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IATA calls for reopening of borders, continued relief measures

By Almot Maqolo

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is calling on 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. IATA’s call reflects deep industry 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 travelers stayed home, based on comparisons with the year-ago period. Total July 2020 traffic was 79.8% below 2019 levels. International traffic in July 2020 was 91.9% below 2019 levels.

“Protecting their citizens must be the top priority of governments. 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,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

Specifically, IATA calls for governments to grasp the seriousness of the crisis facing the airline industry and its consequences for their citizens. The association urged governments to focus their attention on re-opening borders, continuing relief measures and global leadership. IATA proposes a three-point action plan for governments to safely re-open borders which includes to implement the ICAO Take-off guidance universally, build on the solid work of ICAO Council’s Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) by developing an agreed common framework for states to use in coordinating the safe re-opening of their borders to aviation.

Also develop Covid-19 testing measures that will enable the re-opening of borders by reducing the risk of COVID-19 importation to what is acceptable to public health authorities with accuracy, speed and scalability that also meet the exacting requirements for incorporation into the travel process.

“As a participant in the ICAO CART, IATA will work with governments, medical experts and testing manufacturers to accelerate proposals specifically focused on using COVID-19 testing to re-build confidence, re-open borders, re-start aviation, re-charge demand and restore jobs. There is much at stake and no time to lose,” said de Juniac. Facing an industry loss of $84.3 billion this year, a 50% cut in revenues and high fixed costs for aircraft and labor, the financial viability of many airlines is in question. Government relief has been a critical lifeline.

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