Omicron variant impact on business aviation
On Nov. 28, 2021, the World Health Organization designated the COVID variant B.1.1.529, named Omicron, a variant of concern.
In response, many countries around the globe, including the United States, Canada and much of Europe, have implemented new travel restrictions, bans, and border closures.
Here’s what you need to know.
Most missions are still feasible – enhanced testing may be required in some countries
So far, the vast majority of international bizav missions are still feasible unless passengers have been in one of the following African hotspot countries within the preceding 14 days. However, you should anticipate enhanced testing requirements prior to entry.
So far, we have not seen anything that would derail missions to popular peak season destinations like the Caribbean, Mexico, Costa Rica, and most European destinations for a majority of travelers.
More stringent testing requirements around the world
In response to the Omicron variant, many countries including the U.S., UK, France and Portugal have implemented more stringent testing requirements for all travelers.
U.S. enhanced testing
Effective 12:01am EST (5:01am GMT) on December 6, 2021, the United States requires all air passengers 2 years or older with a flight departing to the US from a foreign country at or after, to show a negative COVID-19 viral test result taken no more than 1 day before travel, or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days, before they board their flight.
This flowchart outlines the new requirements.
U.S. citizen requirements
- Must present a viral negative test 1 day before traveling to the U.S. by air, or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days, before they board their flight. The 1-day period is 1 day before the flight’s departure. The Order uses a 1-day time frame instead of 24 hours to provide more flexibility to the air passenger and aircraft operator. By using a 1-day window, test acceptability does not depend on the time of the flight or the time of day that the test sample was taken. For example, if your flight is at 1pm on a Friday, you could board with a negative test that was taken any time on the prior Thursday
- You must complete and sign an attestation.
Non-U.S. citizen requirements
- Must not have been Have you been in any of the countries listed in the Presidential Proclamation restricting entry into the US during the 14-day period before their flight to the U.S.
- Must be fully vaccinated with an approved COVID vaccine.
- Must present a viral negative test 1 day before traveling to the U.S. by air, or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past 90 days, before they board their flight.
- You must complete and sign an attestation.
UK More Stringent COVID Testing
The UK requires all passengers entering the country to take a pre-departure PCR test or lateral flow test no more than 48 hours prior to arrival. In addition, all passengers must take a PCR test (not lateral flow) on or before day 2 of arrival into the UK and self-isolate until the results are known. Our Universal Aviation FBOs at London-Stansted and London-Northolt can arrange for your PCR testing to be done on arrival, with results back to you in just 6 hours…so very minimal self-isolation time.
Blocking Passengers from Hotspot Countries
Many countries, including the U.S. and much of Europe, are now banning passengers who have been in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi in the last 14 days. This is the most common playbook countries are following.
Blocking Passengers from Countries Where Variant Detected
A small number of Asia-Pacific countries have begun restricting passengers coming from any country where the Omicron variant was detected, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, UK, etc.
Complete Border Closures
Only a few countries like Israel, Japan, and Morocco have completely closed their borders to foreign passengers.
Omicron Best Practice Advice
- Consult with us prior to any planned mission. We’re staying on top of the latest and can provided a detailed feasibility analysis of your mission scenario.
- Advise passengers to continuing maintaining a detailed 14-day travel history.
- With COVID cases rising, along with new Omicron testing mandates, hospitals and testing centers will once again be strained. You can bypass all this by certifying your N-reg aircraft for On-Aircraft COVID Testing. It’s going to make your international missions easier, improve your operating flexibility, reduce your risks, and provide an overall more comfortable experience for your passengers.