On Saturday, the Saudi Ministry of Health announced 414 new infections of COVID, with the weekly figures seeing a five-fold increase compared to those seen through March and April. Around 81 cases were critical, with covid-related death reported. Saudi citizens are only permitted to travel if they have received all three vaccinations.  The inclusion of fifteen countries on the list seems a confusing decision, with only DRC having reported an increase in COVID cases.Saudi’s General Directorate of Passports has also noted that citizens intending to travel outside the kingdom must have received three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, with children between 12 and 16 only requiring two. Exemptions remain in place for those that have received a vaccine waiver based on medical grounds. No announcement has been made regarding how long the measures will be enforced, and it appears no new restrictions have been implemented for incoming passengers.

Concerns have been raised in the country regarding reports of monkeypox worldwide; though it has not played a part in the recent flight bans. The health ministry has addressed the virus, assuring that infections have not been detected within the country.

According to World Health Organization data, around 101 cases of monkeypox have been confirmed across 19 countries. Some international closures remain in place, notably that of Hong Kong International Airport, which has seen a drastic decline in passenger figures.

Despite worldwide COVID cases seeing a decline and many nations reopening up for travel, strict border measures remain in place for several countries, including China, Japan, and Taiwan. In its fight to achieve its “Zero COVID” goal, China has notably kept its doors shut to almost all international travellers, causing severe disruption across the Eastern aviation industry.

Once one of the busiest cargo and passenger hubs worldwide, the tightening of China’s air border saw Hong Kong International Airport’s yearly passenger figures drop to less than 6 million in 2021, lower than 2019’s monthly averages. For Hong Kong, incoming passengers from certain countries able to enter, providing they are vaccinated, take a test on arrival, and are willing to quarantine for seven days regardless of a negative result.

Airlines are already looking to alternative hub airports to bypass restrictions, with Singapore Changi Airport and Incheon International Airport floated as potential replacements for Hong Kong. Speaking during a press briefing in April, Director-General of the IATA, Willie Walsh, explained that Hong Kong was “completely off the map,” noting that it would be difficult for the airport to recover.

Regardless of the upcoming FIFA World Cup, Qatar still restricts international passenger arrivals at Doha Hamad International Airport subject to 3 dose vaccination (only certain vaccines, digitally proven and within a certain validity – not the validity given by the country of origin) and in some cases PCR Covid-19 tests too. The E.U. digital passes are not recognised / accepted by Qatar unless they are validated through the national App. By contrast, Dubai accept all vaccines and certificates, including the EU digital health pass.

Turkey and Hong Kong will be suffering the biggest losses, with more countries likely to add the two destinations on their ban lists. This adds to the war in Ukraine which may lead to further restrictions and bans, not to mention staff shortages which are causing flight cancellations and disruptions daily, including at major airports such as Heathrow or Schiphol.

The U.S. and several E.U. countries have placed orders for the vaccine used against the monkeypox.

 

Airport terminal

Airport terminal