For members


Is the EU likely to reinstate Covid travel restrictions?

A meeting is scheduled for Wednesday in Brussels to discuss the latest Covid situation in China - so could this mark the return of vaccine passports and travel restrictions?

Is the EU likely to reinstate Covid travel restrictions?
COVID-19 preventive measures information document provided to the passengers of a flight from China at the Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle airport in Roissy, outside Paris, on January 1, 2023, as France reinforces health measures at the borders for travellers arriving from China. Photo by JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP

Several EU countries including France, Italy and Spain (as well as non-EU countries including the UK and USA) have already imposed travel restrictions on arrivals from China, over fears of new variants of Covid-19.

The countries announced their restrictions – mostly amounting to compulsory tests and masks – on a unilateral basis at the end of last week, but there have been calls for greater co-ordination at an EU level.

There is now a meeting scheduled for Wednesday of the EU Integrated Policy Response Capability to discuss coordinating measures, with an insider telling Politico: “The idea is to harmonise, but without being extremely prescriptive.”

The meeting has been called by Sweden, which now holds the rotating presidency of the EU. 

So what measures are likely?

At present the countries that have announced restrictions have only imposed testing and mask rules – there is no requirement to show proof of vaccination and no travel bans. All measures only apply only to travellers from China.

A meeting of the European Health Safety Committee last Thursday did not produce any concrete measures, with EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides merely urging member states to coordinate quickly. It was after this that some countries announced their own restrictions.

If anything more concrete comes out of Wednesday’s meeting, it is likely to refer to testing or mask rules only and like the previous EU Covid travel policies, will be advisory for countries to follow.

Because borders are a national competence, countries can impose their own measures without having to consult the EU.

Despite the introduction of the EU digital vaccine passport, countries never managed to entirely co-ordinate their travel rules during 2020 and 2021.

In most EU countries the health pass or vaccine pass apps remain active, and could be used again if necessary. 

Will there be travel bans?

At this stage more draconian restrictions – such as the ‘red lists’ or ‘essential travel only’ rules of 2021 seem unlikely.

Most EU countries have a high level of vaccine cover, so would probably only resort to travel restrictions if new variants – against which current Covid vaccines are not effective – emergence in China (or any other country).  

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For members


Munich, Vienna or Salzburg: Which is the best airport to fly from?

Whether you're planning a shorter or longer haul flight, there are no shortage of options at these three modern and easy-to-use airports. But which is the best option for you?

Munich, Vienna or Salzburg: Which is the best airport to fly from?

Modern facilities, easy to access by public transport and a growing list of destinations: three of the biggest airports in Austria and Bavaria share a lot in common.

But there’s also plenty that sets them apart, from size to the number of daily flights that they offer. 

Here’s what you need to know if you’re deliberating where to depart.


Munich airport

Germany’s second largest airport behind Frankfurt, Munich is not only a popular launching pad for European destinations, but also those all over the world.

During 2022, it counted a total of 31,642,738 passengers, also making it the seventh business airport in all of Europe. That’s still down from its pre-pandemic peak of 48 million passengers in 2019. Its busiest routes are to Berlin, Hamburg, Dusseldorf, London-Heathrow, Frankfurt, Cologne, Amsterdam, Paris CDG, Barcelona and Madrid.

Worldwide it offers flights to nearly 250 destinations, covering nearly every part of the world except Australia and New Zealand. But as there are several daily direct flights to Asia, reaching these destinations is also not a challenge. 

READ ALSO: Why are fewer people taking domestic flights in Germany?

The Flughafen München may be gigantic (a full 16 square kilometres), but it only consists of two terminals, one for flights within the Schengen Zone and one for those outside of it. 

The airport itself, known for being immaculately clean with friendly staff (especially by German standards), frequently tops lists of the best airports in Europe.

Anyone who has a bit of a wait at the airport itself certainly won’t be bored: it offers amenities like a mini golf course, playground and countless shops and restaurants on site – as well as a Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market) over the holiday season.

It’s only a 40 minute train ride to reach the Flughafen from downtown Munich.


Salzberg airport

A flight taking off from the scenic Salzburg airport. Photo: picture alliance / Salzburger Flughafen GmbH/dpa-tmn | Salzburger Flughafen GmbH

Austria’s second largest airport, Salzburg’s Wolfgang Amadeus Airport, is known as a gateway to numerous ski destinations in the area. During both take off and landing, passengers will take in stunning views of the Alps.

It’s also a popular hub for budget airlines such as RyanAir and WizzAir, but for most intercontinental flights you’ll need to look further afield to Munich or Vienna. However, as of 2019, the airport offers flights to Tel Aviv, Israel (with Austrian Airlines) and Dubai (with flydubai), and of December 16th this year will also start offering flights via Lufthansa to London-Heathrow.

All in all, passengers can fly to 52 destinations with 19 different airlines. The small airport, spread out over two terminals and 175 acres, can accommodate up to 1,400 passengers per hour.

Despite its modest size, it offers a slew of amenities, including a toy-filled kids play corner and a restaurant with local specialties and a giant telescope, for all ages, to watch flights as they depart. 

It’s easy to reach the airport, or just an approximately half hour bus ride from the centre of Salzburg.

READ ALSO: Why are flights to and from Austria so expensive this summer?

Vienna International Airport

Passengers at the Vienna International Airport on August 4, 2021.(Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP)

Not surprisingly, Vienna International Airport is Austria’s largest Flughafen. Consisting of four terminals spread over 1,000 hectares, it offers not only a wide variety of Europe-bound flights but also serves destinations in Asia, North America and Africa.

Flughafen Wien-Schwechat, as its known in German, is the hub of Austrian Airlines, as well as a “focus city” – or base outside of their main hubs – for budget airlines Ryanair and WizzAir, as well as Korean Air Cargo.

In 2022, it counted a full 23,682,133 passengers but is still down from its pre-pandemic all-time peak of  31,662,189 in 2019.

It boasts flights to 192 destinations in 62 countries, and also offers 4 domestic flights.

The well organised facility offers many restaurants, shops and even a ‘Family Fun Area’ for those travelling with kids, replete with a climbing wall, slide and labyrinth.

From the centre of Vienna, it’s possible to reach the airport in 16 minutes using a CAT (City Airport Train) or about a half hour with an ÖBB train. From the Salzburg area, it’s possible to reach the airport in about two hours and 50 minutes using the fastest ÖBB connection. 

Reader question: How do I get from Vienna Airport to the city centre?