IATA Urges COVID Testing To Replace "Tunnel-Vision" Of Quarantines As Airline Bookings Weaken

Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw

Photo by Ecole polytechnique / Paris / France is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Although IATA sees airlines turning cash positive within the year, it says the near-term picture is bleak, as governments around the world impose even more travel restrictions.


"Instead of a boost from the year-end holiday period, we got even more restrictions," IATA CEO Alexandre de Juniac said during the association's 12JAN media briefing. "Governments tightened borders in a knee-jerk response to a virus mutation. Canada, UK, Germany, Japan and others added testing to their COVID-19 measures without removing quarantine requirements. In other words, they have chosen policy measures that will shut down travel."


According to IATA data, forward airline bookings have weakened going into the first quarter of 2021, and the association warns the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better, FlightGlobal reports.


“We’ve actually seen quite a sharp drop-off in bookings, which means that the immediate outlook looks pretty challenging,” said IATA's chief economist Brian Pearce, citing the impact of spiking virus cases and more travel restrictions being imposed by governments around the world.


On 12JAN, bookings for Q1 2021 were down 75%, 82% and 81% year-on-year respectively for JAN, FEB and MAR. At the same point in Q4 2020 IATA figures show forward bookings were down 71%, 81% and 80% year-on-year respectively for OCT, NOV and DEC.


“We can see light at the end of the tunnel,” Pearce said, but added that “it’s still some way away, and the situation is likely to get worse first."


The association expects the industry to turn cash positive in Q4 2021.


IATA reiterated its call for "consistent, well-reasoned, scientifically supported policies" -- ones that are based on testing as a replacement for quarantines to manage the risks of COVID-19 and travel.


"Science tells us that travellers will not be a significant factor in community transmission if testing is used effectively," de Juniac said. "But most governments have tunnel-vision on quarantine and are not at all focused on finding ways to safely re-open borders—or alleviate the self-imposed economic and mental health hardships of the lockdowns."

Anna Kroupina

Anna Kroupina Journalist

Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.

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