Air travel momentum up as countries lift Covid restrictions: IATA

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IATA says 13 of the top 50 travel markets still do not provide easy access to all vaccinated travelers.
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  • There was an 11-percentage-point increase for international tickets sold in recent weeks.
  • The 11-percentage point improvement between the January and February periods is the fastest such increase for any two-week period since the crisis began.

Air travel recovery was gaining momentum as countries were lifting restrictions, with a sharp 11-percentage-point increase for international tickets sold in recent weeks, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Data released by IATA said that in the period around 8 February (seven-day moving average) the number of tickets sold stood at 49 percent of the same period in 2019.

In the period around 25th January (seven-day moving average) the number of tickets sold stood at 38 percent of the same period in 2019.

The 11-percentage point improvement between the January and February periods is the fastest such increase for any two-week period since the crisis began.

The jump in ticket sales comes as more governments announce a relaxation of COVID-19 border restrictions. An IATA survey of travel restrictions for the world’s top 50 air travel markets (comprising 92 percent of global demand in 2019 as measured by revenue passenger kilometers) revealed the growing access available to vaccinated travelers.

Around 18 markets (comprising about 20 percent of 2019 demand) are open to vaccinated travelers without quarantine or pre-departure testing requirements, while 28 markets are open to vaccinated travelers without quarantine requirements (including the 18 markets noted above). This comprises about 50 percent of 2019 demand.

A total of 37 markets (comprising about 60 percent of 2019 demand) are open to vaccinated travelers under varying conditions (18 having no restrictions, others requiring testing or quarantine or both).

These numbers reflect a spate of relaxations announced around the world, including in Australia, France, the Philippines, the UK, Switzerland, and Sweden among them.

“Momentum toward normalizing traffic is growing. Vaccinated travelers have the potential to travel much more extensively with fewer hassles than even a few weeks ago. This is giving growing numbers of travelers the confidence to buy tickets. And that is good news! Now we need to further accelerate the removal of travel restrictions.” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

“While recent progress is impressive, the world remains far from 2019 levels of connectivity. Thirteen of the top 50 travel markets still do not provide easy access to all vaccinated travelers. That includes major economies like China, Japan, Russia, Indonesia, and Italy,” said Walsh.

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