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Air Travel Remains Restrictive in the New Year

by Ajay Prakash

If you were planning a vacation this winter to any sunny locations, you might have had to drop the idea. With COVID19 resurfacing in several European countries and still not subsiding in the United States, there is little hope of revival of air travel in the immediate new-year (2021).

IATA’s Travel Center has published a COVID19 Travel Restrictions Map. The interactive map is for the benefit of passengers planning to travel to countries during the pandemic period. One may observe that the majority of countries have partial restrictions in place. These countries so far have permitted travel for their own citizens only.

IATA COVID19 Map – © IATA TravelCenter

Is There Any Relation Between COVID19 infections and Air Travel Restrictions?

There is no correlation between COVID19 infections and the travel restrictions imposed by governments. For instance, Australia had one of the lowest COVID19 infections but has banned international travel all through 2021. Similarly, in India, the infections were less than 20 percent compared to June-July last year, but a ban on international flights has been extended all through January with no clear date of lifting the ban. The uncertainty in policymaking is also evident when India banned flights from the UK ten days ago and re-opened a week later without providing any plausible reason. Countries appear to be afraid of ‘importing’ COVID. Lastly, the governments review these travel restrictions daily, which only adds to the uncertainty.

IATA Data Showed No Improvement in Passenger Traffic in November 2020

IATA November Passenger Data Summary © IATA

The latest data released on 7 January by IATA for November passenger traffic showed no improvement over October. The revenues per kilometer (RPK) are down seventy percent (70%) compared to the same period in 2019. The passenger load factors are still fifty-eight percent (58%), which has not shown any improvement over the previous months.

IATA Blasts Canada’s New Quarantine Rule

IATA has expressed ‘frustration’ at the new travel restrictions imposed earlier this week by the Canadian government. A negative RT-PCR test taken 72 hours before the flight is needed and then followed by a fourteen (14) day quarantine on arrival in the country. IATA called this requirement “callous and impractical” and “worst of both worlds.”

In its latest estimates, the Association has pointed out that the aviation sector’s direct GDP contribution to Canada’s economy has dropped by US$10.39 billion in 2020 vs. 2019, placing some 146,000 Canadian jobs at risk.

IATA’s press release statement sums up the mood.

We need to start 2021 by taking steps to safely live with COVID-19. What is the point of implementing testing if it does not result in a lifting of border closures nor quarantine requirements? After nine-months of closed borders and confinement, we cannot afford to move in the wrong direction with the disastrous implementation of a counter-productive testing policy.”

We look forward to your views. Write to us in the comments section below and let us know – Are you hoping to fly this year?

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