Lifting US restrictions on foreign visitors paves way for the return of TPA’s European routes
The new rules will require all foreign nationals arriving in the country to prove that they are fully vaccinated before entering land or air borders. Restrictions banning non-essential travel from more than 30 countries to the United States have been in place for much of the past year and a half, now most international TPA services halted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic .
“Like other airports across the country, TPA has been on hold with many of our international airline partners for much of this year as we eagerly awaited US guidance on the safe reopening of borders,” said TPA CEO Joe Lopano. “Restoring non-stop links to Europe is critical to our economy, businesses and tourism industry in the Tampa Bay area, as well as reconnecting families.
According to guidelines issued by the White House, international travelers will be required to show proof of their immunization status to board a plane to the United States and must have received a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of departure. .
Any unvaccinated American returning to the United States will be subject to more stringent testing requirements. Unvaccinated Americans must show a negative test result within one day of departure and proof of purchasing a COVID-19 test kit to use after arrival.
Some of TPA’s international services – such as Copa flights to Panama City, Southwest flights to Havana, and JetBlue flights to Cancun – have been running for months due to a higher share of US nationals on board. Foreign nationals have faced stricter hurdles from the U.S. government, but under the new guidelines, airlines can now plan more solid dates to reestablish connections to Tampa Bay.
Lufthansa‘s Eurowings Discover service between TPA and Frankfurt will launch on December 16, something the carrier announced earlier this month. British Airways is expected to tentatively restore Tampa-London service on November 1, although that date may be slightly delayed as the airline revises its plan in accordance with White House guidelines. Edelweiss Air plans to restart its Tampa-Zurich service in March.
Air Canada, which currently serves Toronto from TPA, also plans to resume service between Tampa and Montreal, Ottawa and Halifax over the next two months. WestJet will resume service in Toronto on November 11.
Tampa International Airport handled 15,715 international passengers in August, down 84.6% from 2019. TPA’s Air Services Development team continues to be in close contact with various European and foreign carriers while it seeks to develop its international connections. The team recently returned from the World Routes conference in Milan, where TPA representatives had multiple discussions with airlines and airport partners on future service opportunities.