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Wednesday,  May 22, 2024 8:47 PM 

Travel momentum builds as restrictions ease, IATA says, but “world remains far from 2019 levels”

  • Air
  •   02-17-2022  8:55 am
  •   Pax Global Media

Travel momentum builds as restrictions ease, IATA says, but “world remains far from 2019 levels”
Travel momentum is building as restrictions ease, says IATA. (File photo)
Pax Global Media

New data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) shows that there is a growing momentum in the recovery of air travel as restrictions are lifted.

There was, for instance, an 11-percentage point improvement between the January and February periods, marking “the fastest such increase for any two-week period since the crisis began,” IATA said.

The jump in ticket sales comes as more governments relax COVID-19 border restrictions.

Canada, this week, announced an easing of some measures by allowing fully vaccinated travellers to use antigen tests, instead of the previously-mandatory PCR method, to fulfil pre-arrival requirements as of Feb. 28, 2022.

READ MORE: “A great first step,” but testing still deters travel: Mixed industry reactions to border update

An IATA survey of travel restrictions for the world’s top 50 air travel markets (comprising 92 per cent of global demand in 2019 as measured by revenue passenger kilometres) revealed the growing access available to vaccinated travellers.

  • 18 markets (comprising about 20 per cent of 2019 demand) are open to vaccinated travellers without quarantine or pre-departure testing requirements.
  • 28 markets are open to vaccinated travellers without quarantine requirements (including the 18 markets noted above). This comprises about 50 per cent of 2019 demand.
  • 37 markets (comprising about 60% of 2019 demand) are open to vaccinated travellers under varying conditions (18 having no restrictions, others requiring testing or quarantine or both).

These numbers reflect a spate of relaxations announced around the world, including in Australia, France, the Philippines, the UK, Switzerland, and Sweden among them.

“Momentum toward normalizing traffic is growing. Vaccinated travellers have the potential to travel much more extensively with fewer hassles than even a few weeks ago. This is giving growing numbers of travellers the confidence to buy tickets. And that is good news!” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general.

“Now we need to further accelerate the removal of travel restrictions. While recent progress is impressive, the world remains far from 2019 levels of connectivity. Thirteen of the top 50 travel markets still do not provide easy access to all vaccinated travellers. That includes major economies like China, Japan, Russia, Indonesia, and Italy,”

The fight continues

IATA says it is continuing to call for:

  • Removing all travel barriers (including quarantine and testing) for those fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine;
  • Enabling quarantine-free travel for non-vaccinated travellers with a negative pre-departure antigen test result;
  • Removing travel bans;
  • Accelerating the easing of travel restrictions in recognition that travellers pose no greater risk for COVID-19 spread than already exists in the general population.

“Travel restrictions have had a severe impact on people and on economies,” said Walsh. “They have not, however, stopped the spread of the virus. And it is time for their removal as we learn to live and travel in a world that will have risks of COVID-19 for the foreseeable future.”

“This means putting a stop to the singling out of the traveling population for special measures. In nearly all cases, travellers don’t bring any more risk to a market than is already there. Many governments have recognized this already and removed restrictions. Many more need to follow.”

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