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Coronavirus: IATA opposes quarantining arrival passengers

Waheed Abbas/Dubai
Filed on May 13, 2020 | Last updated on May 13, 2020 at 06.22 pm
Coronavirus, IATA, opposes, quarantine, arrival passengers, travellers

(Reuters)

Global aviation body suggests keeping symptomatic travellers from flying

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) on Wednesday proposed risk-based layer approach to biosecurity for an efficient and smooth resumption of international travel and opposed governments' decision to quarantine arriving travellers.

Alexandre de Juniac, director-general of Iata, said the UK and Spain announced 14-day quarantine measures on arrival and there were few details of how long it will last and under what conditions.

"International travel cannot re-start under such conditions. In a recent survey, 84 per cent of travellers said that quarantine measures was one of their top concerns, and 69 per cent said that they would not return to travel under such conditions," he said in a virtual press conference.

Currently, most of the countries all over the world ask arriving passengers to go for quarantine at government facilities.

"The risk-based layered approach to biosecurity needs to be coordinated globally. The arriving country must be confident of the procedures in place at the departing airport," he said, adding that in the risk-based layered system, Iata is proposing temperature checks and other measures at departure to keep symptomatic travellers from flying.

"A robust government managed system of health declarations and rigorous contact tracing can manage the risk form asymptomatic travellers. We oppose quarantine measures because the combination of these measures, if well-implemented globally, we can manage the risks," he added.

IATA chief also asked for the flexibility to issue refundable vouchers - or delayed reimbursements - that would enable airlines to preserve some precious cash to survive the crisis and ensure consumers will get their funds.

"If airlines run out of cash, people will lose their jobs, airlines could fail and there would be negative fallout across the travel and tourism value chain. There is no public policy benefit in that. Airlines drive business and link economies. Re-starting economies with an even more hobbled air transport sector is akin to boxing in the fight of a lifetime with one hand tied behind your back," said de Juniac.

Muhammad Albakri, IATA's Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, urged Saudi Arabia to announce financial relief measures for aviation sector in order to save 287,500 jobs $17.9 billion GDP for the kingdom.

Recovery

Brian Pearce, chief economist at IATA, said international air travel recovery will be slower than global economy and 2019 level of air travel is unlikely to be achieved until 2023-24.

He said domestic markets will open first and initial preference will be for short-haul trips by passengers and some of the Covid-19 safety measures will increase inconvenience for travellers which, in turn, will depress international travel.

"Removal of restrictions on international borders is the last thing on the list of governments as we have yet to see stabilisation of Covid-19 spread, especially in key emerging markets. We need to see reduction in Covid-19 risks, reliable tests or discovery of vaccine before governments open border," he said while addressing the virtual press conference on Wednesday.

-waheedabbas@khaleejtimes.com 


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