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Iata chief demands action to reopen borders

Recovery in international airline traffic continues to be stymied by extensive government travel restrictions, according to Iata.

Demand showed only marginal improvements in May over the previous month but traffic remained well below pre-pandemic levels, latest data from the airline trade body showed.

Total demand for air travel in May was down 62.7% compared to the same month in 2019.

However, that was an improvement over the 65.2% decline recorded in April versus the equivalent month in 2019.

Iata director general and former International Airlines Group chief Willie Walsh said: “We are starting to see positive developments, with some international markets opening to vaccinated travellers.

“The northern hemisphere summer travel season is now fully arrived. And it is disappointing that more governments are not moving more rapidly to use data to drive border opening strategies that would help revive tourism jobs and reunite families.”

He added: “To paraphrase an old saying, when you think that all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

“Too many governments continue to act as if the only tool in their anti-Covid-19 arsenal is a blanket border closure or an arrival quarantine.

“In fact, research from leading medical organisations around the globe confirms that vaccinated travellers pose very little risk to the local population while data show that pre-departure testing largely removes the risk of unvaccinated travellers importing Covid-19.

“It is long past time for governments to start responding to this information with more nuanced data-driven risk-based strategies.

“These will minimise the chance of importing Covid-19 while allowing the world to reopen to travel and all the opportunities it brings to reconnect with loved ones, to realise business opportunities, to explore the world or take a well-deserved vacation.”

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