Top airline executives are becoming increasingly frustrated as government policies such as closed borders, travel restrictions and quarantines continue to hamper the recovery of travel demand.
“Protecting their citizens must be the top priority of governments,” said Alexandre de Juniac, CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
“But too many governments are fighting a global pandemic in isolation with a view that closing borders is the only solution.”
De Juniac said it was 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”.
IATA’s call for action follows a disappointing ‘peak 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 same period last year.
Total July 2020 traffic was 80% below 2019 levels while international traffic in July 2020 was 92% below 2019 levels.
“Airlines have been largely grounded for a half-year,” de Juniac said. “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 percent of the global economy is sustained by travel and tourism; governments need to do better to re-start it.”
IATA is proposing travel bubbles to mitigate risks between specific markets and foresees a much wider and strategic use of Covid19 testing as technology improves accuracy, speed and scalability.
De Juniac also called for continued financial relief from governments.
“Many airlines will not have the financial means to survive an indefinite shutdown that, for many, already exceeds a half-year. In these extraordinary times, governments will need to continue with financial and other relief measures to the greatest extent possible.
“It’s a solid investment in the recovery because each airline job saved supports 24 in the broader economy. And a functioning airline industry will be a critical enabler for economies to regain their full power.”
The global airline industry is set to lose in excess of $84 billion this year amid a 50% drop in revenues.