The most exciting news of the week came from Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has announced that it will be reopening for Umrah. The reopening will be done in phases with the first phase only being for residents and citizens of the Kingdom. While international travelers will be allowed in from November onwards. The decision to reopen came after Saudi Arabia held the smallest Hajj ever recorded in modern history with only 10,000 pilgrims. Furthermore, in order to assure a safer environment amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a companion app will be launched along with the reopening. The app will be used to regulate the flow and visitor numbers of the holy and historic sites that pilgrims will visit during their Umrah.
The first phase will commence on 4 October this year. Only Citizens and Residents are allowed to perform Umrah in the first phase. The second phase will commence on 18 October, where the number of pilgrims allowed will be increased to 15,000 pilgrims from inside the country. While the third phase will commence on 1 November this year, this phase will allow for 20,000 pilgrims and will be open to international travelers as well.
Read more on the reopening in our blog “Saudi Arabia Planning to Reopen for Umrah”.
Image Credit: Airbus
Earlier this week, Airbus has revealed 3 new concepts of airplanes that they plan to add to the fleet by 2035. What makes these concepts interesting is that they will be the world's first zero-emissions commercial aircraft. Thanks to the development of Hydrogen as an alternative fuel, Airbus is aiming to introduce this technology into the aerospace industry.
The designs include a turboprop fan which is a propellor powered plane and the "blended-wing body" reminiscent of the flying-wing aircraft designs. In order to support Hydrogen technology in commercial flights, airports will be required to implement adequate support such as hydrogen transport and refueling infrastructure.
This is a major step in the future of the travel and aerospace industry as it is a viable solution to the problem that has plagued the industries, Carbon Emissions in travel. Before the release of the concepts, the method chosen by the airlines is usually carbon offset programs. This method involves airlines to initiate activities which cancel off the carbon produced in flights. Such activities include planting/replanting trees.
Another development in the travel landscape is the news that a new business travel pass is being piloted for senior executives who travel regularly for official and business purposes. The pilot program is currently in effect in Singapore. Travelers in this program will be required to follow a strictly controlled itinerary when they are abroad. When returning, travelers will be given a choice of taking a COVID-19 test in lieu of serving a stay-home notice or to self-isolate until the results are out.
Currently, the number of passes is strictly limited in this starting phase for the ministry to monitor the outcome of the pilot program. The program will not be country-specific and will allow travelers to visit a range of countries.
However, travel restrictions and measures of the country of visit still apply. Please refer to the authorities for more information on this program.
According to multiple news reports, Deutsche Lufthansa AG plans on making rapid COVID-19 antigen tests available for their passengers starting in October. This is in line with the global requirement of travel in this pandemic where travelers will have to show proof of negative COVID-19 test results when traveling.
Due to its limited supply, the new tests will initially be available to its first-class and business class passengers.