The new variant could endanger the industry’s short-lived revival, according to airlines.
The worst appeared to be over just a few weeks before.
The United States lifted its 19-month travel ban against Europe. This is expected to help the industry, which has suffered an estimated $6 trillion in losses since the pandemic. British Airways CEO Sean Doyle described this as a “time for celebration.”
However, this optimism could be premature. Countries are rushing to implement travel restrictions after the Omicron coronavirus variant was discovered in South Africa.
Ursula von der Lein (President of the European Commission) called on EU members to cancel all travel to and from countries where there have been mutation attacks. At the time, it meant restrictions on flights to six southern African countries.
As clusters of Omicron cases begin to appear in the entire group—including Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Germany and the Czech Republic, and the United Kingdom—countries are taking further steps.
Poland announced that it would place a 14-day quarantine on anyone coming from outside of the EU visa-free Schengen zone. Spain also tightens travel regulations, and will require UK citizens to get vaccinated.
The Swiss government has also implemented a 10-day quarantine for non-Swiss residents or nationals from other countries, such as the United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic.
The British government began to reintroduce PCR tests and self-isolation requirements in order to protect all tourists traveling from abroad (except Irish tourists). Further afield, Israel has closed its borders to Japan and Israel.
With ominous premonition, airlines are monitoring the closing of countries one after the other.
Willie Walsh, President of International Air Transport Association, accused the government with responding to the new variant using an “emergency mode”-much more about it is still unknown.