MIAMI – the Government of Austria expanded its Flight Ban that was in place since the beginning of the virus. Now, 10 new countries were added to the list of destinations from where flights cannot land in Austria.
The law comes to effect tomorrow, forcing airlines to act quickly, and some did.
The Flight Ban
Previously, there was a ban on 8 countries (Belarus, China, Iran, Portugal, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine and the United Kingdom) and the Lombardy region of Italy. The latter was removed, but 10 others were added. These are:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- North Macedonia (previously FYROM)
Overall Effects of the Ban Extension
This law modification came very sudden, surprising airlines and passengers. It basically axes all flights from the Balkan region.
I have to point out that Austrian Airlines’ (OS) main function is to offer connections from these countries. Wizz Air (W6) also has an excessive Balkan network from Vienna.
Airlines and passengers expected this law to be lifted today. There was no warning nor sign that a stricter modification would come that cuts Eastern Europe off.
I myself was affected as I had flights from Portugal to Vienna with Ryanair (FR) and W6, due to travel on Friday or Saturday. The first cancelation email came from FR and I am still waiting for W6.
A Strange Measure
One can argue whether flight bans are effective. I think that entry regulations are much better for everyone because:
- Passengers can still travel via a third country and bring the virus in.
- This cuts off transit traffic that would not bring the virus into Austria.
Considering the latter, the flight ban is especially a strange solution as OS relies on the Eastern European transfer traffic and the airport not only serves the capital of Austria, but Slovakia, Hungary and Czechia too. These people (myself included) have to make new plans immediately – in my case two days notice.
The new law modification was imposed by Rudolf Anschober, the country’s Health Minister, who is a member of the Green Party.
It is not the first time in the last few days that a member of the Greens imposes a disputable act: my op-ed on the Flight Taxation Act can be found here.
Featured image: Vienna Airport by Miklós Budai