Greater momentum towards reopening borders, lifting travel restrictions
Nearly half of the world’s top 50 air travel markets are now open to vaccinated travelers without quarantine measures or testing requirements, indicating growing momentum towards reopening borders and easing travel restrictions, as Covid -19 enters the endemic phase.
An IATA survey of travel restrictions for the world’s top 50 air travel markets (representing 88% of international demand in 2019, measured in revenue passenger-kilometres) revealed the growing access available to vaccinated travellers.
Some 25 markets representing 38% of 2019 international demand are open to vaccinated travelers without quarantine measures or testing requirements – up from 18 markets (28% of 2019 international demand) in mid-February, it reveals .
Some 38 markets representing 65% of international demand in 2019 are open to vaccinated travelers with no quarantine requirement, up from 28 markets (50% of international demand in 2019) in mid-February.
Repeated passenger surveys by IATA during the pandemic have shown that testing and especially quarantine are major barriers to travel.
Many European states have already lifted national Covid restrictions, such as the need to provide health documents to participate in social events, or the obligation to wear masks in public spaces.
Contact tracing efforts are also halted, making passenger locator forms (PLFs) superfluous for international travel.
As European countries open and remove restrictions, IATA insists it makes sense to remove similar restrictions from air travel.
However, some restrictions still apply to intra-EU and Schengen travel, which all global airlines want to remove.
This includes testing requirements and the need to present proof of vaccination or complete a passenger locator form.
Travel to Asia still remains heavily compromised by Covid restrictions. While North American and European international traffic rebounded to -42% from its 2019 peaks last year, Asia-Pacific traffic remained at -88%.
Even in this region, however, progress has been made, with India and Malaysia among the countries that recently announced an easing of restrictions.
Earlier this month, India announced the resumption of “scheduled international commercial passenger services” and the withdrawal of the “air bubble” arrangement from March 27.
The resumption of “scheduled international commercial passenger services” or scheduled international flights coincides with the start of the summer timetable (for international air travel) in India.
Scheduled international flight services have remained suspended in India since March 23, 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Malaysia will allow quarantine-free entry for fully vaccinated travelers from April 1, ending nearly two years of stringent border controls introduced to contain the Covid-19 outbreak.
The reopening marks the final stage in the lifting of the virus curbs, as Malaysia joins other Southeast Asian countries in moving into the endemic phase of the outbreak.
The Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand are among Southeast Asian countries that have waived quarantine, while Indonesia is laying out plans to allow quarantine-free entry for foreigners traveling to Bali.
The easing of measures in India, Malaysia and other major markets studied by IATA reflects the growing consensus that travel restrictions such as border closures and quarantine do little to control the spread of Covid-19. 19.
A recent report by OXERA and Edge Health examining the spread of the Omicron variant in Europe concluded that travel restrictions could only delay the peak of a wave by a few days.
“The world is wide open to travel. As population immunity increases, more and more governments are managing Covid-19 through surveillance, as they do for other endemic viruses. This is great news for a growing number of destinations that will receive a much-needed economic boost during the upcoming Easter and Northern Summer travel seasons. Asia is the exception.
“Hopefully recent relaxations, including in Australia, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Pakistan and the Philippines, pave the way for the restoration of the freedom to travel that is more widely enjoyed in other parts of the world,” he said. said Willie Walsh, Director General of IATA.
In a recent statement, IATA said that in an effort to stop the spread of the Omicron variant and due to imposed travel restrictions, air data retrieval in January 2022 compared to December 2021 has slowed for air travel. national and international.
Meanwhile, total air travel demand increased in January 2022 by 82.3% compared to January 2021, but compared to the previous month; December 2021 decreased by 4.9%.