PARIS – The airline industry’s global lobby group condemned national moves to introduce Covid-19 tests and other measures for passengers arriving from China, as travel from the Asian nation resumes.
The measures represent a knee-jerk reinstatement of steps that have proven ineffective in stemming the pandemic over the past three years, the International Air Transport Association (Iata) said in a statement on Wednesday.
Iata director general Willie Walsh said travel restrictions have been shown to delay the peak of new waves of coronavirus by only a few days, rather than halting them, while at the same time strangling off international connectivity, damaging economies and destroying jobs.
“Governments must base their decisions on science facts rather than science politics,” Mr Walsh said.
The European Union is moving towards an approach to the rampant outbreak in China that may include masks and pre-flight testing requirements on flights from the country. A draft opinion drawn up on Tuesday includes masking recommendations and increased wastewater monitoring, and suggests discussing Covid-19 testing, with a strong majority of countries backing pre-departure tests.
While the unexpectedly rapid reopening of China even as the Omicron variant of Covid-19 continues to rage there could herald a stronger-than-forecast revival of Asian and long-haul flying, border curbs including tests on arrival have been shown to be a major drag on bookings.
Iata, which represents airlines operating 83 per cent of global air traffic, had not anticipated Beijing relaxing its closed-door policy until the second half of 2023, and on that basis predicted that only North American airlines would register significant profits this year, with other regions losing money or eking out only small gains. BLOOMBERG