Airlines hinge connectivity on open borders, support
World airlines have urged governments to work together to urgently find ways to re-establish global connectivity by re-opening borders, and to continue with relief measures to sustain airlines during the COVID-19 crisis.
The airlines, under the aegis of International Air Transport Association (IATA), expressed the industry’s frustration as government policies such as closed borders, travel restrictions, and quarantines continue to annihilate travel demand.
This was evident in a disappointing “peak (Northern Hemisphere) summer travel season” that saw minimal improvements compared to the May-June period, as four in five potential travellers stayed home, based on comparisons with the year-ago period.
IATA’s Director-General and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Alexandre de Juniac, said governments protecting citizens must be the top priority, “but too many governments are fighting a global pandemic in isolation with a view that closing borders is the only solution.
“It’s time for governments to work together to implement measures that will enable economic and social life to resume, while controlling the spread of the virus,” de Juniac said.
Specifically, IATA called for governments to grasp the seriousness of the crisis facing the airline industry and its consequences for their citizens; as well as focus attention on re-opening borders, continuing relief measures and global leadership.
Indeed, the world remains largely closed to travel despite the availability of global protocols to enable the safe re-start of aviation (Take-off guidance) developed by governments through the leadership of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO).
This guidance covers all aspects of the passenger journey, and recommends sanitary measures to keep travellers safe and reduce the risk of importing infection.
“Airlines have been largely grounded for a half-year. And the situation is not improving. In fact, in many cases it is going in the wrong direction. We see governments replacing border closures with quarantine for air travellers. Neither will restore travel or jobs.
“Worse, governments are changing the entry requirements with little notice to travellers or coordination with their trading partners. This uncertainty destroys demand. Ten per cent of the global economy is sustained by travel and tourism; governments need to do better to re-start it,” de Juniac said.
The prerequisite to open borders is the ICAO Take-off guidance. Additionally, IATA is proposing travel bubbles to mitigate risks between specific markets, and foresees a much wider and strategic use of COVID-19 testing as technology improves accuracy, speed and scalability.
“No government wants to import COVID-19. Equally, no government should want to see the economic hardships and associated health impacts of mass unemployment.
Successfully getting through this crisis requires careful risk-management with effective measures. If government policies focus on enabling a safe re-start, aviation is well-prepared to deliver. Risk-management is a well-developed discipline that airlines rely on to keep travel safe and secure.”
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