The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said that while it is seen that airlines turning cash positive within the year, the near-term picture is bleak. Instead of a boost from the year-end holiday period, there are even more restrictions. Governments tightened borders in a knee-jerk response to a virus mutation.
Canada, UK, Germany, Japan and others added testing to their COVID-19 measures without removing quarantine requirements. In other words, they have chosen policy measures that will shut down travel, IATA said.
This approach tells us that these governments are not interested in managing a balanced approach to the risks of COVID-19, IATA said. They appear to be aiming for a zero-COVID world. This is an impossible task that comes with severe consequences—the full extent of which it would be impossible to calculate. But, with this approach, we know for sure that:
- The travel and tourism economy will not recover.
- Jobs will continue to disappear.
- And the lockdown’s toll on people’s mental health will continue to grow—particularly on those who are separated from loved ones.
IATA has said there is need for more balanced public policy approach—one that is based on testing as a replacement for quarantines so that we can begin addressing the severe side-effects of COVID-19 policies.
“Science tells us that travellers will not be a significant factor in community transmission if testing is used effectively. But most governments have tunnel-vision on quarantine and are not at all focused on finding ways to safely re-open borders—or alleviate the self-imposed economic and mental health hardships of the lockdowns,” IATA said.
“There was some good news over the holidays. We continued to prepare for the day that governments are ready to open borders—with testing or with vaccinations. The first pilot of the IATA Travel Pass app was launched in partnership with Singapore Airlines on routes to Kuala Lumpur and to Jakarta. We are still on track for a full rollout of the app during the first quarter of this year,” Alexandre de Juniac, director general and CEO of IATA said.
Quoting UN secretary general, Antonio Guterres, Juniac said: “Aviation is an important engine of our world and will play a critical role in lifting the world to recovery from COVID-19. Let us ensure it receives the support it needs to keep the world’s nations connected and united.”