IATA calls for faster lifting of restrictions

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Scenes like this one at Suvarnabhumi Airport are becoming rare as travel starts to resume in Asia and elsewhere. (PHOTO: Shutterstock)

https://magellangroup.net/engine-sales-leasing-aavThe International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released data showing growing momentum in the recovery of air travel as COVID-19 pandemic restrictions are lifted and frustrated passengers hurry to return to the air.

Airlines like Singapore Airlines have had to ground thousands of planes due to the COVID-19 pandemic and near shutdown of international aviation. (PHOTO: Steve Strike/Outback Photographics)

Improved Ticket Sales

  • IATA reported a sharp 11-percentage point increase for international tickets sold in recent weeks (in proportion to 2019 sales).
  • In the period around 8 February (7 day moving average) the number of tickets sold stood at 49 percent of the same period in 2019.
  • In the period around 25 January (7 day moving average) the number of tickets sold stood at 38 percent of the same period in 2019.
  • The 11-percentage point improvement between the January and February periods is the fastest such increase for any two-week period since the crisis began.

Progressive Alleviation of COVID-19 Measures

  • The jump in ticket sales comes as more governments announce a relaxation of COVID-19 border restrictions. An IATA survey of travel restrictions for the world’s top 50 air travel markets (comprising 92 percent of global demand in 2019 as measured by revenue passenger kilometres) revealed the growing access available to vaccinated travellers.
  • 18 markets (comprising about 20 percent of 2019 demand) are open to vaccinated travelers without quarantine or pre-departure testing requirements.
  • 28 markets are open to vaccinated travellers without quarantine requirements (including the 18 markets noted above). This comprises about 50 percent of 2019 demand.
  • 37 markets (comprising about 60 percent of 2019 demand) are open to vaccinated travellers under varying conditions (18 having no restrictions, others requiring testing or quarantine or both).

These numbers reflect a spate of relaxations announced around the world, including in Australia, France, the Philippines, the UK, Switzerland, and Sweden among them, IATA said.

IATA Director General Willie Walsh at the 2021 annual general meeting in Boston. (PHOTO: IATA)

“Momentum toward normalising traffic is growing. Vaccinated travelers have the potential to travel much more extensively with fewer hassles than even a few weeks ago. This is giving growing numbers of travelers the confidence to buy tickets. And that is good news! Now we need to further accelerate the removal of travel restrictions. While recent progress is impressive, the world remains far from 2019 levels of connectivity. Thirteen of the top 50 travel markets still do not provide easy access to all vaccinated travelers. That includes major economies like China, Japan, Russia, Indonesia, and Italy,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general.

IATA said it continues to call for removing all travel barriers (including quarantine and testing) for those fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine; enabling quarantine-free travel for non-vaccinated travelers with a negative pre-departure antigen test result; removing travel bans, and accelerating the easing of travel restrictions in recognition that travelers pose no greater risk for COVID-19 spread than already exists in the general population.

“Travel restrictions have had a severe impact on people and on economies. They have not, however, stopped the spread of the virus. And it is time for their removal as we learn to live and travel in a world that will have risks of COVID-19 for the foreseeable future. This means putting a stop to the singling out of the traveling population for special measures. In nearly all cases, travelers don’t bring any more risk to a market than is already there. Many governments have recognised this already and removed restrictions. Many more need to follow,” said Walsh.

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