COVID-19 test, travel ban repeal accelerating travel recovery-IATA

  • Momentum toward normalizing traffic is growing, says Walsh
  • Carriers seeing improved ticket sales


The removal of travel restrictions and cancellations of COVID-19 tests in some parts of the world is accelerating air travel as airlines are fast seeing recovery from the pandemic.

Consequently,  the International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data showing growing momentum in the recovery of air travel as restrictions are lifted.

According to the clearinghouse for over 290 international airlines in a report made available to Aviation Metric said carriers are seeing improved ticket sales.

The airlines’ representative reported a sharp 11-percentage point increase for international tickets sold in recent weeks in proportion to 2019 sales.

According to IATA, in the period around, February  8th(7-day moving average) the number of tickets sold stood at 49% of the same period in 2019, adding that in the period around  January 25th (7-day moving average) the number of tickets sold stood at 38% of the same period in 2019.

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The 11-percentage point improvement between the January and February periods, it noted is the fastest such increase for any two-week period since the crisis began.

The jump in ticket sales comes as more governments announce a relaxation of COVID-19 border restrictions.

An IATA survey of travel restrictions for the world’s top 50 air travel markets (comprising 92% of global demand in 2019 as measured by revenue passenger kilometers) revealed the growing access available to vaccinated travelers.

According to the survey, 18 markets comprising about 20% of 2019 demand) are open to vaccinated travelers without quarantine or pre-departure testing requirements.

Twenty-eight markets are open to vaccinated travelers without quarantine requirements (including the 18 markets noted above). This comprises about 50% of 2019 demand, while 37 markets comprising about 60% of 2019 demand) are open to vaccinated travelers under varying conditions (18 having no restrictions, others requiring testing or quarantine, or both).

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These numbers reflect a spate of relaxation announced around the world, including in Australia, France, the Philippines, the UK, Switzerland, and Sweden among them.

Director-General, IATA, Willie Walsh said, “Momentum toward normalizing traffic is growing. Vaccinated travelers have the potential to travel much more extensively with fewer hassles than even a few weeks ago. This is giving growing numbers of travelers the confidence to buy tickets.

“And that is good news! Now we need to further accelerate the removal of travel restrictions. While recent progress is impressive, the world remains far from 2019 levels of connectivity. Thirteen of the top 50 travel markets still do not provide easy access to all vaccinated travelers. That includes major economies like China, Japan, Russia, Indonesia, and Italy,” said Walsh.

Walsh called for the removal of all travel barriers including quarantine and testing for those fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine, enabling quarantine-free travel for non-vaccinated travelers with a negative pre-departure antigen test result,.

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He also called for the removing travel bans, and, accelerating the easing of travel restrictions in recognition that travelers pose no greater risk for COVID-19 spread than already exists in the general population.

“Travel restrictions have had a severe impact on people and on economies. They have not, however, stopped the spread of the virus. And it is time for their removal as we learn to live and travel in a world that will have risks of COVID-19 for the foreseeable future. This means putting a stop to the singling out of the traveling population for special measures. In nearly all cases, travelers don’t bring any more risk to a market that is already there. Many governments have recognized this already and removed restrictions. Many more need to follow,” said Walsh.

Wole Shadare