Regional aviation industry wants flight restrictions lifted

A Caribbean Airlines plane takes off.
A Caribbean Airlines plane takes off.

Airlines, airports and suppliers rejected on Monday the flight restrictions to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean put in place because of to the new strain of covid19.

In a press release, the International Council of Airports of Latin America and the Caribbean (ACI-LAC), the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA), the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Organization of Civil Service Providers of Air Navigation (CANSO), said the measures "threaten the economic recovery" of the sector.

The associations highlighted the re-imposition of quarantines and test requirements, as well as new bans on flights to certain destinations.

"All of this represents a setback in the recovery efforts of numerous economic sectors, such as travel and tourism, among others," said the statement.

The groups were concerned and called on governments to work in an articulated manner to “take measures that are balanced and standardised, based on the evaluation of risks and opportunity costs for the population, which is directly violated by the restrictions that affect a million jobs in our countries.”

Rafael Echevarne, general director of ACI-LAC ,emphasised the joint effort to regain the confidence of passengers and provide a safe travel experience.

He said: “With the arrival of the summer months...we expected a more accelerated recovery; however, the imposition of new measures and restrictions will reduce incentives to travel.”

The associations reported that between January and November 2020, airlines operating in the region transported only 40 per cent of the total passengers transported in that period of 2019.

Peter Cerdá, IATA regional vice president for the Americas, said: “We cannot go back to acting as at the beginning of the pandemic, closing borders or applying quarantines, when even the World Health Organization itself has indicated that the virus is not controlled in this way."

According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in 2020 the global tourism industry regressed 30 years, with a billion fewer traveller arrivals and losses of approximately US$1.1 trillion in revenue from international tourism.

The Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has reported that around six million jobs in the travel and tourism industry and more than US$110 billion of contributions to GDP are at risk in Latin America and the Caribbean alone.

Cerdá also emphasised the application of protocols that guarantee travel safety and how to manage living with the virus without putting millions of jobs at risk and without paralysing economies that depend on aviation.

He also addressed a key issue: "Countries will need commercial aviation and its fast and secure connectivity options more than ever to guarantee vaccine logistics in all corners of the region."

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"Regional aviation industry wants flight restrictions lifted"

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