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Closed Borders Threat Aviation: IATA

By Alicia Arizpe | Wed, 09/02/2020 - 11:17

As the global aviation industry takes tentative steps towards a recovery, closed borders and quarantines might further slowdown the return to the skies, warns the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Gradually, the aviation industry seems to be recovering from its lows earlier this year when airlines across the globe grounded their fleets in response to governments’ efforts to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. In its latest traffic report, IATA describes that global aviation had a “sluggish” recovery in July as interest to travel begins to mount. In July, demand for air travel measured in revenue passenger kilometers (RPK) was 79.8 percent below 2019 levels but this number represents a significant increase over June’s 86.6 percent decrease in RPKs. The association points out that the increase in demand was linked to the reopening of the Schengen Area but domestic travel is also increasing across some markets. However, the association warns that further border closings could hamper the industry’s recovery. “Governments reopening and then closing borders or removing and then re-imposing quarantines does not give consumers confidence to make travel plans nor airlines to rebuild schedules,” says Alexandre de Juniac, Director General and CEO of IATA.

In Latin America, airlines saw a 95 percent decrease in demand in July in comparison to 2019’s levels, a number not much higher than June’s 96.2 percent drop. However, Mexican airlines seem to be going against the grain. In July, ultra-low-cost airline Volaris reported that its demand measured in revenue passenger miles (RPM) was only 47.8 percent smaller than in 2019 and pointed out that it had seen a 68.2 percent increase in demand that month in comparison to June 2020. Aeroméxico reported a similar situation, with traffic for July 2020 73.2 percent lower than the previous year but 110.7 percent higher than in June of this year.

To continue strengthening the aviation industry, IATA and other industry associations continue to help airlines implement travel safety guidelines compiled in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) “Take-off” documents. These guidelines include recommendations for the safety of passengers at all times during their journey and were created with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO). A barrier to the recovery of the sector, explains IATA, is the lack of coordination across nations. “Too many governments are fighting a global pandemic in isolation with a view that closing borders is the only solution. It is time for governments to work together to implement measures that will enable economic and social life to resume, while controlling the spread of the virus,” says de Juniac.

Alicia Arizpe Alicia Arizpe Senior Writer