Re-establishing global air connectivity is essential to kick-start the global economy, which is currently under lockdown because of the impact of Covid-19.
The aviation industry connects the world in a unique way, adding immense value to the global economy. Aviation supports $2.7tn in world economic activity (3.6% of global gross domestic product), and accounts for nearly 10% of global employment tied to travel and tourism.
The world’s airlines carry over 4bn passengers a year and nearly 62mn tonnes of freight. Providing these services creates 10.2mn direct jobs and contributes $704.4bn to global GDP.
|"Testing all passengers will give people back their freedom to travel with confidence"
The global air transport industry is larger than both the automobile manufacturing sector and the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry by GDP. In fact, if air transport were a country, its GDP would rank 20th in the world, similar to that of Switzerland or Argentina.
International travel is 92% down on 2019 levels. Over half a year has passed since global connectivity was destroyed as countries closed their borders to fight Covid-19.
The economic cost of the breakdown in global connectivity makes investing in a border-opening testing solution a priority for governments. The human suffering and global economic pain of the crisis will be prolonged if the aviation industry—on which at least 65.5mn jobs depend directly and indirectly—collapses before the pandemic ends.
And the amount of government support needed to avert such a collapse is rising, points out the global body of airlines- IATA. Already lost revenues are expected to exceed $400bn and the industry was set to post a record net loss of over $80bn in 2020 under a more optimistic rebound scenario than has actually unfolded.
Some governments have cautiously re-opened borders since then, but there has been limited uptake because either quarantine measures make travel impractical or the frequent changes in Covid-19 measures make planning impossible.
To restore air connectivity, IATA has called for the development and deployment of rapid, accurate, affordable, easy-to-operate, scalable and systematic Covid-19 testing for all passengers before departure as an alternative to quarantine measures.
“The key to restoring the freedom of mobility across borders is systematic Covid-19 testing of all travellers before departure. This will give governments the confidence to open their borders without complicated risk models that see constant changes in the rules imposed on travel. Testing all passengers will give people back their freedom to travel with confidence. And that will put millions of people back to work,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
Some 83% of travellers in a recent 11-market survey conducted by IATA said they will not travel if there is a chance of being quarantined at their destination. That seems to be a very clear signal that the industry will not recover until an alternative can be found to quarantine.
Many experts believe a viable alternative to quarantine is systematic 100% testing of all travellers before departure. And the same public opinion poll reveals that this is what most of the passengers prefer.