International Air Transport Association (Iata) director-general Wille Walsh has criticised governments for their behaviour towards international air travel, as the Covid-19 pandemic begins, in many countries, to be brought under control. Governments were not being transparent or coherent regarding the restarting of air travel.
“There’s still quite some uncertainty out there,” he pointed out. “Advanced notice of any border openings would be very helpful [to airlines].”
Nor were governments coordinating with each other when reopening their borders to international travel. This was true even within the European Union, despite the efforts of the European Commission to achieve such coordination.
Further, governments were not following scientific and medical advice. Why, he queried, was Canada open to vaccinated Canadian citizens but not to vaccinated non-Canadians? And why were the UK and US not yet open to travel, despite the high proportions of their populations which had already been vaccinated?
However, vaccination roll-outs would have a significant impact on the airline sector during the second half of this year. Vaccination, he affirmed, was the key to restarting air travel. But unvaccinated people should also be allowed to fly, provided they had negative Covid-19 test results.
“We believe governments need to take a much more open approach to risk management,” he affirmed. Surveys conducted among travellers on behalf of Iata showed that people wanted to resume air travel, but that many found it a “real challenge” to understand Covid-19 travel rules, while arranging a Covid-19 test was a hassle.
Surveys also showed that most people would resume flying within six months of the ending of any restrictions. However, 85% would not travel if they had to quarantine at their destination. No less than 84% of those surveyed agreed that Covid-19 would not disappear and would have to be managed, while 84% were of the view that reopening borders required a balance between managing the risk of Covid-19 and getting national economies going again. And, as for reopening borders, 42% said that their countries should reopen their borders to most countries, while another 22% stated that borders should be reopened to all countries.