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U.S. Lifting Foreign Visitor Restrictions Paves Way For Return Of Tampa’s European Routes

The White House today announced it will lift travel restrictions on Nov. 8 for fully vaccinated foreign travelers entering the U.S., paving the way for TPA’s European carriers to recommence service to the Tampa Bay region.

The new rules will require all foreign nationals arriving in the country to show proof of being fully vaccinated before entering at land or air borders.

Restrictions barring non-essential travel from more than 30 countries into the U.S. have been in place for much of the past year and a half, keeping most of TPA’s international service halted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Like other airports around the country, TPA has been in a holding pattern with many of our international airline partners for much of this year as we’ve eagerly awaited U.S. guidance on the safe reopening of borders,” TPA CEO Joe Lopano said. “Restoring nonstop connections with Europe is critical to our Tampa Bay area economy, businesses and tourism industry, as well as reconnecting families. It will be a very welcome sight to see more international carriers pulling up to our gates once again.”

Under the guidance released by White House, international travelers will need to show proof of their vaccination status to board an airplane to the U.S. and will need to have received a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours before departure.

Any unvaccinated Americans returning to the U.S. will be subject to stricter testing requirements. Unvaccinated Americans must show a negative test result taken within one day before departure and proof of having purchased a COVID-19 test kit for use post-arrival. 

Some of TPA’s international service – such as Copa’s flights to Panama City, Southwest’s flights to Havana, and JetBlue’s flights to Cancun – have been operating for months due to higher shares of U.S. nationals onboard. Foreign nationals have faced more strict hurdles by the U.S. government, but under the new guidance, airlines can now plan more solid dates for restoring connections to Tampa Bay.

Lufthansa’s Eurowings Discover service between TPA and Frankfurt will launch Dec. 16, which the carrier announced earlier this month. British Airways is tentatively scheduled to restore its Tampa-London service on Nov. 1, though that date could be delayed slightly as the airline revises its plan following the White House guidance. Edelweiss Air plans to restart its Tampa-Zurich service to March 2022.

Air Canada, which currently serves Toronto from TPA, is also expecting to resume service between Tampa and Montreal, Ottawa and Halifax over the next two months. WestJet will recommence Toronto service on November 11th.

Tampa International Airport served 15,715 international passengers this August, down 84.6% compared to 2019. TPA’s Air Service Development team continues to be in close contact with various European and other foreign carriers as it looks to growing its international service connections. The team recently returned from the World Routes conference in Milan, where TPA representatives held multiple discussions with air carriers and airport partners about future service opportunities.

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