain is the potential for transmission through contaminated air, and cleaning surfaces does nothing to prevent this mode of contagion. In late May, the CDC released updated guidelines explaining that, while it may be possible to catch Covid-19 by touching contaminated surfaces, person-to-person transmission is by far the bigger risk factor. Deep cleaning may reduce the risk of spread, but it is not a solution in itself.
To combat the risk of airborne transmission, event planners should speak to indoor venues about the quality of their ventilation systems.
While thermal screening is yet another useful tool in the fight against Covid-19 transmission, it is not a foolproof way to catch every case. As explained in an earlier EventMB post, pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic cases won’t involve a fever, and even symptomatic individuals may not have a fever throughout the duration of their illness (if at all).
Many arguments against Covid-19 safety measures rest on the idea that partial protection is useless. According to this thinking, if any virus particles make it past the 6 feet of mandated distance or through a mask’s barrier, there is no point in either measure.
This logic fails to take into account convincing evidence that infection dose — the amount of virus that a person is exposed to — has a significant impact on both the likelihood of transmission and the severity of potential illness. From the perspective of event planners, it’s important to keep in mind that every step toward greater safety can make a difference.
While it’s true that elderly people are far more likely to die from Covid-19 than young adults, this gap isn’t quite as wide when it comes to hospitalizations. According to statistics from the CDC, those in the 65 to 74 age group are 90 times more likely to die from Covid-19 than young adults, but only 5 times more likely to be hospitalized.
There is also the perception that all of the severe cases among younger people can be linked to underlying conditions; while it’s true that hypertension and morbid obesity appear to be significant aggravating factors, there are rare cases where young people with no pre-existing conditions die from Covid-19.
Researchers have isolated at least one genetic variant that may be responsible for more severe cases among otherwise healthy young men, but we are still largely in the dark when it comes to predicting who might be one of the unfortunate few.
Moreover, young and healthy adults may be major drivers of transmission, so much so that some researchers are arguing that young adults should be prioritized when vaccinations first become available. The reality is that, if you allow the virus to proliferate in your community, the viral dose in any instance of exposure is that much more likely to be high than if everyone is taking measures to be careful, and infection dose affects potential outcomes across age groups.
Even for event planners who cater to a younger demographic, it is important to enforce standard health and safety measures.
The spike in US cases during the summer months has mostly dispelled the idea that hot weather would mean the end of Covid-19, but there are still many who insist on the relevance of climate. To be fair, the verdict is still out on how much the weather might influence Covid-19, both in terms of transmission rates and the disease’s severity. Will winter bring an even bigger surge?
Medical News Today recently published a review of the research, and several studies suggest that humidity may be the most concrete environmental factor, with 40 to 60 percent humidity consistently being associated with lower rates of transmission and milder symptoms.
These insights suggest that planners should speak to venue managers about keeping indoor humidity levels in the mid ranges wherever possible. Temperature may also have some influence, but it is too difficult to tell at this stage because other factors — such as social distancing or the lack thereof — have a much bigger influence.
Perhaps even more importantly for events, recirculated indoor air increases the risk of transmission, so any weather that pushes people to spend more time inside is likely to drive up case numbers, whether it be frigid temperatures or excessive heat. If the weather in your region will be forcing the general population to spend more time indoors, it is reasonable to predict a corresponding surge in cases and plan for increased health and safety measures.
It is still not clear how much of a role asymptomatic carriers play in the spread of Covid-19, but there is mounting evidence that pre-symptomatic transmission is a very real threat.
A recent study based on viral load levels predicted that 44 percent of secondary cases are contracted while the carrier is still presymptomatic. Studies based on contact tracing, however, have found that presymptomatic transmission accounts for 6.4 to 12.6 percent of cases.
Although there is still some uncertainty around just how likely presymptomatic carriers are to spread the infection, it is now clear that it is definitely possible to transmit SARS-CoV-2 without showing symptoms.
For event planners, this means that screening out symptomatic attendees is not a guarantee that the event will be free from transmission risk. Other health and safety measures still need to be maintained.
When it comes to Covid-19, it is difficult to feel confident in any factual claims. Researchers are only just beginning to understand how the virus attacks the body, and they have been continually revising their advice on how to reduce transmission rates. Nevertheless, there is a growing body of data-based evidence that event planners can turn to when trying to make the right decisions for their events.
Staying up-to-date on the latest information isn’t just a question of reading everything that’s published online — it’s also about separating fact from fiction. Just as researchers revise their conclusions when confronted with new data, so should everyone else.
Yet another sign of how uncontrolled the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. is came from Australian carrier Qantas. CEO Alan Joyce said the company likely won’t resume its U.S. routes until the end of 2021, and only if an effective vaccine or therapeutic is found to control the spread of the disease.
Qantas shut down its international operation early on, as Australia imposed strict travel restrictions to contain the virus. The carrier operated dozens of repatriation flights to bring Australians back from China, Japan, and the U.S.
But Joyce believes the international network won’t restart until about July of next year, with U.S. routes to follow later, when the virus is under control. International routes will resume, of course, as travel restrictions around the world are eased, he noted. Trans-Tasman routes to New Zealand could re-start earlier, he said.
Qantas has signaled its international network’s future could be smaller. It retired its fleet of aging Boeing 747-400s and has put its Airbus A380s in long-term storage. The carrier is deferring deliveries of new Boeing 787-9s.
Qantas’ domestic network is operating at about 20% of pre-pandemic levels, and was a source of strength. But recent Covid-19 outbreaks in Melbourne and internal travel restrictions have put a damper on the recovery.
As with many carriers around the world, cargo has been a bright spot for Qantas during the pandemic. Freight revenues reached a “record,” Joyce said, up 8% year-over-year.
Overall, though, the airline didn’t fare as well. On track to report a record year in 2020, instead the carrier reported a 91% plunge in profits, eking out an $88 million profit for the year before the pandemic took hold.
The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) today released an analysis on the economic and human struggle of the hotel industry six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, with millions of employees still furloughed or laid off and travel demand lagging far behind normal levels.
Key findings of the report include:
• Four out of 10 hotel employees are still not working.
• Almost two-thirds (65%) of hotels remain at or below 50 percent occupancy, which is below the threshold at which most hotels can break even and pay debt.
• Consumer travel remains at all-time low, with only 33 percent of Americans reporting they have traveled overnight for leisure or vacation since March and just 38 percent saying they are likely to travel by the end of the year.
• Urban hotels are suffering the most and facing collapse with cripplingly low occupancies of 38 percent, significantly below the national average.
• COVID-19 has left hotels in major cities across the country struggling to stay in business, resulting in massive job loss and dramatically reducing state and local tax revenue for 2020 and beyond.
The prolonged economic impact of the pandemic has taken an incredible toll on the hotel industry, with no sign of a recovery in sight.
While hotels have seen an uptick in demand during the summer compared to where we were in April, occupancy rates are nowhere near where they were a year ago. Thousands of hotels can’t afford to pay their mortgages and are facing the possibility of foreclosure and closing their doors permanently.
The industry is incredibly worried about the fall and what the drop in demand will mean for the sector and the millions of employees it has been unable to bring back. The job loss will be devastating to the industry, the communities, and the overall American economy. US hotel sector needs urgent, bipartisan action from Congress now.
As a result of the sharp and sustained drop in travel demand, industry leaders say hotels are now facing the harsh reality of deciding whether to close their doors permanently. Hoteliers are urging Congress to move swiftly to help the industry through a targeted extension of the Paycheck Protection Program, establishing a commercial mortgage backed securities market relief fund, and making structural changes to the Main Street Lending Facility to ensure hotel companies can access the program.
US hotel industry is in crisis. Thousands of hotels are in jeopardy of closing forever, and that will have a ripple effect throughout the communities for years to come. Hospitality sector needs help urgently to keep hotels open so that the industry and its employees can survive and recover from this public health crisis.
In this time, for any airline to report traffic growth is news. But Pobeda, Aeroflot’s low-cost carrier, did in July. Traffic rose 2%, compared with the 72% decline for the mainline carrier.
This tracks with IATA’s passenger report for the month. Although international traffic remains dismal, some domestic markets are showing signs of life, particularly China and Russia. Domestic demand in Russia was down only 17% in July, compared with 73% for the U.S. Pobeda is primarily a domestic carrier, while mainline Aeroflot has a large international network.
Russians have begun traveling again, to a degree. And given travel restrictions in popular international destinations, more Russians are taking holidays at home, Aeroflot executives said during the company’s earnings call.
Another factor, they said, is that there are few alternatives to air travel in a country as vast as Russia. This last factor explains why domestic markets in China, the U.S., and Brazil to cite a few examples, have been stronger, relatively, than those of smaller countries or ones with efficient alternatives to air travel.
Despite Pobeda’s relative strength, the Aeroflot Group did not escape the plague afflicting airlines worldwide. Group-wide revenues were down 52% in the second quarter. Traffic plunged 89% for the group. Besides Pobeda, another bright spot for the group was cargo, with revenues up 64% year-over-year.
In a letter to government transportation officials seen by Reuters, the chief executives of Airlines for America, Airlines UK, Heathrow Airport and Virgin Atlantic Airways said both governments should “establish passenger testing solutions in air travel.
“We believe that in the immediate absence of a vaccine, testing of passengers in aviation provides the best and most effective frontline defense.”
They urged the governments to establish a testing trial between New York and London by month’s end “to gather real world evidence and data."
Sharon Pinkerton, senior vice president at Airlines for America, which represents American Airlines Co, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and others, told reporters on Thursday the industry wanted a pilot program to help boost international travel.
U.S. international travel has fallen by 87% during the coronavirus pandemic, which has battered the airline industry.
“One of the key steps to recovery is setting up an international pilot program between the U.S. and either Europe, Canada, somewhere in the Pacific,” she said, saying that could help eliminate some of the international quarantines now in place.
The U.S. Transportation Department said it “stands ready to support the safe resumption of international flights between the U.S. and Europe. Conversations are ongoing between the federal government, international partners, and industry stakeholders on these matters.”
A UK government representative declined to comment on the proposal.
In March, U.S. President Donald Trump barred most non-U.S. citizens who had been in the UK recently from entering the United States – restrictions also imposed on travelers in the European Union and China.
Americans can travel to the UK but have been required since spring to spend two weeks in quarantine on arrival.
Adults usually aren't allowed to wear costumes to the Disney World theme parks during regular operating hours.
Editor’s Note: Travel might be complicated right now, but use our inspirational trip ideas to plan ahead for your next bucket list adventure.
If you’ve ever dreamed of dressing up like your favorite princess and posing in front of Cinderella’s Castle or donning your best Captain Jack Sparrow attire for a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean, now’s your chance.
Even though the Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party events were canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Magic Kingdom is transforming into an autumnal wonderland, complete with adorable seasonal treats, Halloween-themed character cavalcades, and plenty of Mickey jack-o-lanterns and fall foliage from Sept. 15 to Oct. 31. Plus, for the first time, guests of all ages — yes, even adults — can wear their Halloween costumes to Magic Kingdom during regular operating hours during this period.
Typically, guests ages 14 and older are not allowed to wear costumes to the Disney theme parks, although some costumes are permitted during special events like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, and Disney Villains
After Hours. Of course, there are still a number of rules that limit acceptable costumes even during these events — you can find the full guidelines on the Disney World website.
According to a recent post on the Disney Parks Blog, from Sept. 15 to Oct. 31, kids and adults can wear their favorite costumes to Magic Kingdom, but costume masks are not permitted for guests ages 14 years or older. Don’t forget to wear your approved face coverings, too — they’re required in the theme parks.
Because adults usually aren’t allowed to wear costumes to the theme parks, a trend called “Disneybounding” has gained popularity in recent years.
Disneybounders use normal clothes to channel their favorite characters rather than wearing a full costume. To Disneybound as Snow White, for example, you might wear a yellow skirt with a blue top and red cardigan, using the colors of the princess’s costume as inspiration for a modern-day twist on the outfit.
You can find entire Instagram accounts and blogs devoted to this Disney-themed trend — just search the hashtag #disneybound (which currently has over 1.3 million posts) to see what creative Disney fans have come up with.
The world’s largest hotel company is slated to significantly streamline its headcount next month at its global headquarters in Maryland.
Marriott plans to lay off 673 employees on October 23, according to a Work Adjustment and Retraining Notification filed earlier this month with the Maryland Department of Labor. The permanent job cuts impact roughly 17 percent of employees at the Bethesda, Maryland, headquarters, where Marriott employs about 4,000 people.
Marriott confirmed the pending layoffs Monday morning to Skift but declined to elaborate which departments would be impacted by the decision.
However, the company is also expecting to welcome back in late September a “significant number” of employees currently on furlough, Marriott spokesperson Connie Kim said.
Marriott furloughed tens of thousands of employees in March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic’s catastrophic impact on travel demand. The company’s CEO, Arne Sorenson, has repeatedly described the global health crisis as having a worse impact on the company than the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and 2008 financial crisis combined.
But Sorenson has also maintained he does not think the impact of the crisis would leave lasting damage to the hotel industry or the kind of group business travel it relies on.
“Having been through three crises [the Gulf War, the Sept. 11 attacks, and the 2008 financial crisis] … In every one of those, we have heard people say we will not go back to travel the way we did before,” Sorenson said last month at a Cvent webinar. “I take that with a grain of salt. Not that there won’t be a change, but people yearn to be together.”
There is significantly less capital flowing into the hotel industry today than there was at the beginning of 2020 due to the pandemic and ensuing travel demand uncertainty.
Design and development teams are likely to field a brunt of staff reductions due to the hotel industry seeing a slowdown in new construction activity and renovations, said Sean Hennessey, a professor at New York University’s Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality.
But Marriott’s layoffs likely won’t stop at just those departments.
“Most of the companies in my experience will try to spread the reductions in staffing across the platform so that one department doesn’t feel like it’s being singled out or treated unfairly relative to others,” Hennessey added. “Everyone feels the pain.”
Marriott’s job cuts are the latest in a wave of layoffs, as the hotel industry settles into what many expect to be years of travel uncertainty.
Hyatt laid off 1,300 employees in May. Hilton eliminated 2,100 corporate roles — or about 22 percent of its corporate workforce — in June. Accor’s corporate belt-tightening includes laying off 1,000 employees and a potential sale of its Parisian headquarters.
MGM Resorts announced in late August plans to lay off 18,000 staffers across its gaming resorts, but those roles weren’t limited to corporate staff.
While Sorenson indicated revenue at Marriott’s China portfolio could return to pre-pandemic performance levels as early as next year, U.S. hotels aren’t expected to fully recover to 2019 revenue levels until 2024, according to hotel data provider STR.
[UPDATE: After publication, this story was updated to include analysis on what departments may be most impacted by Marriott’s layoffs at corporate headquarters.]
PHOTO: BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card rapid test kit from Abbott Laboratories. (Photo courtesy of Abbott Laboratories)
Abbott Laboratories announced on August 26 that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for its BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card rapid test for the detection of coronavirus infection. The point-of-care, rapid test, which is highly portable and can be run outside the laboratory system, produces results in just 15 minutes and costs only $5.
Roughly the size of a credit card, BinaxNOW tests are self-contained and require no special equipment in order to process samples or read test results, although they still must be administered by a medical professional.
As with traditional COVID-19 tests, a nasal swab is required to obtain a sample from the patient for testing. Unlike PCR tests, which must be submitted to a lab for processing and the results of which take several days to be reported, BinaxNOW detects antigens (proteins found on the surface of the COVID-19 virus), instead of the virus itself.
The U.S. government has already agreed to purchase 150 million of these rapid tests from Abbott, which will start shipping tens of millions of tests in September, and plans to ramp up production to supply 50 million tests per month at the beginning of October.
Abbott’s clinical study, conducted with several leading U.S. research universities, showed the BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card to have a 97.1-percent sensitivity (meaning that it produces positive results in the presence of the COVID-19 antigen) and 98.5-percent specificity (meaning that it produces negative results when the antigen is not present).
Accordingly, this test can be expected to produce 2.9-percent false negatives and 1.5-percent false positives—meaning that it’s not infallible, but should still go a long way towards identifying and isolating carriers of the virus from the general population.
Under the FDA’s EUA, the BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card can be used only by medical professionals—including doctors, nurses, school nurses, medical assistants and technicians, pharmacists, employer occupational health specialists, etc.—in point-of-care settings operating under CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments) approval.
While there aren’t currently enough rapid tests to make them widely accessible to travelers or to test everyone passing through U.S. airports, just the notion that a more readily-available, reliable, cheaper and faster testing option is becoming a reality caused airline stocks to shoot upward last week, according to One Mile at a Time.
Abbott is simultaneously releasing NAVICA mobile app, available on both Apple and Android platforms at no charge to patients, that will enable them to display their results when entering certain facilities that require proof of a negative test. The first-of-its-kind app will provide those who test negative with a QR code that serves as a temporary digital health pass, which expires after an interim determined by the organizations that accept it.
"While BinaxNOW is the hardware that makes knowing your COVID-19 status possible, the NAVICA app is the digital network that allows people to share that information with those who need to know," said Robert B. Ford, president and chief executive officer of Abbott. "We're taking our know-how from our digitally-connected medical devices and applying it to our diagnostics at a time when people expect their health information to be digital and readily accessible."
For more information, visit abbott.com.
Top-level American and British officials are reportedly in talks about the possibility of creating a transatlantic “air bridge” that would allow flights between low-risk areas of the U.S. and the United Kingdom (U.K.) that would eliminate the need for travelers to quarantine.
“There are discussions going on at a very senior level around opening up London and New York. They are at a very early stage but it is vital to get business going with a major trading partner especially as we near Brexit,” an undisclosed source told The Telegraph.
It’s thought that, at least initially, the air bridge would be made available only to residents of London and New York City, as well as surrounding areas, where COVID-19 infection rates are relatively low. The aim would be to boost business and leisure travel in two of the world’s most prominent cities whose economies both rely heavily on tourism, as well as international commerce.
Currently, British travelers are still banned from the U.S. under an order issued by the Trump administration back in March. Conversely, U.S. are currently citizens are allowed to enter the United Kingdom, but are required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival or risk facing a $1,245 fine, the Daily Mail reported.
Meanwhile, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is also engaging in efforts to safety restore international travel, and encouraging the introduction of air corridors among the world’s top financial centers that can begin repairing the economic devastation brought on by the pandemic.
Even if it does get off the ground, the WTTC’s proposed pilot program for travel between New York and London will require at least two rounds of airport-based COVID-19 testing, which health officials predict could produce as much as an 80-percent success rate in detecting infected travelers.
Of course, the ever-fluctuating rate of new infections in both these cities may delay any such plans from materializing While a few weeks ago, the incidence of new COVID-19 cases in London was 11.3 per 100,000 residents, numbers have since increased to 25 per 100,000 in the greater London area, according to information from The New York Times. NYC’s incidence rate remains much lower, at 3.2 per 100,000 residents.
The agency now says travelers can follow quarantine guidelines of the state or territory they're visiting or returning to.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now advising travelers to follow local isolation guidelines of where they're visiting instead of its overall 14-day quarantine rule that was implemented earlier this year.
No longer specifying that international travelers must self-isolate as of Monday, the agency now recommends that people, “Follow state, territorial, tribal and local recommendations or requirements after travel.”
The CDC also said people should “take extra precautions” if they participate in a “higher risk” activity, including visiting “an area that is experiencing high levels of COVID-19 spread” and traveling on a cruise ship. Those precautions include staying home “as much as possible,” avoiding contact with compromised or older people, and getting tested for the virus.
“You may have been exposed to COVID-19 on your travels,” the CDC wrote in its advisory. “You may feel well and not have any symptoms, but you can be contagious without symptoms and spread the virus to others. You and your travel companions (including children) pose a risk to your family, friends, and community for 14 days after you were exposed to the virus.”
Several states and cities have implemented their own mandatory quarantine measures for travelers coming from areas with high rates of COVID-19 infections. New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut require visitors from dozens of states and territories to self-isolate, Chicago has a similar quarantine order in place, and Massachusetts requires out-of-state arrivals to either show a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival or agree to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Several other states have implemented quarantine measures or testing requirements for certain visitors, including Alaska, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
While the CDC no longer specifies travelers must quarantine, the agency does recommend anyone who returns from a trip wear a mask when outside, wash their hands often and remain vigilant for symptoms of COVID-19.
The map features a color-coded map and a drop-down menu of more detailed restrictions and state-specific rules.
Aiming to make deciding where to travel a bit easier, as COVID-19 continues to spark restrictions and rules for traveling around the United States, United Airlines created an interactive, color-coded map detailing everything travelers need to know ahead of planning a trip.
The map lists everything from whether or not entry into a state is allowed, potential quarantine measures, testing requirements, and even mask mandates for all 50 states and Washington D.C., the company shared with Travel + Leisure. Travelers can see if restaurants, tourist sites, or hotels are open and if there are any specific restrictions in place.
"We know it's a challenge to keep up with the ever-changing list of travel restrictions, policies and regulations so we are offering a simple, easy tool that helps customers decide where to travel next," Linda Jojo, the executive vice president for technology and chief digital officer, said in a statement.
"By providing the most up-to-date information on the destinations we serve, customers can compare and shop for travel with greater confidence and help them find the destinations that best fit their preferences."
The map's color-coded feature and drop-down menu offer more detailed restrictions and state-specific rules.
Several states have implemented quarantine or testing measures for out-of-state visitors. New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, for example, require travelers from dozens of states to self-isolate for two weeks when entering the tri-state area. Similarly, Hawaii requires visitors to quarantine and has pushed back its plan to welcome tourists again until at least October.
United’s new feature comes as the airline eliminated most change fees on domestic flights and committed to allowing all customers to fly same-day standby for free on both domestic and international flights. Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and Alaska Airlines then followed suit.
United isn’t alone in trying to inform passengers before hopping on a flight. Google Travel introduced a similar feature, linking to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Travel Health Notices.
Restriction expiration: September 1, 2020.
General Restrictions for US Pax:
General Restrictions for others: Nonresident foreign nationals remain barred from entering the country until further notice. Flights into Argentina require special permission from the authorities, including technical stops and crew rest stops. Special allowance may be given for air ambulance flights and official flights. Restrictions are currently in place for flights from all countries.
A special permit is required for all operations, and will require a minimum 72 hrs. for processing. Requests can only be made Monday to Friday by ANAC (Civil aviation national administration). A Health Declaration Form is required (this is a Legal Declaration of Health) along with the immigration form to be completed by all Pax and Crew. Proof of negative COVID-19 test taken within 48 hrs of aircraft arrival into Argentina or a doctor’s note issued within 48hrs and documenting no symptoms of COVID-19 is required.
Passenger Restrictions: Any inbound passengers must undertake 14-day quarantine in a hotel designated by the government in the capital city. In the Provinces, you can quarantine in your home.
Crew Restrictions: Crews are unable to rest on the aircraft. Crew can rest at an off-airport hotel. Crew members are allowed to stay 24 hrs and depart to their destination or they can be in quarantine as passengers during 14 days.
Tech Stop Specifics: All Normal services are available. Crew and Pax cannot leave the aircraft.
General restrictions for U.S. pax:
General Restrictions: International flights are allowed. Passengers will require a negative COVID-19 test not older than 7 days. The test must be checked by the local Bolivian Consulate of the country of origin. COVID-19 negative test is mandatory to enter Bolivia (not older than 14 days) for all passengers and crew.
COVID-19 negative test is mandatory to enter Bolivia (not older than 7days) for all passengers and crew.
People on board, except crew, shall not be permitted to disembark without authorization.
Crew Restrictions: Crew rest at hotels is permitted with a COVID-19 negative test.
Tech Stop Details: Possible with passengers on board; no one can leave the aircraft. Some handling services like catering and VIP lounge are unavailable.
Please refer to your Universal Team for additional specifics.
General Restrictions for US Pax:
General Restrictions: Non-Brazil citizens can now enter the country via air transportation. Brazil has reopened its borders to foreigners effective immediately. Anyone can enter, and tourists are allowed into the country for up to 90 days with no quarantine.
Health insurance is required for foreign passengers.
Crew restrictions: Active crew entering Brazil will not need to quarantine prior to departing on commercial airlines. Once in Brazil they are free to move around. Crews also are not required to present a Health Insurance certificate that is valid in all Brazilian territory.
Tech Stop Details: Tech stops for refueling – passengers may not disembark.
Please check with your Universal team for specifics.
General Restrictions for US Pax:
General Restrictions: The only passengers allowed to enter Chile until further notice are Chilean Citizens and Chilean residents, they need to have their personal document valid, each one of the passengers must be a Citizen or a resident, Visas can not be arranged at arrival. Diplomatic passengers are exempt if they have a consular permit issued by a Chilean authority. Any person allowed to enter will have to complete a 14 days quarantine or their place of residence or a Hotel.
Authorities have banned nonresident foreign nationals from entering the country.
Crew Restrictions: Crew rest is allowed with no time restriction, but the crew must remain socially distant in their hotel.
General Restrictions for US Pax:
General Restrictions: An order to ban all entries from air travel remains in place. The ban includes Colombian citizens abroad, but it exempts cargo shipments and flights for humanitarian purposes.All flights coming in or out of Colombia require a permit from the CAA. Permit takes at least 72 business hours to be approved once all required documents are submitted. Business flights are not yet allowed. Humanitarian flights, with passengers arriving in Colombia, require 14 day quarantine. Crew and passengers must complete a health locator form.
Crew: Crew are allowed one over night stop. After that normal 14 day quarantine rules apply. Overnight for crews is allowed at approved hotels.
General Restrictions for US Pax:
– New York– New Jersey– New Hampshire– Maine– Vermont– Connecticut
Passengers must prove their residency in one of those states using their driver’s license.
Passengers must obtain a negative PCR-RT test within 48 hours of their flight and purchase a travel-insurance plan that covers COVID-19. (This can be a pre-approved Costa Rican plan, or a foreign one that meets the actual requirements for insurance.
Types of US passenger flights allowed: Business, Leisure/Tourism, and Tech Stops-If from allowed state.
Country website resources: http://costarica-embassy.org/index.php?q=node/150
General Restrictions for others: Foreign nationals from European Union countries, Canada and UK may enter the country as of Aug. 01, 2020. All INTL Flights with Passengers must arrive at MROC ONLY.
As per Costa Rican Government announcement, as of August 01, MROC and MRLB airports will allow operations and passengers coming from the following countries:
Crew: For crew it is not required to fill the epidemiology form at arrival, and crew are able to overnight if needed. All crew staying overnight no longer require the health pass, COVID-19 test, nor insurance. Crew rest is available for 72 hours once their health is inspected by the Health Department upon arrival (COVID-19 TEST). Crew rest is available on aircraft if a transit operation (just a couple of hours).
Tech Stop Details: Passenger cannot enter the country unless they are Costa Rican Citizens. Crew may enter the country. PPR is required 48 hours before landing.
Special Considerations: Universal Aviation Costa Rica suggests landing at MROC through the General Aviation Terminal because they have the protocol for health inspection at arrival and the passenger can be pick up at MROC airport. If they prefer, Universal Aviation Costa Rica can set up a ground transportation for them to the other airport (takes 15 minutes).
General Restrictions for US Pax:
General Restrictions: Ecuadorian Government has partially opened its borders, allowing Pax from many countries except Brazil and China.
Passenger Restrictions: Any flights with more than 09 passengers need prior permission from authorities. Ecuadorian citizens or legal residents are allowed to enter.
Passengers from these countries/regions are being allowed to enter
Pax must also show upon arrival a negative PCR test of COVID-19, taken within 10 days prior to flight. Quarantine is no longer required for Ecuador.
Crew Restrictions: Crew rest or overnight is possible in Ecuador. Crew rest is allowed at a hotel for up for one night. More than one night, quarantine must be completed.
Tech Stops: Tech stops are allowed; however, only crew can leave the aircraft.
General restrictions for U.S. pax:
General Restrictions: All ports of entry remain closed to nonresident foreign nationals. Only Salvadorans, legal foreign residents, and accredited diplomats may enter the country. Any person entering the country will be screened by health officials to determine if they must remain in self-quarantine.
Please refer to your Universal Team for additional specifics.
General Restrictions for US PAX:
General Restrictions for All Others: As of 24 AUG, the government maintains its temporary entry ban on all nonresident foreign nationals and the suspension of all international passenger flights until September 19.
Passenger Restrictions: Only Guatemalan Citizens, Residents, and Diplomats with prior permission, allowed. No foreign nationals allowed entry until further notice. Pax must bring the COVID-19 Certificated Negative Test Results valid for 72 hours. Quarantine rules: 14 to 21 days at hotel or home. Pax will be tested upon arrival.
Crew Restrictions: For Foreign Crew, they must bring the COVID-19 certificated negative valid for 72 hours in case they want to overnight in Guatemala and with previous approval of the government. May overnight at off-airport hotel with MINEX approval. Quarantine rules: 14 to 21 days at hotel or home.
Please refer to your Universal Team for additional specifics.
General restrictions for U.S. pax:
General Restrictions: The authorities in Guyana have extended all existing restrictions through Sep 30.
Airports are currently closed to all international passenger flights into Guyana.
To get permission to fly to Guyana, a formal request is to be made to the Director General GCAA at least three working days prior to the proposed flight.
Please refer to your Universal Team for additional specifics.
General Restrictions for US Pax:
General Restrictions: International flights from all four international airports resumed Aug. 17. All incoming international travelers are required to complete the immigration precheck form and must present a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival, taken within 72 hours prior to departure.
Private flights will still require prior authorization to operate and are not covered included in the Aug 10 operational opening.
General Restrictions for US Pax:
General Restrictions: Commercial flights have been delayed until early Sept due to COVID-19. Repatriation flights are still continuing.
Landing Permits are required and require the following: negative COVID-19 tests (SARS-COV-2 RNA, QL Real Time RT PCR) for crew and passengers issued 72 hours prior to arrival, and aircraft fumigation certificate must be issued 72 working hours in advance. 15 day quarantine is required.
Crew Restrictions: No overnight Allowed. Crew do not have to do 14 day quarantine. They only have to quarantine for the duration of their stay.
General Restrictions for US PAX:
General Restrictions: No foreigners are allowed to enter unless they have an authorization from the chancellor or there’s an emergency situation.
Passenger Restrictions: Panamanian nationals and residents returning to the country need to self-quarantine for 14 days at place of residence.
Crew: No overnight is allowed. Crew can rest on the aircraft (without clearing customs). Crew do not have to quarantine.
General restrictions for U.S. pax:
General Restrictions: As of 31 Aug, the international borders remain closed, and suspension of all commercial passenger flights at all airports will continue until further notice. Officials will make limited exceptions for repatriation flights. Foreign flights for repatriation purposes, cargo flights, SAR, emergency flights, and inspection flights are authorized. Humanitarian flights, medevac and technical stop will be approved by the corresponding authority with prior coordination.
Crew Restrictions: Crew rest at a hotel is possible; crew cannot leave hotel if on crew rest. Crew cannot rest on the aircraft.
General Restrictions for US PAX:
General restrictions: No foreign nationals are allowed to enter the country. Exceptions can be made for cargo, emergency, SAR, humanitarian, medevac and state flights.
Quarantine rules are 15 continuous days, in establishments coordinated by the government and ministry of health, for Crew and PAX.
Crew: May rest at hotel and may rest at off site hotels. Crew will not have quarantine requirements.
Please refer to your Universal Team for additional specifics.
General Restrictions for US Pax:
General restrictions for all others: Non-resident foreign nationals are banned from entering Uruguay. Entry ban does not apply to cargo operations. Passenger, commercial, and/or private flights may only operate in country in case of moving Uruguayan citizens.
Crew: A health declaration and temperature measure will be required on arrival. Crew are allowed to overnight and rest in the Hotel, but cannot leave Hotel. Hotels are available 20 minutes from the airport. Crew rest aboard the aircraft is limited to 2 or 3 hours. Crew are exempt, but only for crew rest.
Restriction expiration: September 12, 2020
General Restrictions for US Pax:
General Restrictions: Authorities have extended the ban on all domestic and international passenger flights through at September 12th.
Cargo, humanitarian, medevac and repatriation flights have been exempt from the ban.
Passenger Restrictions: Passengers are required to have a COVID-19 Test of less than one week maybe accepted by the Health Officer on duty. All passengers will be screened and if overnighting will be tested with via blood sample.
Crew: Crew rest is allowed but will be under the strict mandatory quarantine procedures at the state facility for the length of crew rest.
The World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) latest research indicates that, with this year’s COVID-induced collapse of international tourism, the U.S. economy is set to lose $155 billion in 2020.
This catastrophic upset to the American economy is tantamount to a shortfall of $425 million a day, or almost $3 billion per week.
International travel spending in the U.S. during 2019 reached $195.1 billion, accounting for 16 percent of the country’s total tourism-sector spending. That’s nearly $16.3 billion each month, which equates to $3.7 billion every week or $534.5 million per day.
The virtual evaporation of global travel activity for the better part of 2020 could result in international visitor spending declining by an astounding 79 percent, according to WTTC’s analysis. WTTC’s 2020 Economic Impact Report also makes clear COVID-19’s far-reaching impact on the Travel and Tourism industry and global economics.
The report reveals that, in 2019, the Travel and Tourism sector provided 16.8 million American jobs (10.7 percent of the nation’s total workforce) and generated $1.8 trillion, which is equivalent to nine percent of the U.S. economy. WTTC’s modeling mapped out a ‘worst case’ scenario in which almost 12.1 million U.S. jobs may be lost due to the economic fallout of the pandemic.
“The economic pain and suffering caused to millions of households across the U.S., who are dependent upon Travel and Tourism for their livelihoods, is evident from our latest shocking figures," said Gloria Guevara, WTTC’s President and CEO.
“The lack of international visitors to the U.S. due to the pandemic could wipe out more than $155 billion from the U.S. economy alone—a loss of $425 million a day—from which it may take years to recover. It could also threaten New York’s position as one of the world’s premier hubs for business and leisure travel,” she explained.
Representing Travel and Tourism’s private-sector players, the WTTC and its Members recently petitioned President Donald Trump and the other leaders of the G7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom), asking that they work together to formulate a coordinated recovery response for the sector.
“International coordination to re-establish transatlantic travel would provide a boost for the Travel and Tourism sector. It would benefit airlines and hotels, travel agents and tour operators, and revitalize the millions of jobs in the supply chain which are dependent upon international travel across the Atlantic," Guevara said.
She continued: “We urgently need to replace blanket quarantine measures with rapid, comprehensive and cost-effective test and trace programs at departure points across the country. This investment will be significantly less than the impact of blunt quarantines which have devastating and far-reaching socio-economic consequences.
“The recent $750 million deal with Abbott labs for $5 rapid test is very promising in this respect, and we hope that it allows the U.S. to continue to reopen and can prove as a blueprint for a way forward for other countries. Targeted test and tracing will help rebuild consumer confidence to travel."
According to WTTC research, in 2019, the Travel and Tourism industry supplied one in ten jobs (330 million in total), generated one in four of the world’s new jobs and contributed 10.3 percent to the global GDP.
For more information, visit wttc.org.
In mid-August, TAP Air Portugal announced plans to return to Chicago, San Francisco and New York JFK by October, meaning the carrier would be serving all seven of its pre-pandemic U.S. gateways.
"There is a lot of uncertainty out there. We don't know anything about an eventual second wave," Carlos Paneiro, TAP's vice president of sales for the Americas region, explained a few days later. "But our plan is to keep growing in the USA as long as demand allows us to do it."
Restrictions imposed by other countries continue to steeply curtail the ability of Americans to travel abroad, while U.S.-imposed restrictions block most incoming traffic from the EU, China and Brazil as well as incoming leisure traffic from Canada and Mexico.
Nevertheless, in August TAP was one of more than 70 airlines, including more than 60 foreign-based carriers, that offered at least some level of international service from the U.S, according to the flight data provider OAG.
Overall, airlines were slated to offer 3.2 million seats in August on international flights from the U.S. That's down more than 77% from last year. But with international travel off-limits in so many cases, and with relatively few people interested in traveling abroad these days in any case, it's reasonable to wonder how, or if, airlines are filling the seats.
"There are essential working communities and groups that are allowed to travel," said OAG analyst John Grant. "Government workers. People in the healthcare sector. Diplomats. And a lot of it is taking as much cargo as you possibly can."
Other major sources of business these days are dual nationals and U.S. resident cardholders headed home to visit family and friends, say airline executives.
"Mainly it's migrant and family traffic that we have been taking," said Paneiro.
At Etihad, which is now serving three of its four pre-pandemic U.S. destinations, some traffic continues to come from re-patriations, vice president for the Americas Vincent Frascogna said.
Meanwhile, Eric Odone, senior vice president of Qatar Airways' western region, said that the carrier is even seeing a modest uptick in business traffic.
Business traffic was very much in mind for Qatar when it decided to resume service to Houston beginning Sept. 2 with three weekly flights, Odone said. He added, though, that the friends-and-relatives market remains Qatar's main source of traffic. The nation of Qatar is closed to tourists, but flyers are connecting through Doha to other parts of the Middle East as well as to East Africa and, increasingly, to Eastern Europe.
As of Sept. 2, Qatar will be flying to eight of the 10 U.S. gateways it served prior to the start of the pandemic.
Overall, many of the large global carriers continue to be the foreign airlines that are doing the most flying to and from the U.S. British Airways, Lufthansa, KLM, Aeromexico, Turkish, Qatar, Air France and Air Canada are all in the top 10 in terms of seats offered this month, according to OAG.
Leading the way, though, is discount Mexican carrier Volaris, which has always focused on the family-and-friends travel market. Volaris' scheduled U.S. seat offering this month was down 33.5% year over year as of Aug. 12.
By comparison, KLM's scheduled U.S. flying was down 43%, Qatar's was down 47%, Aeromexico's was down 68%, Lufthansa's was down 81%, British Airways' was down 82% and Air Canada's was down 94%.
The drastic cutback by Air Canada isn't unusual. Indeed, more than 30 foreign carriers that flew to the U.S. last August aren't flying here this year. And others have made similarly large cuts.
One of those is Singapore Airlines, which currently flies just three times weekly from the U.S. on one route, Los Angeles-Singapore. Prior to the pandemic, Singapore flew eight U.S. routes, most of them daily. But Singapore remains closed to tourists and requires even citizens to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival. Further, the city-state continues to prohibit its national airline from booking U.S. customers for connecting itineraries beyond Singapore.
"Obviously, our priority is to reinstate as much of our network as is possible. That is going to depend on the actions of the Singapore government, as far as opening borders," spokesman James Boyd said.
Still, even with border restrictions dotting the map, carriers like Qatar and TAP continue to optimistically rebuild their international networks. After the Sept. 2 Houston reintroduction, Qatar plans to resume Doha-Philadelphia service on Sept. 15, leaving it with 56 weekly U.S. frequencies, down from 77 pre-pandemic, though some flights are on smaller aircraft.
Qatar's approach, which has included more flying in general than other global carriers throughout the pandemic, has OAG's Grant scratching his head.
"I have been at a loss to see how this has been an effective strategy for them," he said.
But Qatar's Odone asserts that between passenger and cargo traffic, the U.S. flights are moneymakers.
"The flights are reviewed twice a week in terms of whether they are cash positive or cash negative," he said. "From the Americas, we've never had a problem."
TAP, meanwhile, had planned a combined 82 weekly August frequencies to the U.S. and Canada prior to the pandemic. With the addition of New York, San Francisco and Chicago in October, the carrier could bring its actual frequencies as high as 45, Paneiro said. That number includes a new, thrice-weekly Boston-Azores route TAP launched in July to cater to the friends-and-relatives market.
Load factors on the carrier's North American routes right now are in the 50%-to-60% range.
"As long as you cover the variable costs, it is worth putting the aircraft up in the air," Paneiro said. "A load factor of 50% to 60% is not as profitable as it was before, but it's worth putting up with those loads, as opposed to putting planes on the ground."