IATA sees no sign of recovery, as air travel numbers plunge

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that it saw no indication of aviation recovery, as the COVID-19 infection surge has worsened the international air travel demand in February 2021.

According to IATA, international air travel numbers fell by 89% in February 2021 compared to the same month in 2019. The domestic travel demand showed a 51% decline versus pre-pandemic levels in February 2019.

“February showed no indication of a recovery in demand for international air travel,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General, adding that performance in all regions worsened compared to January 2021. 

IATA reported that Asian-Pacific airlines were among the most affected, as the international air travel demand plunged 95.2% in February 2021 compared to February 2019. The region continued to suffer from the steepest traffic declines for an eighth consecutive month.

In a statement, IATA said that European carriers were also among the most affected, as their international air traffic numbers fell by 89% in February 2021 versus the same month in 2019. 

The global aviation body noted that regarding domestic travel numbers, Australian airlines were among the least affected. IATA boss attributed that to “a relaxation of restrictions on domestic flying resulted in significantly more travel”.

As for the efficient restart of international travel, Willie Walsh suggested providing vaccinated individuals with a digital health passport. However, for health passports to work effectively, he believes two key components must be implemented: global standards for digital COVID-19 passport and government agreement to accept certificates digitally.


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