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Monday, June 5, 2023

IATA’s CEO urges Asia-Pacific countries to relax COVID limitations in order to help the region’s recovery

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To speed the region’s recovery from COVID-19, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has asked Asia-Pacific countries to relax border controls even more.

“Asia-Pacific is playing catch-up on restarting travel after COVID-19, but there is growing momentum with governments lifting many travel restrictions,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s director-general.

“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.”

International passenger demand in the Asia-Pacific area increased to 17 percent in March, after hovering around 10% for most of the previous two years.

“This is far below the global trend where markets have recovered to 60 percent 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 asked Asia-Pacific states to keep softening measures in place in order to restore normalcy to air travel by:

  • Removing all restrictions for vaccinated travelers.
  • Removing 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.
  • Lift the mask mandate for air travel when it is no longer required in other indoor environments and public transport.

“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.

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