Friday, September 17, 2021

When will international air travel skyrocket again after COVID-19?

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“Every country wants to do its own thing and they really have to get over that and get on the same page,” said Marion Joppe, a professor at the University of Guelph’s School of Hospitality, Food and Tourism Management. The European Union developed a digital certificate for residents across the 27-country bloc, but it has restrictions in place for non-essential travel from many third countries due to COVID-19 concerns.

The varying border-crossing and travel restrictions imposed by nations around the world in the wake of COVID-19 have left airlines and passengers alike coping with the resulting uncertainty. In July 2021, international travel demand was down nearly three-quarters from what it was in 2019 — though the IATA says the traffic is improving across the globe.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has reported that the world saw a 60 per cent dip in the number of passengers who flew in 2020 as compared to 2019. A sign on display at Regina International Airport in May of 2021 reminds people arriving from outside of the country about the rules that were in place at the time amid COVID-19 concerns. (Mark Taylor/The Canadian Press)

A long way from 2019  And while more people are flying abroad today than in the early days of the pandemic, passenger levels are still far below pre-pandemic levels.

At Air Canada, there is optimism now that new travel rules allow international visitors — at least those who are fully vaccinated — to enter the country for non-essential travel. The change took effect Sept. 7. In Canada, there is hope among airlines their industry will see clearer skies ahead, though the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic makes it tough to forecast exactly when.

Peter Fitzpatrick, an Air Canada spokesperson, says the airline has seen steep revenue declines during the pandemic on the international side of its business. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press) Fitzpatrick said the airline has seen steep revenue declines during the pandemic on the international side of its business — with its international passenger revenue less than one-tenth of what it was just two years ago as of the second quarter of 2021.  “We look forward to welcoming customers from around the world back on board,” Peter Fitzpatrick, a spokesperson for the airline, told CBC News via email.

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