The Director-General of the International Air Transport Association, Willie Walsh, has urged Asia-Pacific states to lift the mask mandate for air travelers and also ease border measures further to accelerate the region’s recovery from COVID-19.
Speaking on Tuesday at the Changi Aviation Summit 2022, the IATA DG said that “Asia-Pacific is playing catch-up on restarting travel after COVID-19, but there is growing momentum with governments lifting many travel restrictions. The demand for people to travel is clear.
“As soon as measures are relaxed there is an immediate positive reaction from travelers. So it is critical that all stakeholders, including governments, are well-prepared for the restart. We cannot delay. Jobs are at stake and people want to travel.”
The Asia-Pacific region’s international passenger demand for March reached 17 per cent of pre-COVID levels, after having hovered at below 10 per cent for most of the last two years.
“This is far below the global trend where markets have recovered to 60% of pre-crisis levels. The lag is because of government restrictions. The sooner they are lifted, the sooner we will see a recovery in the region’s travel and tourism sector, and all the economic benefits that will bring,” said Walsh.
Walsh urged Asia-Pacific governments to continue easing measures and bring normalcy to air travel by removing all restrictions for vaccinated travelers.
He also implored states to endeavour to remove quarantine and COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated travelers where there are high levels of population immunity, which is the case in most parts of Asia.
“Supporting and more importantly accelerating the recovery will need a whole of industry and government approach. Airlines are bringing back the flights. Airports need to be able to handle the demand. And governments need to be able to process security clearances and other documentation for key personnel efficiently,” said Walsh.
Article first published on the Punch Website