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Vaccinated travellers should not face restrictions, says Iata boss

Demand for air travel showed “significant momentum” in July but remained far below pre-pandemic levels, according to figures from the International Air Transport Association.

Willie Walsh, Iata’s director-general, again called on governments to restore the “freedom to travel”, saying that vaccinated travellers should not face restrictions.

Total demand for air travel in July 2021 (measured in revenue passenger kilometres) was down 53.1% compared to July 2019. This is a significant improvement from June when demand was 60% below June 2019 levels.

International passenger demand in July was 73.6% below July 2019, better than the 80.9% decline recorded in June 2021 compared to two years ago.

European carriers saw their July international traffic decline 64.2% compared to July 2019, significantly bettering the 77% decrease in June compared to the same month in 2019.


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“July results reflect people’s eagerness to travel during the northern hemisphere summer,” said Walsh.

“Domestic traffic was back to 85% of pre-crisis levels, but international demand has only recovered just over a quarter of 2019 volumes.

“The problem is border control measures. Government decisions are not being driven by data, particularly with respect to the efficacy of vaccines.

“People travelled where they could, and that was primarily in domestic markets.

“A recovery of international travel needs governments to restore the freedom to travel.

“At a minimum, vaccinated travelers should not face restrictions. That would go a long way to reconnecting the world and reviving the travel and tourism sectors.”

He added: “It is clear that too many governments missed the opportunity to apply a risk-based approach to managing their borders.

“The growing number of fully vaccinated travellers and the prevalence of testing provided the chance to restore international connectivity and bring much needed relief to economies that are heavily reliant on travel and tourism.

“Instead, governments continued to behave as if it was the summer of 2020.

“Economies and the labour force will pay the price for decisions that were made not based on science, but on political expediency.

“Governments have rightly urged their populations to be vaccinated; now governments need to have confidence in the benefits of vaccinations—including the freedom to travel.”

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