Politics of Travel Kicking off 22 the right way, Canadian Testing, EU Expiration and US Chapter Challenge

Happy 2022! Travel and meetings are happening and I have flown enough already to have been delayed and stressed about my connections. But by and large the trips have been good! I even had my first in person speaking engagement of the year. This week I spoke to the GBTA Wisconsin Chapter. It was a great 2 day event and that isn’t even factoring in the bratwursts and cheese curds!

Now, having a taste of brats, I am beyond excited to attend the GBTA Conference 2021 – Berlin in Partnership with VDR and to meet with European business travel colleagues to continue our discussions of government actions and policies and how we will convey the importance of global business travel.

As many of you in the U.S. have asked, I am also happy to announce the return of the U.S. Government Relations Chapter Challenge! The details will be announced at the U.S. Chapter Leadership Summit in on February 8. See you in Tampa!

TUB THUMPER: Released on Thursday, the GBTA COVID POLL finding show a mixed bag but maintains the industry’s resilient attitude of progress and optimism in its long-view expectations for 2022.

Of particular note for our focus here are these findings:

  • 43% of survey respondents cited government policies that restrict travel or make it difficult (such as entry restrictions or mandatory quarantines). Travel managers based in the UK (66%) and Europe (62%) were more likely than those in North America (33%) to cite government policies as being the single greatest barrier to business travel.
  • When asked to name barriers specifically to international business travel, respondents said policy uncertainty (72%), strict requirements on international visitors (69%), policy inconsistencies across different countries (64%), and required documentation and paperwork (45%).

To see international travel, return to its full potential, we must have clear, consistent guidance on entry requirements and to recognize the individual traveler vs. treating all travelers from a region as a single entity. GBTA continues to push this broad message and continues to fine tune specific programs for individual countries. Stay tuned for how you can help!

PASS THE TESTING FROM THE LEFT-HAND SIDE: In response to the Canadian government’s rule that every person travelling to Canada must be fully vaccinated AND take a PCR test prior to getting on a plane inbound to Canada, the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable (CTTR) released a statement, supported by GBTA, urging the federal government to redeploy PCR tests used for on-arrival testing of fully-vaccinated, asymptomatic and previously negative travelers into Canada for community use and for a return to randomized on-arrival testing for surveillance purposes. The reasoning being that is important to prioritize scarce testing resources that could be redeployed to protect our frontline workers and support a return to school for children.

This position was reinforced by Dr. Jim Chung, Chief Medical Officer – Air Canada, Dr. Edward Wasser, Chief Medical Officer – Toronto Pearson and Dr. Tammy McKnight, Chief Medical Officer – WestJet Airlines, in a letter to various government ministers and officials including Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer.

The response from Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos was essentially Go Pound Sand. I would have liked to see a little more details than “not going to happen”. Like, why is it important to test arrivals at Canadian airports, with transmission rates currently around 3% when the community is facing 30%? Wouldn’t the addition of 8,000 daily tests at Pearson be better spent at schools? I don’t know…but Canadians may just have to plan for a while longer. Last thing – what a perfect example of why our poll found government policies as such a burden to international travel.

G FORCE: Thankfully planes didn’t fall out of the sky, but there was concern that they could given the changes in the U.S.  to the 5G Network.

GBTA reacted with the following statement. Recent uncertainty and concerns have arisen around the potential disruptions and impact on air travel related to the rollout of high speed 5G networks in the U.S. Mid-day reports show little impact due to the agreement to minimize the use of 5G around airports.

GBTA is pleased with today’s results, but questions remain. To that end, GBTA urges all stakeholders involved to quickly address and resolve the concerns to ensure optimal safety and the continuation of air travel. With an average of over 45,000 flights filled with 2.9 million people (about the population of Connecticut) a day across the U.S.*, any issues that threaten the safety of all travelers and air travel overall should be paramount.

These concerns over the safety of air travel are currently causing flights to be rerouted and cancelled. GBTA calls on the U.S. Biden Administration to assist in fully resolving this issue immediately.

Earlier this week, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Rep. Peter Defazio (D-OR) on CNN explained how we got here.

As of Thursday, the FAA estimates that about 78 percent of the current commercial fleet can land safely at airports in 5G zones, up from 62 percent less than a day prior. The agency previously said any aircraft with untested altimeters or those that need upgrades or replacement will, for the time being, be unable to perform low-visibility landings where 5G is active.

EUROPE HAS AN AUNT PROBLEM: On 21 December, the European Commission adopted rules relating to the EU Digital COVID Certificate, establishing a binding acceptance period of 9 months (precisely 270 days) of vaccination certificates, following a primary 2-dose vaccination series or 1-dose series for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, for the purposes of intra-EU travel. The 270-day period will be calculated from the day of the second dose. Importantly, the new rule does not limit the validity period of third vaccine doses administered by the EU member states.

These new rules will apply from 1 February 2022. I am flagging this information to let you know to look for additional information from GBTA in the coming days.

RESILENCY! With the last couple of years being so difficult for everyone, I do believe resiliency and getting back on our feet after being knocked down is vital. So I leave you with this clip and close the first POT of 2022 as I started. You Won’t Ever Keep Me Down!

Shane Downey
Vice President, Government & Community Relations
[email protected]
(O) 703 236-1131
(C) 703 459-7425

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