People want to travel. Domestic demand has recovered to a significant percentage of pre-crisis levels.

But governments are making it far too difficult to cross borders by plane. So even with the boost of the Northern Hemisphere summer season, international travel is at around a quarter of a normal year.

Some countries are effectively closed to foreign visitors—Australia, New Zealand and China, for example. Others, such as Mexico, are largely open. Many countries lie in between.

Of course, governments have a responsibility to protect the health of their populations. But data and experience tell us that can be achieved without restrictions that effectively deny people the freedom to travel.

 “Cargo is leading the way in terms of recovery. Its strong performance demonstrates how critical cargo is to keeping global supply chains moving at the moment. And I think you've got to give credit to airlines who have been able to pivot their passenger operations to supply cargo capacity.”

As a top priority, people who have been vaccinated should not face entry restrictions. And for those who are not, we need to find some harmonized rules, supported by data, that will keep people safe and restore their freedom to travel.

It sounds simple, but we have a lot of work to do. That is illustrated in Europe. Even with a common framework and a world-leading tool—the EU Digital Covid Certificate—there is little harmonization in terms of entry requirements. For example, 30% don’t recognize antigen testing; 41% don’t accept vaccinated travelers from low-risk non-EU countries; and passenger locator forms are not standardized.

It’s a mess of confusing requirements that needs to be cleaned-up. COVID-19 will be with us for the foreseeable future. We need to find efficient ways to live—and travel—with it.

That is a critical message from this year’s IATA AGM and World Air Transport Summit. Gathering in Boston will send a signal that in-person meetings are possible —a reminder that video calls can never deliver the value of meeting for real.

Willie Walsh, IATA Director General

On blocked airline funds.

“Governments are preventing nearly $1 billion of airline revenues from being repatriated. This contravenes international conventions.”

On the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s acceptance of IATA Travel Pass.

“The trust that the KSA has placed in IATA Travel Pass is an example for other governments to follow.”

On the European Commission’s (EC) decision to set the winter slot use threshold at 50%.

“Once again the Commission has shown they are out of touch with reality. The Commission had an open goal to use the slots regulation to promote a sustainable recovery for airlines, but they missed. Instead, they have shown contempt for the industry, and for the many member states that repeatedly urged a more flexible solution.”

Image credit | Sam Kerr