Governments use aviation to ‘convey fear of Omicron’: IATA chief | New

The chief executive of the global airlines association IATA has accused governments of unfairly “hammering” the aviation industry by introducing travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

Speaking at an IATA briefing on December 8, Willie Walsh said the aviation had become a “child witness to convey fear” to governments as they tried to “force people to restrict their movements “by introducing more stringent border control measures such as PCR testing. , quarantine requirements and the “red list” of countries.

“By hammering the airline industry, they think they are sending a message to the whole population to follow their message,” says Walsh.

In response, IATA will “challenge” governments on the basis of “data and science,” he said, noting that “closing your borders once the virus is in your country will do nothing.”

Rather than the threat of Covid-19 from aviation, the risk is “in the community”, according to Walsh, and governments should “assess the risk based on the data and make decisions based on it” rather than to make political choices “a reflex”.

He continues, “We cannot continue to shut down aviation and shut down economies. It does enormous damage to the [airline] industry.”

Regarding the impact of the recently introduced restrictions on travel demand, Walsh says there is not enough data yet but passenger traffic “anecdotally” has been affected. “Restrictions and new tests [requirement] creates a lot of confusion in the market, ”he says.

Nonetheless, Walsh is “optimistic it will be a short-term problem” based on reports regarding the likely severity of an infection with the Omicron variant, adding that he does not think it will impact recovery forecasts. longer term of IATA. But he worries that while governments have introduced restrictions quickly, they have often been “very slow” to remove them.

“Why should we allow our movement to be restricted when there is no reason for these restrictions to be in place?” Walsh asks.

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