Opinion and Editorial

KT edit: Covid vaccine key to jump-starting aviation industry

Filed on May 25, 2021 | Last updated on May 25, 2021 at 12.35 am

Interestingly, some countries have already started taking initiatives on these lines. For instance, Germany requires no Covid-19 tests and quarantine upon arrival.

The global aviation sector is slowly, and steadily, taking off as the vaccine rollout is boosting confidence among the governments, airports, airlines – and most importantly the travellers. The UAE’s aviation industry is no exception, led by the world’s largest international carrier Emirates and one of biggest airports Dubai International (DXB). This message was also loud and clear during the panel discussions held during Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2021 with industry executive emphasising that vaccinated travellers need to be given some privileges such as dropping quarantine and Covid-19 PCR tests upon arrival at the destination country.

Interestingly, some countries have already started taking initiatives on these lines. For instance, Germany requires no Covid-19 tests and quarantine upon arrival. “This step is in the right direction,” said William Walsh, director-general of the International Air Transport Association (Iata) at ATM 2021 on Monday. “There is a clear evidence that vaccination has a strong role in reducing infection. There is a clear evidence that those who’re vaccinated even if they get infected, the impact is significantly less. People want to see these restrictions being relaxed and live the way we used to live in the past,” said Iata chief at the conference.

Importantly, the UAE has now officially become the world’s most vaccinated country, administering 12.16 million vaccine doses, taking the rate of doses to 123.01 per 100 people. Thus, the UAE’s airlines and economy will fully benefit from this massive inoculation campaign sooner rather than later, improving confidence among foreign travellers coming to the UAE, especially at a time when Expo 2020 Dubai – the biggest event of the year – is just a few months away. In fact, the benefits of vaccine are already trickling down as the recent strong numbers announced by the Dubai International (DXB) airport reflect growing trust in local airlines and airports of globe trotters have against the pandemic. DXB’s latest first-quarter figures announced earlier this month have set the trend, announcing 5.75 million passengers in Q1 2021 with the two million mark breached in the month of March. In addition, a number of airlines such as Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific and Pakistan’s Serene Air have also started operating flights to Dubai.

The UAE has approved a number of Covid-19 vaccines such Sinopharm, Pfizer-BioNTech, Sputnik V and AstraZeneca. “Given the acceleration of vaccines, I don’t’ think anyone anticipated the number of vaccines that are going to be approved. It is very different environment now than it was 12 months ago. All of the restrictions that were implemented 12 months are irrelevant today. It is untenable today. Things have changed and people want to get back to living their lives. And travelling is fundamental part of our lives,” said Iata director-general Walsh. The UAE is game for it.

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