It’s all looking good on the reopening front, as more and more countries announce that they’re easing travel restrictions. Mongolia and Papua New Guinea are finally open to vaccinated travelers. Canada will relax Covid testing rules from February 28. Austria will lift most restrictions by March 5. Vietnam is eyeing a full reopening from March 15. (You can listen to Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” podcast from Vietnam here).
Most countries have different rules for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers, but not Norway, which has lifted all restrictions for all travelers, and Lithuania, which has free entry for visitors from the EU, the US, and select other destinations. While more than half the world’s travel destinations are still classed “very high” for Covid-19 risk by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the agency has at least lowered its risk advisory for cruises from “very high” to “high”. Meanwhile, at US Disney Resorts, the mask requirement has been lifted for vaccinated guests.
Meanwhile, a British judge has ordered French planemaker Airbus to delay the cancellation of a multi-billion-dollar order for 50 A321neo aircraft with Doha-based Qatar Airways. Airbus has revoked the $6 billion order in an ongoing and bitter dispute with Qatar Airways over paint quality defects that have affected some of the airframer’s larger A350 jets.
During an early technical hearing at London’s High Court on Friday, a judge told Airbus that it must delay any practical steps that would prevent Qatar Airways from receiving the new planes as originally planned.
The delay has been requested through April when the full court hearing is slated to take place. During the full trial, the High Court will determine whether Airbus was within its rights to cancel the order by invoking a cross-default clause in Qatar Airways’ contract for A350 planes.
Qatar Airways first sued Airbus for at least $600 million claiming that paint damage to at least 21 of its A350 planes was an airworthiness issue that had forced the airline to ground the planes until the ‘root cause’ has been established.
Airbus denies any suggestion the damage is a reason to ground the planes and claims to have worked with other A350 operators who have all come to the same conclusion. The manufacturer then canceled a separate order for 50 A321neo’s when Qatar Airways refused to take delivery of two A350 planes which have been built for the airline.