Illustration by ARIANA MARALIT

travel covid-01

One of the hardest truths to swallow about Covid19’s effects for true-blue travel fans is that leisure travel will be the very last industry to recover from this pandemic. Countries, after controlling the numbers of infected in their own territories, will understandably refuse to open their borders, fearing a resurgence.

And they’re right. Not only will cash-strapped people prioritize travel spending last, it’s very likely that even if you have the funds, there are so many concerns and challenges to overcome.

The IATA (International Air Transport Association), the biggest air travel group, published on May 14 a new forecast about the potential recovery of air traffic.

And the news isn’t so good—experts and pundits peg “recovery” in 2023, which is later than many have been hoping for.

IATA’s CEO Alexandre de Juniac appeared on ABC Breakfast Newsto announce the group’s findings and recommendations.

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

IATA’s chief says much will depend on world’s governments’ lockdowns and restriction easing, but also, beyond rules and laws, traveler confidence.

The IATA is recommending travel resumption in phases: “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 2020.”

The IATA’s report found that travel confidence is extremely impacted by fears of being quarantined upon arrival—for example,two-week quarantine measures enforced in most destinations in the world. Eighty-six percent are fearful about being quarantined while traveling, and 69 percent are afraid of being locked down in quarantine in destination for 14 days.

Domestic markets, the IATA says, might bounce back within the year, but it’s also urging governments to find alternatives, hoping that they do not make things worse by making “travel impracticable with quarantine measures.

It has suggested a layering of temporary measures until there was a vaccine or instant-result tests, such as temperature screening, preventing travel to symptomatic travelers, health declarations of asymptomatic travelers, and vigorous contact tracing.

“(Quarantine) is a major deterrent,” de Juniac told the show. “We are not sure that it is necessary to impose this type of measure, provided we have implemented a multi-layer approach: various sanitary checks and health controls that would guarantee that the risk of contamination is absolutely minimal and low, and the risk of transferring the virus from one country to another is also under control and minimal.”

The entire airline industry is projecting a revenue loss of $496 billion just this year, and says that the hope lies in domestic travel.

The IATA is hoping that governments around the world will implement “globally agreed biosecurity standards”—the first step to helping the industry recover.

It is government support that has allowed airlines across the world to still exist, and without their help, many would have already been gone in the red.

Without governments’ support, de Juniac believes half of the airlines will be bankrupt by June, and 80 percent will be bankrupt by July.

In the Philippines, the government has implemented “rental holidays” and deferral of rental charges for all airport concessionaires to help cushion the economic impact of Covid-19 in the aviation industry and its stakeholder. It has also deferred for a year the collection of all take-off, landing, and parking fees for both domestic and international flights in CAAP airports, and the collection of aeronautical fees of local air carriers has also been deferred for one year, as well as two months’ rental charges of concessionaires at the airport. The Department of Transportation has also submitted the ACAP (Air Carriers Association of the Philippines) proposals and requests for government support to the House of Representative to be considered in the drafting of the economic stimulus bill.

And other concerns
Greece, Turkey, Chile, and the Italian island of Sardinia are reportedly considering “health passports”—proof that the tourist is virus-free. The governor of Sardinia Christian Solinas tells Arab Newsthat apart from regular passports, tourists should also be producing a health passport alongside any identity document.

Airline tickets will be significantly more expensive—say goodbye to pisofare as Cebu Pacific has planned to keep middle seats free to ensure social distancing in trips, plus there’s the added expense of outfitting flight attendants with PPEs, and in the case of Emirates, rapid testing all travelers before they are allowed on board. In just giving up one seat, travel experts say that capacity will be reduced to about 33 percent, which means airfares will have a minimum increase of 15 percent.

Look at the bright side
The natural easing of travel restrictions will likely follow this pattern: Approval of within-area travel by car; within province travel by car; within GCQ areas domestically; regional air travel; and finally air travel.

As the IATA have forecasted, we would only be confident enough to travel internationally in 2023. So what’s a wanderluster to do for the next two years? Of course, travel within the country. GCQ (general community quarantine) guidelines on travel says domestic travel will be allowed in places that are both declared under GCQ (or the new normal.)

The biggest upside is, you’ll be helping the Philippines get back on its feet. “It would be fair to say that domestic travel alone would help keep us afloat,” says Department of Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo Puyat. “We don’t have the details yet of 2019, but in 2018—and this was when Boracay was still closed—we had more who boosted our tourism. There were 7 million international arrivals, but to be precise, there were 111,350,293 domestic tourists.”



Source: Manila Bulletin (