Alexandre de Juniac, director of International Air Transport Association, on September 1 opened another press briefing outlining the difficult environment continuing to impact global commercial aviation. The International Air Transport Association (IATA), representing close to 300 airlines in 120 countries, has been providing regular updates since the end of March to keep the industry informed about its unique economic challenges in facing COVID-19.
“I was hoping that today we could report a strong northern summer season and with a clear vision to a recovery for aviation,” said de Juniac “Unfortunately… that is far from the industry’s reality today. Borders are largely closed. And government management of travel restrictions is so unpredictable and uncoordinated that people are still not flying.”
de Juniac points to the many efforts introduced by the industry to reassure governments that flying is safe. This includes global protocols, developed with the support of the World Health Organization, that were agreed to by many governments back in June for safely re-starting aviation.
Countries including Canada have implemented the many of these guidelines, but de Juniac notes the lack of actual results in restarting commercial aviation is largely because there is no coordination to manage the re-opening of borders. He explains quarantine measures, in particular, are keeping aviation, travel and tourism effectively in lock down.
Acknowledging that the top priority of the crisis revolves around the health and safety of citizens, de Juniac states there are alternative measures available to keep people safe and enable global connectivity. To this end, he introduced an IATA-proposed three-point plan to safely re-open borders, including:
• Implement the ICAO Take-off Guidelines universally;
• Building on the work of ICAO Council’s Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) by developing an agreed common framework for states to use in coordinating the safe re-opening of their borders to aviation; and
• Developing COVID-19 testing measures that will enable the re-opening of borders by reducing the risk of COVID-19 importation to what is acceptable to public health authorities with accuracy, speed and scalability that also meet the exacting requirements for incorporation into the travel process.
IATA points to what it describes as two other important aviation-support reminders for governments, including the fact that financial relief measures are still needed and, second, that there is an urgent need for a waiver of the 80-20 use-it-or-lose-it slot rule, which has been granted in countries like Australia, New Zealand, China, Singapore, Brazil and Mexico.