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IATA calls for reopening of borders with testing, without quarantine

KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 25): The International Air Transport Association (IATA) at its 76th Annual General Meeting (AGM) unanimously resolved to urgently call on governments to re-open borders to travel.

In a statement today, IATA said it is proposing systematic testing of international travellers which would permit the lifting of border restrictions and provide an alternative to current quarantine rules.

It said quarantines essentially kill demand for air travel and governments need to immediately consider the resulting drastic socio-economic effect.

"International air travel continues to be down 90 per cent on 2019 levels. Current estimates are that as many as 46 million jobs supported by air travel could be lost and that the economic activity sustained by aviation will be reduced by US$1.8 trillion," it said.

The trade association for the world’s airlines said the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Take-off measures make flying safe but border closures, movement restrictions and quarantine measures make travel impossible for most.

"We must manage how we live with the virus. But that does not have to mean destroying aviation, risking millions of jobs, crippling economies and tearing apart the international social fabric.

“We could safely open borders today with systematic COVID-19 testing,” said IATA’s director general and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac.

 In its resolution, the AGM also reaffirmed the industry’s continuing commitment to implementing globally agreed biosafety protocols.

It also encouraged governments to implement guidance developed by ICAO and asked governments to ensure that aviation staff and international travellers are prioritised for COVID-19 vaccination once safe and effective treatments become available and health care workers and vulnerable groups have been protected.

"The AGM also reinforced the vital role of air transport in facilitating the global response to the pandemic, including the timely distribution of medicines, testing kits, protective equipment and eventually vaccines around the world," said IATA.

Meanwhile, in a separate statement, IATA said the AGM also unanimously approved a resolution re-confirming the airlines’ unwavering commitment to safely and sustainably re-connect the planet.

It said the resolution called on governments to ensure the industry’s viability with continued financial and regulatory support, aid the industry in reaching its 2050 goal of cutting emissions to half of 2005 levels while exploring pathways to net zero carbon emissions through economic stimulus investments in commercialising Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

IATA further called on governments to work with airlines to ensure safety standards and critical skills are maintained both during the crisis and in the subsequent re-start and scale-up of operations.

“COVID-19 has devastated the balance sheets of our member airlines and we need continuing government support to enable the aviation industry to restart and rebuild connectivity. Without the economic benefits that aviation delivers, the global economic recovery will be much weaker and slower,” said de Juniac.

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