Quarantine restrictions will be relaxed “by the end of the year or early next”, according to the head of airline association Iata.
Alexandre de Juniac, Iata director general, told a Future of Hospitality Summit: “The situation for aviation is catastrophic.
“Traffic at the end of the year will be around 35% of the 2019 level. With the cash airlines are eating month after month, we expect to need $70 billion to $80 billion for 2021.
“We’ve already seen bankruptcies. There are airlines near bankruptcy. The lack of traffic means further bankruptcies are not impossible. The sector will be smaller and with fewer players.”
De Juniac said: “The main issue is governments travel restrictions. Traffic has stopped – especially international traffic.
“When there are quarantine restrictions, the level of bookings drops 100%. Nobody is ready to fly if there is a risk of quarantine.
“So we have to convince governments to remove quarantine. But because there is a risk to re-import the virus, we propose a system to test all passengers before they fly.”
He told the virtual summit, hosted by Saudi Arabia: “We recommend testing before departure for removing quarantine. We are working bilaterally with governments to convince them to work with the same system.
“Not everyone will come immediately, but we see a lot of interest from governments who are keen to restart their economies.”
“We will see quarantine moving by the end of the year or early next year.”
De Juniac insisted: “We are convinced [it] testing will come. People are ready to be tested.
“Rapid tests are available which cost about $6. They provide a very safe filter. If we think a test is safe, it is safe.”
He added: “We are convinced passengers will be back. It is demonstrated by the example of China. In China’s domestic market restrictions have been almost abolished and traffic is 90%-95% of before.”
But de Juniac warned: “Business travel is more worrisome. I’m not sure electronic systems will replace physical meetings especially when you talk about growth, development, new markets. [But] many companies have slashed their travel budgets so we will probably see less business traffic for that reason.”
He told the summit: “We are asking governments to reduce our costs and for massive financial support. Governments have injected enormous amounts into our industry, but we still need help.”