The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released a new analysis showing that the damage to air travel from COVID-19 extends into the medium-term, with long-haul and international travel being the most severely impacted. In light of this analysis, the Association has outlined a long recovery process for the aviation sector.
Avoid quarantine measures
In response to recent announcements by the UK and Spain to implement a mandatory 14-day quarantine for arriving travellers as part of their plans in easing lockdown, IATA states that these quarantine measures would further damage confidence in air travel.
IATA strongly urges governments to find alternatives to maintaining or introducing arrival quarantine measures as part of post-pandemic travel restrictions. IATA’s April survey of recent air travellers showed that:
- 86% of travellers were somewhat or very concerned about being quarantined while travelling, and
- 69% of recent travellers would not consider travelling if it involved a 14-day quarantine period.
“Even in the best of circumstances this crisis will cost many jobs and rob the economy of years of aviation-stimulated growth. To protect aviation’s ability to be a catalyst for the economic recovery, we must not make that prognosis worse by making travel impracticable with quarantine measures. We need a solution for safe travel that addresses two challenges. It must give passengers confidence to travel safely and without undue hassle. And it must give governments confidence that they are protected from importing the virus. Our proposal is for a layering of temporary non-quarantine measures until we have a vaccine, immunity passports or nearly instant COVID-19 testing available at scale,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA CEO.
Risk-based layered approach
IATA’s proposal for a temporary risk-based layered approach will provide governments with the confidence to open their border without quarantining arrivals. This approach includes:
- Preventing travel by those who are symptomatic with temperature screening and other measures, and
- Addressing the risks of asymptomatic travellers with governments managing a robust system of health declarations and vigorous contact tracing.
The mutual recognition of agreed measures is critical for the resumption of international travel. This is a key deliverable of the COVID-19 Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
IATA calls for flexibility on EU Regulation 261/2004 (EU 261), which establishes common rules on compensation for passengers in the event of a cancellation, and for the European Council to issue clear guidance for airlines and consumers.
“We asked for the flexibility to issue refundable vouchers—or delayed reimbursements—that would enable airlines to preserve some precious cash to survive the crisis and ensure consumers will get their funds,” said de Juniac. “If the airlines run out of cash, people will lose their jobs, airlines could fail, and there would be negative fallout across the travel and tourism value chain. There is no public policy benefit in that.”
IATA states that every traveller must be treated fairly and given what they are owed. Flexibility on EU 261 will facilitate this while keeping the aviation sector viable during the crisis.
“We call upon the EU Member States in the Council to ensure that a harmonised approach to reimbursements and vouchers during COVID-19 is achieved through a temporary and clearly drafted adjustment of the current passenger rights framework,” concluded de Juniac.
Read the full press release Don’t make a slow recovery more difficult with quarantine measures
Read Alexandre de Juniac’s remarks
Check the Outlook for air travel in the next 5 years report (pdf), presentation by Brian Pearce, IATA’s Chief Economist
Listen to the teleconference recording (mp3).