Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General explains why now is the time to end travel restictions.
The current situation of travel restrictions is a mess. There is one problem—COVID-19. But there seem to be more unique solutions to managing travel and COVID-19 than there are countries to travel to. Indeed, research from the Migration Policy Institute has counted more than 100,000 travel measures around the world that create complexity for passengers, airlines, and governments to manage.
IATA is calling for all travel barriers to be removed for those fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine. And non-vaccinated travelers should enjoy quarantine-free journeys with proof of a negative pre-departure test.
Because travelers, with very few exceptions, present no greater risk than exists in the general population. A study by Oxera and Edge Health demonstrated that because Omicron is highly prevalent in the United Kingdom, if all travel testing requirements were removed the country would not see any impact on Omicron case numbers or hospitalizations.
We need simple, predictable, and practical means of living with the virus that don’t constantly default to de-connecting the world. We must aim at a future where international travel faces no greater restriction than visiting a shop, attending a public gathering, or riding the bus.
This aligns with the advice from public health experts to shift the policy focus from an individual’s health status toward policies focusing on population-wide protection. It is important that governments and the travel industry are well-prepared for the transition and ready to remove the burden of measures that disrupt travel.
As the first quarter of the year is key to bookings for the peak-northern summer travel season, it is important to provide certainty to potential travelers as early as possible.