ALTA Urges Coordination Among Latin American GovernmentsBy Alicia Arizpe | Mon, 08/31/2020 - 12:25
While domestic aviation has been gradually recovering from the drastic lows it faced earlier this year as measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 took hold, international aviation is still lagging behind. One of the reasons for the continued slum international aviation faces is the discrepancies in travel policies across countries and regions, explains ALTA. In Latin America, the outbreak has been highly hurtful to the local aviation industry, which is expected to close 2020 with US$4 billion in the red, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and has already seen three major airlines filing for bankruptcy protection.
As COVID-19 cases began to mount up, countries implemented policies to protect their citizens and contain the outbreak. In the Latin American region, policies varied widely. For instance, Mexico kept its borders open to all international traffic and implemented no restrictions on domestic air travel, while other major aviation hubs including Brazil, Colombia and Peru closed their borders temporarily. While countries in the region are beginning to open their borders, the temporary closures led to a significant slowdown of traffic in the entire region and led some airlines to abandon suddenly dry markets. Mexican airline Interjet, for instance, decided to close its offices in Colombia earlier this month as the country had been closed to international flights since March. Other countries in the region faced a similar situation. Air New Zealand, LATAM Airlines and Qatar Airlines stopped flying to Argentina, for example.
As countries begin to open their borders and accept international flights, industry associations urged local governments to create joint policies across the region to allow the beleaguered sector to recover. ALTA urged countries to reduce quarantines to the minimum to recover passenger confidence and reactivate the aviation and tourism sectors. The association reiterated the actions airlines are taking to protect passengers, which follow guidelines developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) compiled in “Takeoff: Guidance for Air Travel Through the COVID-19 Public Health Crisis.”