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    IATA data reveals slowdown in aviation recovery

    Figures from the International Air Transport Association have confirmed that passenger demand in September remained highly depressed.
    Total demand (measured in revenue passenger kilometres or RPKs) was 73 per cent below September 2019 levels.
    This is only a slightly improvement over the 75 per cent year-to-year decline recorded in August.
    Capacity was down 63 per cent compared to a year ago and load factor fell 22 percentage points to 60 per cent.
    International passenger demand in September plunged 89 per cent compared to September 2019, basically unchanged from the 88.5 per cent decline recorded in August.
    Capacity plummeted 79 per cent, and load factor withered 38 percentage points to 43 per cent.

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    Domestic demand in September was down 43 per cent compared to the previous year, improved from a 51 per cent decline in August.
    Compared to 2019, capacity fell by a third and the load factor dropped 12 percentage points to 70 per cent.
    “We have hit a wall in the industry’s recovery.
    “A resurgence in Covid-19 outbreaks – particularly in Europe and the US – combined with governments’ reliance on the blunt instrument of quarantine in the absence of globally aligned testing regimes, has halted momentum toward re-opening borders to travel.
    “Although domestic markets are doing better, this is primarily owing to improvements in China and Russia.
    “And domestic traffic represents just a bit more than a third of total traffic, so it is not enough to sustain a general recovery,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA director general.
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    IATA joins with ACI for latest aviation appeal

    Airports Council International (ACI) World and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have reinforced an urgent call for governments to use testing as a means to safely re-open borders and re-establish global connectivity.
    The organisations argue the move it necessary to prevent the systemic collapse of the aviation industry.
    There have also been calls for further non-debt generating financial support for the sector.
    The dual measures would protect countries from the importation of Covid-19 cases, avert an employment crisis in the travel and tourism sector, and ensure that the critical aviation structure remains viable and able to support the economic and social benefits on which the world relies.
    Alexandre de Juniac, IATA director general, said: “We need action quickly. Large parts of the global air network have been severely ruptured for well over a half year.

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    “Job losses—inside and outside the industry – mount with each day that borders are closed.
    “And with each job lost the recovery and impact on the broader economy becomes even more difficult.
    “Momentum is building in support of testing to re-open borders.
    “It is the top operational priority. And to make sure that we have a viable aviation sector at the end of this crisis a second round of financial relief is unavoidable.”
    The Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) estimates that 46 million jobs are at risk because of the loss of connectivity caused by the Covid-19 crisis.
    The vast majority of these (41.2 million jobs) are in the travel and tourism sector which relies on aviation.
    The remainder (4.8 million jobs) are spread across direct employment in aviation, including airports and airlines.
    The viability of the airline sector to support employment is being challenged by the severe and prolonged fall in business:
    ACI estimates the airport industry will suffer a 60 per cent reduction in revenues, reaching an unprecedented loss of $104 billion.
    IATA estimates that airline revenues will be down at least 50 per cent, falling to $419 billion compared to $838 billion in 2019.
    Safely re-opening borders without quarantine by using a coordinated approach to testing would boost the entire economy and be a revenue lifeline for airlines and airports.
    ACI and IATA have called on the ICAO Council Aviation Recovery Task Force to provide an internationally agreed and recognised approach to testing that can be adopted at a national level.
    “The Covid-19 pandemic remains an existential crisis and airports, airlines and their commercial partners need direct and swift financial assistance to protect essential operations and jobs,” ACI World director general, Luis Felipe de Oliveira, said.
    “But such assistance is only one piece of the puzzle as the industry restarts and prepares to sustain continuing operations focused on the health and welfare of travellers, staff, and the public.
    “ACI and IATA are aligned in calling for urgent government action to introduce widespread and coordinated testing of passengers to enable quarantine requirements to be removed.
    “Without this action, it is not an exaggeration that the industry is facing collapse.”
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    IATA seeks to reassure passengers over onboard Covid-19 transmission risks

    The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has sought to demonstrate the low incidence of in-flight Covid-19 transmission with an updated tally of published cases.
    Since the start of 2020 there have been 44 cases of Covid-19 reported in which transmission is thought to have been associated with a flight journey (inclusive of confirmed, probable and potential cases).
    Over the same period some 1.2 billion passengers have travelled.
    “The risk of a passenger contracting Covid-19 while onboard appears very low.

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    “With only 44 identified potential cases of flight-related transmission among 1.2 billion travellers, that’s one case for every 27 million travellers.
    “We recognise that this may be an underestimate but even if 90 per cent of the cases were un-reported, it would be one case for every 2.7 million travellers.
    “We think these figures are extremely reassuring. 
    “Furthermore, the vast majority of published cases occurred before the wearing of face coverings inflight became widespread,” said David Powell, IATA medical advisor.
    New insight into why the numbers are so low has come from the joint publication by Airbus, Boeing and Embraer of separate computational fluid dynamics research conducted by each manufacturer in their aircraft.
    While methodologies differed slightly, each detailed simulation confirmed that aircraft airflow systems do control the movement of particles in the cabin, limiting the spread of viruses. Data from the simulations yielded similar results:
    Aircraft airflow systems, High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, the natural barrier of the seatback, the downward flow of air, and high rates of air exchange efficiently reduce the risk of disease transmission on board in normal times.
    The addition of mask-wearing amid pandemic concerns adds a further and significant extra layer of protection, which makes being seated in close proximity in an aircraft cabin safer than most other indoor environments.
    IATA’s data collection, and the results of the separate simulations, align with the low numbers reported in a recently published peer-reviewed study by Freedman and Wilder-Smith in the Journal of Travel Medicine.
    Although there is no way to establish an exact tally of possible flight-associated cases, IATA’s outreach to airlines and public health authorities combined with a thorough review of available literature has not yielded any indication that onboard transmission is in any way common or widespread.
    Further, the Freedman/Wilder-Smith study points to the efficacy of mask-wearing in further reducing risk.
    “ICAO’s comprehensive guidance for safe air travel amid the Covid-19 crisis relies on multiple layers of protection, which involve the airports as well as the aircraft.
    “Mask-wearing is one of the most visible.
    “But managed queuing, contactless processing, reduced movement in the cabin, and simplified onboard services are among the multiple measures the aviation industry is taking to keep flying safe.
    “And this is on top of the fact that airflow systems are designed to avoid the spread of disease with high air flow rates and air exchange rates, and highly effective filtration of any recycled air,” concluded Powell.
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    IATA seeks to reassure passengers over on-board Covid-19 transmission risks

    The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has sought to demonstrate the low incidence of in-flight Covid-19 transmission with an updated tally of published cases.
    Since the start of 2020 there have been 44 cases of Covid-19 reported in which transmission is thought to have been associated with a flight journey (inclusive of confirmed, probable and potential cases).
    Over the same period some 1.2 billion passengers have travelled.
    “The risk of a passenger contracting Covid-19 while onboard appears very low.

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    “With only 44 identified potential cases of flight-related transmission among 1.2 billion travellers, that’s one case for every 27 million travellers.
    “We recognise that this may be an underestimate but even if 90 per cent of the cases were un-reported, it would be one case for every 2.7 million travellers.
    “We think these figures are extremely reassuring. 
    “Furthermore, the vast majority of published cases occurred before the wearing of face coverings inflight became widespread,” said David Powell, IATA medical advisor.
    New insight into why the numbers are so low has come from the joint publication by Airbus, Boeing and Embraer of separate computational fluid dynamics research conducted by each manufacturer in their aircraft.
    While methodologies differed slightly, each detailed simulation confirmed that aircraft airflow systems do control the movement of particles in the cabin, limiting the spread of viruses. Data from the simulations yielded similar results:
    Aircraft airflow systems, High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, the natural barrier of the seatback, the downward flow of air, and high rates of air exchange efficiently reduce the risk of disease transmission on board in normal times.
    The addition of mask-wearing amid pandemic concerns adds a further and significant extra layer of protection, which makes being seated in close proximity in an aircraft cabin safer than most other indoor environments.
    IATA’s data collection, and the results of the separate simulations, align with the low numbers reported in a recently published peer-reviewed study by Freedman and Wilder-Smith in the Journal of Travel Medicine.
    Although there is no way to establish an exact tally of possible flight-associated cases, IATA’s outreach to airlines and public health authorities combined with a thorough review of available literature has not yielded any indication that onboard transmission is in any way common or widespread.
    Further, the Freedman/Wilder-Smith study points to the efficacy of mask-wearing in further reducing risk.
    “ICAO’s comprehensive guidance for safe air travel amid the Covid-19 crisis relies on multiple layers of protection, which involve the airports as well as the aircraft.
    “Mask-wearing is one of the most visible.
    “But managed queuing, contactless processing, reduced movement in the cabin, and simplified onboard services are among the multiple measures the aviation industry is taking to keep flying safe.
    “And this is on top of the fact that airflow systems are designed to avoid the spread of disease with high air flow rates and air exchange rates, and highly effective filtration of any recycled air,” concluded Powell.
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    Travel sector urges quick action from new taskforce

    The UK travel sector has given a muted welcome to the launch of a travel taskforce from the UK government, urging quick action to reopen borders to international visitors.
    Announced earlier, the new body will examine possible changes to current quarantine requirements, as well as the practicalities of introducing testing on arrival to reduce isolation periods.
    Following the news, ABTA chief executive, Mark Tanzer, said: “The creation of the global travel taskforce shows a recognition from government of the need to get people travelling again to support the travel industry, which has been hit hard by the Covid-19 crisis.
    “The taskforce needs to focus on decisive and urgent action, not only on rapidly introducing a testing regime, but also on moving to a regionalised quarantine approach and lifting the global advisory against travel – returning to providing travel advice for individual countries based on the risk to a traveller in destination.
    “Other countries have already moved to introduce testing, and further delays will only serve to exacerbate the industry’s struggles – especially as the winter season is fast approaching.
    “With furlough ending this month, and the new job support scheme doing little to support travel businesses, without tailored support we’ll see more job losses and businesses folding.”
    The Board of Airline Representatives in the UK struck a similar tone, welcoming the commitment towards delivering a testing regime, but warning airlines remain frustrated with the timescale for delivery.
    Dale Keller, chief executive of BAR UK, said: “This far into the crisis airlines expected more detail than an announcement of a new taskforce.
    “The industry has been continuously engaged with the government, including in the expert steering group formed back in May.
    “A huge amount of international experience and proposals have been input so far, including the benefits of pre-departure testing, and we believe that a scheme could be implemented very quickly in a matter of weeks.”

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    He added: “We are concerned that the secretary of state for transport is still quoting only seven per cent effectiveness of testing on arrival at airports, a figure that is wholly dismissed as flawed assumptions by the industry from overseas trials.
    “If the government wants more data it should urgently take up the industry’s proposals for a trial-based data-led approach to inform the taskforce and achieve the best outcomes.”
    A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said the announcement represents “much needed progress,” but warned every day counts when the economy and half a million jobs that rely on aviation are at stake.
    A statement added: “We support the government’s decision to opt for a single-test, private sector-led, passenger-funded approach that does not compete for, nor divert, vital NHS testing resources, to reduce travel restrictions while protecting public health.
    “But a firm commitment that a comprehensive testing regime will be implemented in November is required to boost consumer confidence, enable global travel and protect jobs.
    “A test on five days, which the government’s own evidence suggests would be ‘highly effective’, must be the starting point.
    “Trials between Heathrow and New York should take place in parallel to generate real world data for a pre-departure and on arrival testing approach, as well as regional mainland travel corridors, so that policy can quickly evolve.
    “Removing quarantine is the only way to truly open up the skies and enable the UK’s economic recovery to take-off.”
    Joss Croft, chief executive of UKinbound, reminded the government of what was a stake, saying the £28 billion contribution overseas travel made to the UK economy last year was at stake.
    He continued: “Introducing testing on arrival would be a significant step in the right direction and show that the UK is open for businesses.
    “We are waiting to see the detail, but this move would help to boost consumer confidence to travel again to the UK.
    “Demand and visitor numbers won’t bounce back overnight, and many UK tourism businesses are still facing a very bleak winter or worse – which is why the government needs to provide targeted support for viable inbound tourism businesses, to ensure they can survive until demand returns later in 2021, as they will significantly support the recovery of international travel.”
    Finally, a statement from Chris Galanty, global chief executive of the business travel divisions at Flight Centre urged for quick action.
    “We understand that the UK government has a hard balance to strike between the health of the nation and the success of the economy, so we’re happy to hear that a dedicated global travel taskforce has been created to alleviate the issues facing the business and leisure travel sectors.
    “We implore the taskforce to work quickly and efficiently with partners from the aviation, travel, healthcare and testing sectors to resolve the current 14-day quarantine period which is affecting business travel companies up and down the country.
    “We believe safe travel is the most important way forward and would like to see movement on airport testing, quarantine exemptions for business travellers and transparent guidelines to get the travel industry and economy going.”
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    UNWTO partners with IATA ahead of upcoming G20 summit

    Ahead of the G20 summit in Saudi Arabia, which includes a dedicated tourism segment, the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Air Transport Association (IATA), as the two parties work together to restart global tourism.
    Highlighting unique status of the UNWTO as a bridge between the UN system and the private sector, the new agreement will focus on enhancing consumer confidence in travel and placing sustainability at the centre of recovery and future growth.
    From the start of the current crisis, the body has sought to lead the way in addressing the key factor needed for the successful restart of tourism.
    This agreement with the global trade association for the airline sector builds on this and deepens the existing collaboration between both organisations to keep geared towards restoring the confidence of travellers.
    UNWTO secretary general, Zurab Pololikashvili, said: “Air travel is an essential component of global tourism.

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    “This partnership between UNWTO and IATA will see us work closely together to increase confidence in flying and tourism in general.
    “UNWTO will use our expertise in innovation and our status as a connector of public and private sector leaders to help get aviation moving again.”
    “This partnership between UNWTO and IATA will see us work closely together to increase confidence in flying and tourism in general.”
    As well as focusing on building and maintaining confidence in international travel, the new agreement will also see UNWTO and IATA work closely together to foster innovation and promote greater public-private collaboration.
    As tourism restarts, this memorandum will help ensure recovery is sustainable and inclusive.
    IATA director general, Alexandre de Juniac, said: “The safe opening of international borders to tourism is essential.
    “Tourists want to feel safe, and they want to be confident that their travel plans won’t be affected by last-minute changes to rules and regulations.
    “For this to happen, even greater collaboration between the public and private sectors is needed.
    “This enhanced partnership with the World Tourism Organisation will help guide aviation’s recovery over the critical months ahead.”
    IATA has been an affiliate member of UNWTO since 1978, providing a strong voice for the international air transport sector.
    This latest partnership comes as UNWTO continues to lead the global tourism sector in its response to the challenges posed by the pandemic.
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