OCTOBER 21, 2020

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

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced its new guidance about mask wearing on public transportation in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Per the new guidelines: "CDC strongly recommends appropriate masks be worn by all passengers and by all personnel operating the conveyance while on public transportation conveyances (e.g., airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, ride-shares) and at transportation hubs and other locations where people board such conveyances (e.g. airports, bus or ferry terminals, train stations, seaports)." The CDC's guidelines also include the following:
  • People should wear masks that cover both the mouth and nose when waiting for, traveling on, or departing from public transportation such as the airport, bus or ferry terminal, train or subway station, seaport or similar area that provides transportation.
  • People should wear masks when traveling into, within, or out of the United States on public conveyances.
  • Conveyance operators transporting people should refuse to board anyone not wearing a mask and require all people onboard, whether passengers or employees, to wear masks for the duration of travel except in the following circumstances:
  • For brief periods while eating, drinking or taking medication
  • If unconscious, incapacitated, unable to be awakened or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance
  • When necessary to temporarily remove the mask to verify one’s identity such as during Transportation Security Administration screening or when asked to do so by the ticket or gate agent or any law enforcement official
  • For children under the age of 2 years old

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced that it screened over 1 million travelers on Sunday, October 18th, representing the highest number of travelers screened at TSA checkpoints since March 17, 2020. In addition to screening 1 million travelers in a single day, TSA screened 6.1 million travelers at checkpoints nationwide during the week (Monday, October 12th through Sunday, October 18th). That weekly volume also represents the highest weekly volume for TSA since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. “TSA has been diligent in our efforts to ensure checkpoints are clean, safe and healthy for frontline workers and airline passengers, implementing new protocols and deploying state-of-the-art technologies that improve security and reduce physical contact,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. According to the TSA, the 1 million single-day traveler volume is a noteworthy development that follows significant TSA checkpoint modifications in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. TSA has been deploying acrylic barriers and technologies that reduce or eliminate physical contact between travelers and TSA officers.

New research from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) reports that a majority of its companies expect their employees to return to in-person events, meetings or conferences in 2021, reports Travel Pulse. According to the GBTA report, nearly half (45 percent) said that they believe these events would start up in the first half of the year. Another twenty-five percent expect a return to in-person events in the second half of 2021. Companies also say they are preparing to host in-person events in the coming year. Thirty-seven percent are expecting to host some or many meetings or events in the first quarter. That number rises to 61 percent in the second quarter of 2021. One of the most motivating factors for returning to the office or to in-person events is a vaccine for COVID-19. Half (52 percent) said that an effective vaccine for COVID-19 would have the most influence on their planning process. Additionally, managed travel is now a necessity for many companies. The GBTA research showed that half (48 percent) of GBTA companies say their senior managers value a managed travel program “much more” or “more” than they did before COVID-19.

United Airlines has announced an expansion of its winter international schedule, introducing 8 new routes and adding flights to 19 destinations in the Caribbean, Latin America and Mexico. Starting in December, United will begin new nonstop service between Los Angeles and San Jose, Costa Rica and San Pedro Sula, Honduras; between Denver and Belize City, Belize and San Jose, Costa Rica; between Washington DC and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and returning service between Cleveland and Cancun, Mexico. In January, United will begin new nonstop service between Liberia, Costa Rica and both Los Angeles and San Francisco. The new flights are subject to government approval. "These eight new routes highlight the continued expansion of our network and build upon our strong presence in Latin America," said Patrick Quayle, United's vice president of International Network and Alliances. "Our new and increased service offers travelers more opportunities to find warm-weather getaways and visit friends and family over the winter season."

London's Heathrow Airport has introduced a one-hour rapid COVID-19 test for travelers flying to Italy and Hong Kong as part of its plans to open up international travel, reports Airport Technology. The quick tests are being introduced to allow travelers to enter countries where a negative test result of COVID-19 is required in order to skip quarantine. Airport services firms Collinson and Swissport have opened up rapid testing facilities at the airport. The facilities will open for four weeks initially and may later be extended for a further period based on traveler demand.

Airports Council International (ACI) World and International Air Transport Association (IATA) officials are reaffirming advocacy in which governments use COVID-19 testing to safely re-open borders and re-establish global connectivity, reports Transportation Today. The organizations are also calling for non-debt generating financial support. ACI and the IATA maintain the potential actions would protect countries from importing COVID-19 cases, avert an employment crisis in the travel and tourism sector and ensure critical aviation structure remains viable while supporting global economic and social benefits.

Singapore Airlines will resume service to the New York metropolitan area on November 9th and is relocating its nonstop Singapore route to JFK Airport from Newark, reports Travel Weekly.
Prior to the pandemic, Singapore Airlines flew to Newark nonstop from its hub at Singapore's Changi Airport while also flying a one-stop route to JFK with a stopover in Frankfurt. The carrier has not yet announced plans to resume that stopover route. Moving the nonstop service to JFK will enable Singapore Airlines to better accommodate a mix of traveler and cargo traffic than Newark service would, the carrier said. Singapore remains closed to visitors, with only citizens and permanent residents allowed. But the island state recently began allowing US flyers to transit through Changi en route to other countries. Singapore Airlines is currently operating a Los Angeles service as well. The carrier had eight US routes before the pandemic.