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Will travellers vaccinated with AstraZeneca in Europe be able to enter the US?

While Washington has not authorized the AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19, a European commissioner on Monday expressed hope that travellers from the continent inoculated with the jab will soon be able to enter the United States.

Will travellers vaccinated with AstraZeneca in Europe be able to enter the US?
Photo: Christof Stache/AFP

The US government on Monday announced that starting November 1, it will lift the pandemic travel ban on all air passengers who are fully vaccinated and undergo testing and contact tracing.

The unprecedented travel restrictions had raised tensions between the United States and its European allies and had kept relatives, friends and business travelers around the world separated for many months as the pandemic grinds on.

In an interview in Washington with AFP, Thierry Breton, European commissioner for internal market, said the new order covers people vaccinated with jabs recognized by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The agency has not approved the AstraZeneca shot used by many European nations, however, Breton said he spoke with White House pandemic response coordinator Jeff Zients who “sounded positive and optimistic.”

However, Zients told him that “for the other vaccines, for AstraZeneca in particular, their health agency would decide.”

Whether a decision would come by the November 1 when travel resumes, Zients “seemed positive on the dates, too,” said Breton, who coordinates the EU’s supply of Covid-19 vaccines.

Breton said the restrictions “no longer made any sense.”

Depite Europe’s relatively high vaccination rates “we are on the same restrictions as China, Iran, and other countries. It makes no sense at all,” he said.

The United States first imposed the restrictions as the pandemic began in March 2020 on travelers from the European Union, United Kingdom and China, later extending it to India and Brazil.

However, the availability of Covid-19 vaccines has made continuing the travel ban a point of transatlantic tension.

That worsened in recent days after Australia’s sudden announcement that it will acquire US-built nuclear submarines as part of a new defense alliance, ditching a contract with France for conventionally powered submarines.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Cabin crew at Spain’s Iberia Express set to strike for ten days

Madrid-based Iberia Express cabin crew have called for ten days of strike action in August and September over pay increases, adding to already disrupted summer travel in Spain and Europe.

Cabin crew at Spain's Iberia Express set to strike for ten days

In what has become a summer of strike action, industrial disputes are affecting travel of all forms across Europe.

In Spain, however, the walkouts have been very largely concentrated in the aviation sector with pilot and cabin crew strikes at both Ryanair and EasyJet causing delays and cancellations throughout the summer.

To further add to the already chaotic summer of travel, cabin crew at the low-coast branch of Iberia – Iberia Express – have now joined their industry colleagues and called for strike action.

READ MORE: Ryanair cabin crew in Spain begin latest round of strike action

Backed by the USO and SITCPLA unions, over 500 Madrid-based Iberia Express cabin crew staff are set to walk out for ten days of strike action that will begin on August 28th and is scheduled to last until at least September 6th, in order to “unblock the negotiation of the airline’s collective agreement,” according to unions.

As with other airlines, union bosses are demanding a salary review to get pay in line with Spain’s historic inflation and because Iberia Express staff have had their wages frozen for the last seven years.

Like the Ryanair and EasyJet disputes, unions are fighting for pay increases amid an inflation-triggered cost of living crisis combined with worsening working conditions, hours and contracts prompted by the surge in travel after the end of COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions. Many airlines cut staff numbers to try and stay afloat during the pandemic and are now struggling to cope with demand.

READ MORE: Rate of inflation in Spain reaches highest level in 37 years

Unions are also calling for the consolidation of a 6.5 percent salary increase corresponding to 2021 for all staff, the creation of a seniority bonus, and two salary levels with a 11 percent and 4 percent percent increases respectively.

“We are very disappointed with Iberia Express’s management, which showed it doesn’t keep its word and doesn’t respect workers who have struggled to keep the company afloat,” unions said in a statement.

READ MORE: Airport chaos in Europe: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

Iberia Express representatives described the proposed strike action as “incomprehensible” and reinforced that negotiations are ongoing.

“We’re confident the strike can be avoided and that we can keep talking to guarantee stability and offer a good service to our customers,” Iberia Express management said in response. 

Iberia Express connects Madrid with 40 cities across Europe. Unless an agreement is made between employers and unions, flights could be affected on August 28th, 29th, 30th, and 31st, and September 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th.

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