Air travel won't return to normal until at least 2023 says industry chief

·News Reporter
·3-min read

International travel is unlikely to return to normal before at least 2023, an industry leader has warned.

Chief executive of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Alexendre de Juniac has warned only 50 per cent of air travel will return by the end of the year.

The prediction comes as part of a new forecast by the IATA that analyses a number of potential scenarios in the industry’s recovery.

“What we see is that things should come back to normal in 2023, which is later than our previous forecast,” Mr de Juniac told ABC Breakfast on Thursday.

“That shows the importance and the severity of this crisis on air transport.”

Passengers at an airport during the coronavirus crisis. Source: Getty
Air travel is unlikely to return to normal before 2023, the IATA has warned. Source: Getty

The forecast predicts long-haul travel will be even worse hit, with 2024 predicted to return international travel to normal.

“The impacts of the crisis on long-haul travel will be much more severe and of a longer duration than what is expected in domestic markets,” Mr de Juniac said.

“Rebuilding passenger confidence will take longer. And even then, individual and corporate travellers are likely to carefully manage travel spend and stay closer to home.

“This makes globally agreed and implemented biosecurity standards for the travel process all the more critical.

He said the industry alongside governments “must act fast” to avoid a similar aftermath to 9/11.

The IATA has urged governments to reconsider the need for quarantine periods on arrival in other countries, which widely see travellers undergoing a mandatory 14-day period of self-isolation.

The IATA says travellers' confidence must be improved to save the industry. Source: Getty
The IATA says travellers' confidence must be improved to save the industry. Source: Getty

A recent survey from the IATA found 69 per cent of travellers would not fly abroad if they were forced to quarantine for two weeks.

“To protect aviation’s ability to be a catalyst for the economic recovery, we must not make that prognosis worse by making travel impracticable with quarantine measures,” Mr de Juniac said.

‘No clear road out’ for Australia

On Wednesday, fronting a Senate committee, Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said he could not say when international travel would be back on the cards for Australians.

When asked if he thought the travel ban would be lifted this year or next year, Prof Murphy was hesitant to respond, saying "there is no clear road map out of this".

"I have no vision at the moment on the current international scene where international border measures of some very strong rigour won't be necessary," he said.

Earlier this month, Professor Collignon, an infectious diseases physician from the Australian National University Medical School, said he believes we may see limited international travel by October this year, but it’s unlikely there will be unrestricted international travel until about October 2021.

“I think international travel other than really critical business reasons or family reasons is not going to be happening in a big way any time soon,” he said.

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