Airline sector urges nations to end travel restrictions

As Australia opened its doors to tourists after a two year ban, the world’s airlines have renewed calls for an increase in the pace of further relaxation to travel rules.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) made the calls as its latest data showed growing momentum in the recovery of air travel as restrictions are lifted.

The increase reflected a spate of relaxations announced around the world, including Australia, France, the Philippines, the UK, Switzerland, and Sweden.

IATA reported a 11% increase for international tickets sold in recent weeks, compared to levels in 2019.

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

Currently 18 markets (comprising about 20% of 2019 demand) are open to vaccinated travellers without quarantine or pre-departure testing requirements. In total 28 markets are open to vaccinated travellers without quarantine requirements. This comprises about 50% of 2019 demand.

Globally IATA said 37 markets, comprising about 60% of 2019 demand, are open to vaccinated travellers under varying conditions.

“Momentum toward normalising traffic is growing, said Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general. “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!

“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.”

He added: “Travel restrictions have had a severe impact on people and on economies. 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 recognised this already and removed restrictions. Many more need to follow.”

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