The International Air Transport Association (IATA) 76th Annual General Meeting (AGM) unanimously resolved to urgently call on governments to re-open borders to travel. IATA is proposing systematic testing of international travelers which would permit the lifting of border restrictions and provide an alternative to current quarantine rules.
Quarantines essentially kill demand for air travel and governments need to immediately consider the drastic socio-economic effect this is having. International air travel continues to be down 90% on 2019 levels. Current estimates are that as many as 46 million jobs supported by air travel could be lost and that the economic activity sustained by aviation will be reduced by US $1.8 trillion.
“People want and need global mobility. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Take-off measures make flying safe. But border closures, movement restrictions and quarantine measures make travel impossible for most. We must manage how we live with the virus. But that does not have to mean destroying aviation, risking millions of jobs, crippling economies and tearing apart the international social fabric. We could safely open borders today with systematic COVID-19 testing,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
In its resolution the AGM also reaffirmed the industry’s continuing commitment to implementing globally agreed biosafety protocols, encouraged governments to implement guidance developed by ICAO, and asked governments to ensure that aviation staff and international travelers are prioritized for COVID-19 vaccination once safe and effective treatments become available and health care workers and vulnerable groups have been protected.
The AGM also reinforced the vital role of air transport in facilitating the global response to the pandemic, including the timely distribution of medicines, testing kits, protective equipment and eventually vaccines around the world.