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Covid restrictions drag down global air travel demand by 63% – IATA

An International Air Transport Association (IATA) report has revealed a significant decline in air travel due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions. It shows a 63% drop in May 2021 compared to the same period in 2019.

The IATA stated, however, that the situation in May looked a bit more cheerful than in April this year – by some 2.5%.

The airline industry body said that international travel has been much more affected by ongoing mobility restrictions than domestic travel. International passenger demand in May was 85.1% below May 2019, while total domestic demand was only 23.9% below the pre-pandemic level.




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We are starting to see positive developments, with some international markets opening to vaccinated travelers,” IATA Director General Willie Walsh said at a briefing on Wednesday.

According to the IATA, Chinese and Russian air traffic continues to show positive growth compared to pre-crisis levels, while India and Japan are doing much worse than in 2019 due to recent outbreaks.

Walsh suggested that countries should coordinate better in order to help the airline industry recover, especially with regard to Covid-19 testing.

We’re seeing a wide variation in the requirements for things like testing… Clearly this is causing great confusion in the minds of consumers,” Walsh stated, adding that “too many governments continue to act as if the only tool in their anti-Covid-19 arsenal is a blanket border closure or an arrival quarantine.




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He cited research results from global medical organizations suggesting that vaccinated travelers pose little risk to local populations, while pre-departure testing greatly lowers the chances of unvaccinated travelers importing Covid-19.

It is long past time for governments to start responding to this information with more nuanced data-driven, risk-based strategies. These will minimize the chance of importing Covid-19 while allowing the world to reopen to travel and all the opportunities it brings,” Walsh concluded.




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Meanwhile, the IATA data also states that global air cargo markets showed remarkable growth, rising 9.4% compared to May 2019, with seasonally adjusted demand increasing by 0.4% month-on-month in May, the 13th consecutive month of growth in that sphere.

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