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.