The world's airlines are calling for help, urging governments around the globe to safely re-open borders while continuing with relief measures, to help sustain the industry during the COVID-19 crisis.
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The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which accounts for some 290 airlines or 82% of total air traffic, has been frustrated over closed borders, travel restrictions and quarantine measures that "continue to annihilate travel demand," according to its latest announcement.
The association pointed to a "disappointing peak (Northern Hemisphere) summer travel season" in which four in five potential travelers stayed home compared to a year ago. Total July traffic was 79.8% below 2019 levels while international traffic was down 91.9%, according to IATA.
Although protecting citizens "must be the top priority of governments," IATA’s director general Alexandre de Juniac argues "too many governments are fighting a global pandemic in isolation with a view that closing borders is the only solution."
Rather, de Juniac says governments need to work together to implement measures that "will enable economic and social life to resume while controlling the spread of the virus."
To help, IATA issued a three-point proposal for governments to reopen their borders safely and help reignite the battered global economy. Among its proposals, IATA suggests the ICAO Take-off guidance should be implemented universally. ICAO Take-off guidance is a framework for addressing the impact of COVID-19 on global aviation.
IATA also asserts that governments should build on the work of ICAO Council’s Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) "by developing an agreed common framework for states to use in coordinating the safe re-opening of their borders to aviation."
Lastly, IATA says governments should develop testing measures that will enable the re-opening of borders "by reducing the risk of COVID-19 importation to what is acceptable to public health authorities with accuracy, speed, and scalability that also meet the exacting requirements for incorporation into the travel process."
de Juniac cautioned that there is "much at stake and no time to lose."
At the same time, IATA also says governments need to provide more financial relief for carriers saying that any prior relief that was allocated is "quickly running out."
“Many airlines will not have the financial means to survive an indefinite shutdown that, for many, already exceeds a half-year. In these extraordinary times, governments will need to continue with financial and other relief measures to the greatest extent possible," IATA said.
Airlines for America, an industry trade organization representing the leading U.S. airlines, told FOX Business that it "supports the U.S. government exploring opportunities to reopen critical international markets to passenger traffic through pilot programs with key foreign partners."
In the meantime, the group says it remains "committed to restoring service in a manner that prioritizes the wellbeing of our passengers, employees and crew," the spokesperson said.