The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released data showing growing momentum in the resumption of air travel as restrictions are lifted.
Improved ticket sales
IATA reported a sharp increase of 11 percentage points in international tickets sold in recent weeks (as a proportion of 2019 sales).
In the period around February 8 (7-day moving average), the number of tickets sold was 49% of the same period in 2019.
In the period around January 25 (7-day moving average), the number of tickets sold was 38% of the same period in 2019.
The 11 percentage point improvement between the January and February periods is the fastest of its kind over a two-week period since the start of the crisis.
Gradual easing of COVID-19 measures
The jump in ticket sales comes as more governments announce an easing of border restrictions related to COVID-19. An IATA survey of travel restrictions for the world’s top 50 air travel markets (comprising 92% of global demand in 2019, measured in revenue passenger-kilometres) revealed the growing access available to vaccinated travellers.
18 markets (representing approximately 20% of 2019 demand) are open to vaccinated travelers without quarantine or pre-departure testing.
28 markets are open to vaccinated travelers with no quarantine requirement (including the 18 markets mentioned above). This represents approximately 50% of 2019 demand.
37 markets (representing approximately 60% of 2019 demand) are open to vaccinated travelers under varying conditions (18 having no restrictions, others requiring testing or quarantine, or both).
These figures reflect a wave of relaxation announced around the world, notably in Australia, France, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Sweden.
“The momentum towards normalizing traffic is accelerating. Vaccinated travelers have the potential to travel far more with less hassle than a few weeks ago. This is giving a growing number of travelers the confidence to buy tickets And that’s good news! We now need to further accelerate the removal of travel restrictions. While recent progress is impressive, the world remains far from 2019 levels of connectivity. Thirteen of the top 50 travel markets do not offer still not easy access to all vaccinated travellers. This includes major economies like China, Japan, Russia, Indonesia and Italy,” said Willie Walsh, IATA Director General.
IATA continues to call for:
Remove all travel barriers (including quarantine and testing) for people fully immunized with a WHO-approved vaccine,
Allow quarantine-free travel for unvaccinated travelers with a negative antigen test result before departure,
Removal of travel bans, and,
Accelerate the easing of travel restrictions by recognizing that travelers pose no greater risk of spreading COVID-19 than already exists in the general population.
“The travel restrictions have had a serious impact on people and on economies. They did not, however, stop the spread of the virus. And it’s time to pull them back as we learn to live and travel in a world that will pose COVID-19 risks for the foreseeable future. This means ending the singling out of the homeless population for special measures. In almost all cases, travelers no longer bring risk to a market that already exists. Many governments have already recognized this and removed the restrictions. Many more are to follow,” Walsh said.
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