The head of the Association of Asia-Pacific Airlines (AAPA) said travel bans and cancelled flights imposed to deal with the global outbreak of the Wuhan novel coronavirus were hurting the industry and were a disservice to the flying public.
Outgoing AAPA Director General Andrew Herdman said the blanker travel bans, government-imposed quarantine measures and other restrictions, while “well-intentioned, seem to lack any proper public health justification, whilst causing significant and widespread disruption to travel and trade activities across the world. Arbitrary restrictions and blanket travel bans are inconsistent with international health regulations and result in unnecessary inconvenience and added uncertainty among members of the public. Governments in Asia and elsewhere must strengthen dialogue and work together…to develop a more comprehensive strategy and globally co-ordinated set of policy measures in response to the current outbreak.”
Herdman said the outbreak, which has killed more than 600 people, has already had a very significant impact on demand for air travel across the region, forcing airlines to cut back or suspend services on affected routes. “The risk of crews being subjected to arbitrary quarantine measures has resulted in further operational disruption, regardless of any proper risk assessment,” he added. “Rather than impose arbitrary travel bans, we believe that passengers can be trusted to make informed decisions, provided that there is open and transparent communication of accurate information. At this critical juncture, improved cooperation and coordination by international organisations, national governments, health authorities and everybody involved in combating this global health emergency are of overriding importance.”