By John Flett
More Countries Welcome Vaccinated International Air Travelers Without Restrictions
There are continuing positive signs that the international air travel market is on its way towards pre-pandemic levels albeit at differing rates in different regions. This week the U.K. announced the lifting of all travel restrictions and countries such as Canada and New Zealand are easing quarantine and testing requirements in the coming weeks. The airline industry advocacy group IATA (International Air Transport Association) has reported that vaccinated travelers are benefitting from the continued removal of restrictions.
“The world is largely open for travel,” stated IATA director-general Willie Walsh in a press release on Thursday. “As population immunity grows, more governments are managing COVID-19 through surveillance, as they do for other endemic viruses. That is great news for a growing number of destinations that will receive a much-needed economic boost from the upcoming Easter and Northern Summer travel seasons,” said Mr. Walsh. Testing and quarantine restrictions have been cited in numerous surveys undertaken by IATA as barriers to travel.
The survey by IATA of the world’s top 50 air travel markets (comprising 88 percent of international demand in 2019 as measured by revenue passenger kilometers) identified that travel restrictions for vaccinated travelers are decreasing. Results of the survey show that vaccinated travelers face no quarantine measures or testing requirements in 25 markets representing 38 percent of 2019 international demand. This compares to 18 markets with no quarantine or testing in mid-February representing 28 percent of 2019 international demand.
Further analysis of the IATA survey results shows that 38 markets representing 65 percent of 2019 international demand are open to vaccinated travelers with no quarantine requirements. This is an additional increase of 10 markets from mid-February that represented 50 percent of 2019 international demand.
The relaxation of quarantine measures for vaccinated travelers differs in regions around the world that have markets in the top 50. With 100 percent of the Americas (9 markets), the Middle East (4 markets) and Africa (2 markets) having no quarantine requirements for vaccinated travelers. Europe has quarantine measures in place for vaccinated travelers in only 2 out of the 20 markets in the top 50.
“Asia is the outlier,” according to Mr. Walsh. The region has 16 markets in the top 50 but only 6 without any quarantine requirements as at the time of the survey. The region was down 88 percent of pre-pandemic levels in 2021 compared to North American and European international travel that saw levels down by 42 percent as measured by revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs).
Mr. Walsh did sound a further note of optimism by stating, “Hopefully, recent relaxations including Australia, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Pakistan, and the Philippines are paving the way towards restoring the freedom to travel that is more broadly enjoyed in other parts of the world.”