IATA believes quarantine measures on arrival would further damage confidence in air travel. A risk-based, layered approach of globally harmonized biosecurity measures is critical for the industry restart.

IATA and Tourism Economics modeled two air travel scenarios. A baseline scenario suggests 2021 demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometers, RPKs) will be 24% below 2019 levels. Indeed, last year’s levels will not be exceeded until 2023. In a pessimistic scenario, global RPKs in 2021 could be 34% lower than 2019 levels.

IATA therefore strongly urges governments to find alternatives to maintaining or introducing arrival quarantine measures as part of post-pandemic travel restrictions. 

IATA’s April survey of recent air travelers showed that 

  • 86% of travelers were somewhat or very concerned about being quarantined while traveling
  • 69% of recent travelers would not consider travelling if it involved a 14-day quarantine period.

“Even in the best of circumstances this crisis will cost many jobs and rob the economy of years of aviation-stimulated growth,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO. “To protect aviation’s ability to be a catalyst for the economic recovery, we must not make that prognosis worse by making travel impracticable with quarantine measures. We need a solution for safe travel that addresses two challenges. It must give passengers confidence to travel safely and without undue hassle. And it must give governments confidence that they are protected from importing the virus. Our proposal is for a layering of temporary non-quarantine measures until we have a vaccine, immunity passports or nearly instant COVID-19 testing available at scale.”

IATA’s proposal for a temporary risk-based layered approach to provide governments with the confidence to open their border without quarantining arrivals includes preventing travel by those who are symptomatic with temperature screening and other measures. It also advises addressing the risks of asymptomatic travelers with governments managing a robust system of health declarations and vigorous contact tracing. 

The mutual recognition of agreed measures is critical for the resumption of international travel. This is a key deliverable of the COVID-19 Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). 

“CART has a very big job to do with little time to waste,” said de Juniac. “It must find an agreement among states on the measures needed to control COVID-19 as aviation restarts. And it must build confidence among governments that borders can be opened to travelers because a layered approach of measures has been properly implemented globally. IATA and the whole industry support this critical work.”

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