The International Air Transport Association (IATA) which hosted its General Assembly on October 4 in Boston, has called for an end to wildly inconsistent Covid-19 travel restrictions that are stalling the recovery of air transport.

IATA is urging governments to implement simplified regimes to manage the risks of Covid-19 as borders re-open to international travel. 

“Travel restrictions bought governments time to respond in the early days of the pandemic. Nearly two years later, that rationale no longer exists. Covid-19 is present in all parts of the world. Travel restrictions are a complex and confusing web of rules with very little consistency among them. And there is little evidence to support ongoing border restrictions and the economic havoc they create,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General. 

Since June, several key markets have taken steps to open to vaccinated travellers. Europe was an early mover, followed by Canada, the UK, the US and Singapore.

IATA supports these moves and encourages all governments to consider the following framework for re-opening borders:  

  • Vaccines should be made available to all as quickly as possible; 
  • Vaccinated travellers should not face any barriers to travel;
  • Testing should enable those without access to vaccines to travel without quarantine; 
  • Antigen tests are the key to cost-effective and convenient testing regimes; and 
  • Governments should pay for testing, so it does not become an economic barrier to travel.

A recent survey of the top 50 travel markets, accounting for 92% of global traffic, reveals an urgent need for simplification of the various measures governments are using. 

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