Despite the progress of vaccinations, Alexandre de Juniac, IATA CEO, has not mixed his words with his recent remarks during the first media briefing of the year.
“Governments’ tightened borders in a knee-jerk response to a virus mutation. Canada, UK, Germany, Japan and others added testing to their COVID-19 measures without removing quarantine requirements. In other words, they have chosen policy measures that will shut down travel,” he said.
“This approach tells us that these governments are not interested in managing a balanced approach to the risks of COVID-19. They appear to be aiming for a zero-COVID world. This is an impossible task that comes with severe consequences – the full extent of which it would be impossible to calculate,” he added.
For de Juniac, testing and vaccinations should replace quarantine requirements to safely reopen borders. But will vaccines boost forward bookings?
In November last year, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce faced a backlash when he said that the airline was considering making travel pursuant on proof of vaccination.
“The Qantas Group acknowledges some people have concerns regarding vaccines. However, we believe we have a duty of care to everyone on board our aircraft to create a safe environment. All our policies are ultimately shaped by this.
“We don’t intend to formalise the detail of our vaccine requirement (including how long it might apply for) until a safe and effective one is well-established; and only then once international travel from Australia is ready to restart in earnest, which we are estimating will be between the middle-to-end of 2021,” the airline said in a statement.
This week, Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said: “It will take a significant amount of time to vaccinate the global population, particularly those in less advanced countries, or in different age groups, therefore we should not discriminate against those who wish to travel but have not been vaccinated.
“Only a tiny percentage of people around the world have so far received the vaccine, whereas there are vast numbers who have not, but who could be tested, show a negative result, and travel safely.
“The common-sense approach is to allow the free movement of people who can prove a negative test result, rather than reserve travelling or jobs for a small minority who have been vaccinated.
“Furthermore, the most vulnerable groups should be prioritised, a blanket vaccination requirement would simply discriminate against non-vulnerable groups, such as Generation X, Z and Millennials, who should be able to travel with proof of a negative COVID test.”
The restoration of international travel seems a long way off.