DECEMBER 30, 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 government will require all airline passengers arriving from the United Kingdom to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of departure amid concerns about a new coronavirus variant, reports Reuters. The decision comes after The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated last week that all airline passengers arriving from the UK must test negative in order to fly to the United States. A representative from the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said on Friday that they are “in close contact with the US authorities and are working urgently to minimize disruption as far as possible,” adding that FCDO will regularly update advice online. “British travelers should follow the US authorities’ guidance, and speak to their airlines for the latest travel options in the first instance.” Under the new policy, travelers departing from the UK for the US must provide written documentation of their laboratory test result (in hard copy or electronic) to the airline, the CDC said. Airlines must confirm negative test results for all travelers before they board. If travelers choose not to take a test, the airline must deny boarding.

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) officials recently unveiled Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) terminal features as part of its commitment to transform three major airports, reports Transportation Today. The new design delivers four distinct areas for taxis, app-based ride-share vehicles, buses and private passenger vehicles to reduce traffic congestion, ease passenger loading and improve the customer experience. Additionally, officials indicated the new terminal design includes technology and safety features in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “The Port Authority’s airport redevelopment projects are designed to meet the needs of the 21st-century traveler,” Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton said. “We are constantly looking at ways to improve our new facilities and ensure their look, feel, and functionality are best-in-class. The arrivals frontage design changes introduced at Newark Liberty’s new terminal will make dramatic improvements to the functioning of the arrivals level, easing passenger movements from the terminal into whichever mode of ground transportation travelers choose.“ The new terminal is slated to open in late 2022.

Boeing’s 737 MAX resumed passenger flights in the United States for the first time on Tuesday after a 20-month safety ban was lifted last month, reports Skift. American Airlines Flight 718 departed Miami around 10:40 am, bound for New York’s LaGuardia and landed safely at 1:10 pm. American’s first flight between Miami and LaGuardia follows flight control updates, maintenance work, fresh pilot training and town hall meetings with flight crews to walk them through Boeing’s changes and address concerns. American is the third carrier globally to resume flights following Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes and Grupo Aeromexico earlier this month. Between those two airlines, the updated 737 MAX has flown about 250 commercial flights, according to Cirium, the aviation data firm. American Airlines currently has 31 737 MAX aircraft after taking delivery of seven more jets since the FAA lifted its safety ban, including one on Monday and plans to gradually reintroduce the plane to its fleet.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it was finalizing the first-ever proposed standards regulating greenhouse gas emissions from airplanes, reports CNBC. The EPA said its new requirements for airplanes used in commercial aviation and for large business jets would align the US with international standards. In 2016, the UN International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) agreed on global airplane emissions standards aimed at makers of small and large planes, including Airbus SE and Boeing, which both have backed the standards. The final rule “is vital for protecting the environment and supporting the sustainable growth of commercial aviation and the United States economy,” Boeing said in a statement. The EPA said it anticipates nearly all affected airplanes to be compliant by the effective dates. The EPA said it expects “airplanes that are non-compliant will either be modified and re-certificated as compliant, will likely go out of production before the production compliance date of January 1, 2028, or will seek exemptions.”

The Dominican Republic is extending the country’s complimentary health coverage plan for tourists arriving aboard commercial flights and staying in approved hotels and resorts, which had been set to expire on January 1, 2021, to April 30, 2021, reports Travel Pulse. The visitor health plan becomes effective at hotel check-in and covers “all medical emergencies” including infection or exposure to COVID-19 while in the country. The plan also covers “ambulatory visits, hospitalizations, medicines, prolonged visits due to medical emergencies, specialist[s], visits at health centers throughout the country, transportation in case of emergency, hospital expenses and penalty costs for flight changes,” said officials. “The free traveler assistance plan has proven to be a success, as it has helped position us as a safe destination where tourists can enjoy different kinds of experiences with the peace of mind that there is a health system prepared to care for them in case of any contingency, at no cost to them,” said David Collado, minister of tourism.

Alaska Airlines will soon ban emotional support animals from flights, becoming the first major US airline to do so after the Department of Transportation (DOT) revised its regulations earlier this month about what constitutes a service animal, reports USA Today. Beginning January 11, 2021, Alaska will only allow service dogs, which it defined in a press release as dogs that are "specially trained to perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability," including psychiatric service dogs, the airline said in a news release. Travelers with emotional support animals with reservations booked prior to January 11th will still be allowed to fly, but no exceptions will be made after February 28, 2021. Alaska's new policy allows up to two service dogs per guest, and those guests will be required to fill out a DOT form – available on the airline's website beginning January 11th – to confirm that the service dog is "trained and vaccinated and will behave appropriately during the journey."