Airline association Iata has called on governments to avoid imposing quarantines on arriving air passengers, saying “don’t make recovery more difficult”.
Iata released new analysis suggesting the damage to air travel from Covid-19 would “severely impact” international travel and said: “Quarantine measures on arrival would further damage confidence in air travel.”
Instead, it urged “a risk-based, layered approach of globally harmonised biosecurity measures”.
Iata director general Alexandre de Juniac warned: “We have a small window to avoid the consequences of uncoordinated unilateral measures.”
The UK government has announced its intention to impose a 14-day quarantine on all arrivals from later this month, and Spain has proposed similar measures from the end of this week.
Iata “strongly” urged governments to find alternatives to quarantine measures.
It noted a survey of recent air travellers last month found 86% were concerned about being quarantined and two thirds (69%) would not consider travelling if it involved a 14-day quarantine period.
De Juniac said: “This crisis will cost many jobs and rob the economy of years of growth. We must not make the prognosis worse by making travel impracticable with quarantine measures.
“We need a solution for safe travel that gives passengers confidence to travel safely and without undue hassle, and gives governments confidence that they are protected from importing the virus.”
Iata’s bases its forecasts of recovery in demand for air travel on two possible scenarios.
Its ‘baseline scenario’, in which domestic markets open in the third quarter of this year, is that traffic in 2021 will remain 24% below the level of 2019 and one-third below Iata’s pre-coronavirus forecast, with 2019 levels of demand only surpassed in 2023.
A more ‘pessimistic scenario’, assuming a slower relaxation of travel restrictions and lockdowns extending into the third quarter of this year, would see traffic in 2021 remain 34% below the level of 2019.
De Juniac said: “Major stimulus from governments combined with liquidity injections by central banks will boost the economic recovery once the pandemic is under control.
“But rebuilding passenger confidence will take longer. And even then, individual and corporate travellers are likely to stay closer to home.”
He said: “This makes globally agreed biosecurity standards for the travel process all the more critical.”
Iata proposes preventing travel for those showing symptoms of infection, coupled with “a robust system of health declarations and vigorous contact tracing”.
The association is looking to the COVID-19 Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to find agreement among states on the measures needed.
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