Walsh: ‘Govt’s Covid policy flip-flops scuppered aviation recovery’

posted on 8th July 2022 by Olivia Pilling
Walsh: 'Govt's Covid policy flip-flops scuppered aviation recovery'

Willie Walsh has said the government’s “knee-jerk Covid-19 policy flip-flops” did little to enable a smooth ramping-up of activity across the aviation sector.

The Iata director general’s comments come after the association reported passenger data for May 2022 showed the recovery in air travel accelerated heading into the Northern Hemisphere summer season as some delays in major European airports continued.

“The travel recovery continues to gather momentum,” Walsh said. “People need to travel. And when governments remove Covid-19 restrictions, they do.

“Many major international route areas – including within Europe, and the Middle East-North America routes – are already exceeding pre-Covid-19 levels. Completely removing all Covid-19 restrictions is the way forward, with Australia being the latest to do so this week.”

Walsh said the “major exception” to the optimism of this rebound in travel is China, which saw a 73.2% fall in domestic travel compared to the previous year. He criticised the country’s zero-Covid policy for being “out-of-step” with the rest of the world.

“The recovery in travel markets is no less than impressive,” he continued. “As we accelerate towards the peak summer season in the Northern Hemisphere, strains in the system are appearing in some European and North American hubs.

“Nobody wants to see passengers suffering from delays or cancellations, but passengers can be confident that solutions are being urgently implemented. Airlines, airports and governments are working together.”

However, Walsh urged governments to improve their understanding of how aviation operates and work more closely with airports and airlines in the longer term.

“Having created so much uncertainty with knee-jerk Covid-19 policy flip-flops and avoiding most opportunities to work in unison based on global standards, their actions did little to enable a smooth ramping-up of activity,” he added.

“And it is unacceptable that the industry is now facing a potential punitive regulatory deluge as several governments fill their post-Covid-19 regulatory calendars. Aviation has delivered its best when governments and industry work together to agree and implement global standards.”

Source: TTG Media

Featured photo: Willie Walsh speaking at Iata’s AGM in Boston, Massachusetts, on Monday. Photograph source: Brian Snyder/Reuters.