Risk-Averse Governments Responsible For Prolonging Travel Crisis: IATA Boss

The Covid-19 crisis for the travel sector was prolonged BY overly risk-averse governments, said the chief of the global airline industry body IATA. He however expected that by the second half of the year, the outlook for the sector would brighten.

Governments would start rolling back restrictions by positive data on vaccine effectiveness, expected the IATA Director General Willie Walsh, the former boss of British Airways owner IAG.

“There is some good evidence there to be optimistic that, going into the second half of this year, we will see a better environment that will allow more people to travel,” he said in an interview on Friday.

The continuing travel restrictions – especially international travel, has continued to weigh down on most international air travel for almost 18 months into the Covid-19 pandemic.

There is too risk averse attitude of governments and there was need to change rules which would should reflect data that shows that vaccinated travel or travel with testing presents little risk to the infection rate of a country, Walsh, who took the top job at IATA in April, said.

“The crisis in the airline industry, which was initially caused by a health pandemic, is now really a crisis caused by restrictions being imposed by government,” Walsh said.

Singling out the United Kingdom in particular, Walsh cited rules that mandate taking at least two coronavirus tests and enter quarantine for all people entering the UK from nearly all countries.

Mixed political messages on travel had also created “incredible farcical confusion”, Walsh also said.

He said that many of the countries on the “amber list” of Britain for medium-risk travel have very, very low transmission rates.

“If I was vaccinated, I wouldn’t hesitate to fly to these countries,” he said while referring to places such as the United States, Spain, France and Italy which counted as the top destinations for Britons prior to the pandemic.

Prioritizing public health was the only focus of the cautious approach of Britain with respect to the return of international travel, the country’s government has said.

“Country classification … is guided by the evidence and analysis of a range of key factors, including rates of infection, the prevalence of variants of concern, and the country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing,” a Department for Transport spokesman of the UK said.

Walsh was confident that a travel corridor could be established between the United States and the UK in June because both the countries have high vaccination levels.

“I think there’s a good reason to be optimistic that we should be able to see the UK and U.S. open transatlantic flying again,” he said.

(Adapted from TheEconomicTimes.com)

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