If Covid Management Were the Olympics, This Country Would Have Won Gold

I was speaking with a friend from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) recently, and he had an interesting observation I want to share with you.

Some countries have climates and athletes that are better suited for the Winter Olympic Games, and others for the Summer Olympic Games. Every country on earth had to deal with Covid, though, whether they’re hot or cold, rich or poor.

Two Olympic Games have been held since the pandemic began, but according to my friend, Covid management has been the real test of a nation’s skills and strengths.

If that were the case, then the UAE is the gold winner, by a few estimations. My friend may be biased, but he’s very happy with how his country managed risk. I was in Dubai last October for the AIM Summit, and I was impressed with not just the reasonable Covid precautions but also the city’s infrastructure and futuristic architecture.

In February, the UAE topped Bloomberg’s “Covid Resilience Ranking.” The country, which relaxed entry requirements last month, had the most vaccine doses per 100 people and relatively low lockdown severity. Commercial flight capacity was down, but not nearly as much as others. If you’re curious, you can see the full list here.

Airlines Execs Seek End to Masks and Tests, Optimistic of Summer Travel

Here in the U.S., executives of the biggest airlines are urging the Biden administration to bring an end to Covid-era travel restrictions. In an open letter, the CEOs of American, Delta, United, Southwest and others write that predeparture testing requirements and mask mandates “no longer make sense in the current public health context.”

Indeed, domestic and international traffic is up as passengers’ comfort level with taking a flight is at its highest level since the pandemic began, according to a survey by Evercore ISI. The firm’s sales survey also shows that bookings rose for a ninth straight week as of March 22, with leisure demand driving much of the growth.

International travel continues to lag domestic travel, but it’s also strengthening. Evercore ISI analysts Oscar Sloterbeck and James Walsh believe capacity is poised to increase next month (April) as we head into the busy summer travel season.

This belief is confirmed by Expedia, which expects an “amazing summer.” Expedia for Business president Ariane Gorin said this week that the online booking agency is seeing a rise in the number of U.S. travelers searching for European packages. “People are keen to spend the money that they have saved during the pandemic on travel,” she said.

Numbers don’t lie: Google searches in the U.S. for “flights to Europe” hit a pandemic high at the end of February. I expect to see the metric jump ever higher next month as families lock in their summer travel plans.