COVID-19 restrictions may be relaxing around Australia, but a leading travel boss has warned that international travel may take another three years to get back to normal.

I’ve already postponed our family holiday to Thailand from April to October this year, but now it looks like our international travel plans will have to wait for a while longer.

Australia’s borders were shut from 19 March to all non-residents and citizens, and anyone entering the country is subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine in a hotel. These kinds of restrictions are hostile to any kind of international travel and there is no indication when these bans will be lifted.

We’ll Have To Wait THREE Years!

Alexandre de Juniac, chief executive of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), spoke to ABC News Breakfast saying that his initial expectations that the international travel industry would recover quickly after lockdown had relaxed, was not going to happen.

He warned that travel outside the country wouldn’t get back to normal until 2023.

“We have published today a new forecast about the potential recovery of the air traffic, and what we see is that things should come back to normal in 2023, which is later than our previous forecast,” Mr de Juniac said.

“That shows, you know, the importance and the severity of this crisis on air transport…. We should join progressively the historical trends by the beginning of 2023.

“What we have planned is to restart the industry, first by reopening domestic markets, then regional continental markets, such as Asia-Pacific, or Europe, or North America.

“At the end of 2020, the traffic should be between 50 to 55 per cent of the same level that was in place in 2019.

“So, we would lose something like half the traffic for the 2020.”

Good News For Interstate Travel

Even though international travel may be off for a while, we should be able to travel interstate much sooner.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said he hoped regional travel will be on the cards just in time for school holidays.

“As the borders fall internally Australians can hopefully soon return to domestic holidays and move around the country more widely, and particularly with school holidays coming up again in July,” Mr Morrison said.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has expressed similar sentiments, saying that she wants residents to be able to travel to Queensland, which opted to class its borders to interstate travel.

“I’m looking forward to those state borders coming down. I often joke with the Queensland Premier that I’ll end up going to Auckland before I go to Brisbane if we continue the way we’re going,” she said.

“If NSW demonstrates its ability in managing the virus and easing restrictions then I think the other states will feel comfortable in taking down their borders.”

Airlines Are In BIG Trouble

Without government support, Mr de Juniac warned that “half of the (world) airlines could be bankrupt in June, and 80 per cent could be bankrupt in July.”

Mr de Juniac continued to say that the 14-day quarantine period imposed on foreign holidaymakers had been a deterrent for many holidaymakers. International travel cannot re-start with these mandatory quarantine periods still in place.

With the majority of travel insurance not covering COVID-19, most travellers would not risk travelling to a country if there was any virus threat.

No Clear Roadmap To Open International Travel

Professor Brendan Murphy, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, has reiterated Mr de Juniac’s sentiments saying that there is ‘no clear roadmap’ to reopen the country’s borders to international travel.

The government’s latest three-step process of relaxing COVID-19 restrictions included interstate travel and the possible consideration of cross-Tasman travel in step three. However, there was absolutely no mention of international travel possibilities.

Prof Murphy emphasised that border closures remained essential to defeating the pandemic.

“I have no vision at the moment on the current international scene where international border measures of some very strong vigour won’t be necessary,” he said. “There is no clear roadmap out of this.”

Professor Murphy foresees that interstate travel would be allowed long before overseas travel is opened.

Qantas Won’t Be Back For A While

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said that the airline will remain grounded for another two months, but is on stand-by to return at short notice if conditions improve.

“Australia has done an amazing job of flattening the curve and we’re optimistic that domestic travel will start returning earlier than first thought,” he said.

But Mr Joyce has warned “we clearly won’t be back to pre-coronavirus levels anytime soon.”

When are you planning for international travel again? Tell us in the comments below.

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  • I havent been overseas since covid began and have no plans to at the moment as the airfares are still out of control


  • As much as I long for overseas travel again I will wait


  • I was hoping to travel overseas again, but happy to wait. Happy to travel around our beautiful country, we have so much to see, I just wish the states would stop slamming the borders shut so quickly.


  • My brother postponed his July wedding in the uk, and we had to cancel our travel plans. He has rebooked for July 2021, but I still don’t think we will be able to travel. We are half his wedding party ????


  • Covid19 is really spreading overseas so it will be a while until we can travel safely.


  • Id just be happy to be able to leave VIC to see my family. I haven’t seen them for nearly a year and this whole pandemic has felt so isolating


  • Not any time soon too risky


  • I love travel and I am just as keen as anyone for life to return to normal but maybe an international ban on travel for the time being will encourage more of us to travel within Australia and help our own struggling businesses to recover from some of our recent losses


  • This makes me so sad we always travel internationally every year and were hoping to go again in July like we normally do but obviously can’t. I hope if we do get to holiday in Australia that the prices reduce because they are way to expensive for our own back yard and why we choose to go overseas instead.


  • Hopefully we will see an end to this virus before 2023 .My parents are abroad and still haven’t seen my 1 year old..they are going to miss all their little years if theres no travel.


  • I’m personally ok with no overseas travel. I think the travel industry has changed forever though which is sad for those who are yet to see the world.


  • I want to see our own country first with my kids. Overseas travel can wait.


  • We’ve had a few international trips in the past couple of years so we’re not expecting to travel again any time soon.


  • I know its to keep us safe but I do love to travel.


  • It’s all still speculation I’m hoping for an overseas holiday mid next year. I love how they say about interstate- Australia is so expensive you could go overseas for the same amount anyway!


  • This is hard as hubby’s family live in NZ, so every second year we got there for Christmas. This is also going to be especially hard for those who are living in different countries to their families.
    Understandable this is disappointing but at the end of the day we need to do whatever to keep us safe.
    I’m just glad we were able to go our European adventure last year.
    I hope things improve soon but we still need to take caution with travel once things start up again as we DON’T want a relapse.


  • All of our family are overseas so this makes me sad that we won’t be able to visit for a while yet, but, better safe than sorry, I’d hate for them or us to get sick through opening the International boundaries too soon …..


  • Whatever keeps us safe


  • I travelled international last January.No planning near future.


  • My husband and I travelled extensively throughout Australia and the world from 1992 till 2005 and then visited New Zealand a few more times and did interstate trips to Tassie, Qld and NSW until 2015. Since then illness has kept us at home and now my husband is on dialysis it is extremely hard to organise visits anywhere, so we had no plans to travel in the future and hadn’t travelled prior to Covid-19 either.

    • It’s lovely you got to travel the world extensively when it was still possible for you and your husband !


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