Airlines in tailspin over new Covid restrictions

 In Aviation, Covid-19, News

Various international airlines have reacted in dismay at the Portuguese government’s plans to close arrival halls at Lisbon, Faro and Porto airports due to a raft of new restrictions against the latest variant Omicron.

On Tuesday this week, Rui Alves, director of Lisbon’s Humberto Delgado terminal, explained that people should only travel to the airport in case of absolute necessity, as the arrivals hall will be closed due to new rules of inspection, and admitted that people arriving at the airport will not have the best conditions in which to wait.
RENA – the association of airline companies in Portugal – criticised the measures proposed by the government to control the latest phase of the pandemic.
The association’s executive director António Moura Portugals said that the organisation is “particularly perplexed” by the reference in the prime minister’s announcement last week to airline companies having been “irresponsible” in transporting passengers without the requisite negative tests or Covid digital passes.
According to Diário de Notícias and reported by the Algarve Resident newspaper this week, the prime minister said: “We note that, unfortunately, airlines have not fulfilled their obligations. This is why we have changed the administrative framework and will apply a fine of €20,000 for each passenger disembarked on Portuguese territory without properly being tested”.
The new framework will also make airlines responsible for the food and board of any passengers that require to be kept in isolation — with the added proviso that they could have their licences to fly in Portugal suspended.
“I want to leave a very clear message to airline companies. We consider it a profound irresponsibility to transport passengers who have not been tested, and disembarking people on national territory who have not been tested”, said Mr. Costa.
As RENA showed its irritation, Brussels appeared to be taking Portugal to task over demanding negative tests in the first place.
This has now changed because cases of Omicron have now been detected in people who have been double vaccinated…so authorities have tightened their controls even further on arrivals into Portugal.
And Mr. Moura Portugal’s prediction that the government’s new measures will “simply further damage one of the sector’s most affected by the pandemic” has already come true.
Over the weekend, flights from Mozambique and a number of other African countries were suspended: leaving many nationals completely high and dry while the South African authorities say that while Omicron may be more contagious, there is no evidence that it is causes particularly aggressive symptoms and people infected tend to not end up in hospital.