Iata called for Covid testing of air passengers and state aid for airlines as it pushed back its forecast for a recovery in the demand and pricing of flights to 2024.
The airline association described the situation as “grim”, with Iata director general Alexandre de Juniac saying: “There was more flying in June, but we are in a very deep crisis and it does not appear it will end any time soon.”
De Juniac noted: “The improvements have been in domestic markets led by China. US domestic flying is still 80% below a year ago and international demand is still down over 95%.
“Consumer confidence is depressed. In many parts of the world infections are still rising. Most countries are still closed to international arrivals or have imposed quarantines.
“Summer is passing rapidly, with little chance for an upswing in international air travel unless governments move quickly and decisively to find alternatives to border closures, stop-start re-openings and quarantine.”
He warned: “The recovery will take longer than we previously expected. We now think it will be 2024 and this could slip further if we have setbacks in containing the virus or finding a vaccine.”
De Juniac insisted: “Travel restrictions are the most immediate problem.”
He added: “It is increasingly apparent that Covid-19 testing will need to play a role.
“I’m not suggesting testing should be a blanket requirement for re-opening, but there are already tests accurate enough to facilitate relaxing travel restrictions if taken 24-28 hours before travellers head to the airport.
“As tests become faster and more scalable, these could take place closer to the traveller’s flight time and in the vicinity of the airport.”
De Juniac also called for “relief measures”, saying: “A slower recovery will put more airlines in financial peril.”
He urged governments to provide both “direct financial assistance [and] regulatory relief”, saying: “The most pressing issue is alleviation of the 80-20 use-it-or-lose-it rule for slot allocation.
“The situation is so volatile that it is next to impossible to predict how demand will develop over the next months.
“Adding the extra burden of planning a schedule today to secure slots that an airline may need in 2021 or 2022 makes little sense. We are asking governments to urgently confirm a waiver.”
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