The International Air Transport Association (Iata) has said that the airline industry has weathered the worst of the Covid pandemic, but urged governments to simplify travel rules and open borders to help the aviation sector operate. within a now “endemic” phase of the virus.
Total industry losses are expected to fall to $ 11.6 billion (£ 8.5 billion) in 2022, according to Iata’s forecasts, which would mean a cumulative loss of just over $ 200 billion over three years as a result of Covid.
Iata CEO Willie Walsh said: “We are past the deepest point of the crisis. While serious problems persist, the road to recovery is in sight. “
Walsh called for harmonization of travel restrictions. Given the improvement in data, knowledge, vaccines and testing, he said, “the idea that the measures we implemented in February 2020 are relevant today is nonsense.”
He said: “Travel restrictions are a complex and confusing web of rules with very little consistency between them. And there is little evidence to support the ongoing border restrictions and the economic havoc they create. “
He added: “When people are fully vaccinated, they should be allowed to travel without restrictions or testing.”
The UK government on Monday removed its much-criticized traffic light system and relaxed testing rules for vaccinated travelers, a move that coincided with both the opening of the Iata Global AGM in Boston, Massachusetts, and the party’s conference. Conservative in Manchester.
However, the change did not stop Walsh from singling out the UK for special criticism. He said: “Of the 3 million arrivals between February and August, only 42,000 tested positive, or less than 250 a day. Meanwhile, the daily case count in the UK is 35,000 and the economy, other than international travel, is wide open. People should have the same freedom to travel. “
He said that out of 6.4 million PCR tests performed by UK arrivals, “they sequenced 16,000, it’s sheer nonsense. The data is clear that the industry is safe … The UK Passenger Locator Form has 36 questions; I doubt anyone has looked at the answers to any of those questions. We need a sensitive approach. “
He said that the use of masks on board should not be necessary indefinitely, warning that the security measures implemented after the terrorist attacks of September 11 persisted two decades later, despite the fact that technology makes them redundant: “We should not have measures implemented one more day than necessary. “
Meanwhile, Walsh, the former chief executive of IAG, owner of British Airways, criticized his “old friends” at Heathrow when he denounced providers, including airports and air traffic control services around the world, for “abusing outrageously “from airlines with sizable increases. in charges to cover your Covid losses.
He said London airport was “off the table” with a proposed increase of 90% next year. “We all want to leave Covid-19 behind. But putting the financial burden of a crisis of apocalyptic proportions on the back of its customers, just because it can, is a business strategy that only a monopoly supplier could dream of.
“It’s unacceptable behavior to benefit from your customers during good times and stick with them in bad.”
A Heathrow spokesperson said: “After years of falling prices, we are now raising prices to airlines to ensure that the world-class facilities we provide can be financed sustainably. We welcome feedback from our airline partners and will continue to work with them to help the industry recover. “