The International Air Transport Association (Iata) said the airline industry is now on top of the worst of the Covid pandemic, but urged governments to simplify travel rules and open borders to help the aviation sector to operate in a phase now “endemic” of the virus.
Total industry losses are set to fall to $ 11.6 billion (£ 8.5 billion) in 2022, according to Iata’s forecast, which would mean a cumulative loss of just over $ 200 billion. dollars in three years because of Covid.
Iata CEO Willie Walsh said: “We are past the deepest point of the crisis. Although serious problems remain, the road to recovery is looming. “
Walsh called for harmonization of travel restrictions. With improved data, knowledge, vaccines and testing, he said, “the idea that the measures we put in place in February 2020 are relevant today is a no-no. sense”.
He continued, “Travel restrictions are a complex and confusing set of rules with very little consistency between them. And there is little evidence to support the ongoing border restrictions and the economic havoc they create.
“When people are fully immunized, they should be allowed to travel without restriction or testing. “
The UK government on Monday removed its much criticized traffic light system and relaxed testing rules for vaccinated travelers, a move that coincided with both the opening of Iata’s global AGM in Boston, Massachusetts, and the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.
However, the change did not stop Walsh from criticizing the UK in particular. He said: “Of the 3 million arrivals between February and August, only 42,000 tested positive – less than 250 per day. Meanwhile, the UK daily case count stands at 35,000 and the economy – outside of international travel – is wide open. People should be just as free to travel.
He said of the 6.4 million PCR tests carried out by arrivals in the UK, “they’ve sequenced 16,000 – that’s obvious nonsense. The data clearly indicates that the industry is safe… UK Passenger Tracking Form has 36 questions; I doubt anyone has considered the answers to any of these questions. We need a sensible approach.
He said mask-wearing on board should not remain necessary indefinitely, warning that security measures put in place after the 9/11 terrorist attacks have persisted two decades later, despite technology making them redundant: “We do not shouldn’t have measures in place one more day than needed. “
Walsh, the former managing director of British Airways owner IAG, meanwhile slammed his “old friends” at Heathrow by denouncing suppliers, including airports and air traffic control services around the world, for “rescue scandalous “airlines with significant increases in charges to cover their Covid losses.
He said London Airport was “off the map” with a proposed 90% increase next year. “We all want to put Covid-19 behind us. But putting the financial burden of a crisis of apocalyptic proportions on the backs of your customers, just because you can, is a business strategy only a monopoly supplier could imagine.
“It’s unacceptable behavior to take advantage of your customers during the good times and stay loyal to them in the bad times. “
A Heathrow spokesperson said: ‘After years of falling prices, we are now raising airline prices to ensure that the world-class facilities we offer them can be sustainably funded. We welcome feedback from our airline partners and will continue to work with them to help the industry recover. “