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Overly harsh travel restrictions are destroying aviation: AAPA

Jack Burton




More than 6 months into the Covid-19 pandemic, the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines is urging governments around the region to ease what they view as unduly burdensome restrictions on international air travel and re-establish global connectivity with evidence-based measures to safeguard public health. The industry is taking initial steps toward restarting international operations by working closely with governments, health authorities and other stakeholders.

Most international flights worldwide are still grounded by border closures and other travel restrictions, even though domestic lockdowns are gradually being eased. The economic consequences of such lockdowns are extensive and dire, with the travel and tourism sectors amongst the hardest hit. Many airline failures and major job losses have been announced, and could become more widespread if the crisis becomes prolonged. Hopes that international air travel might gradually return in the second half now seem premature, as governments turn their attention and resources to fight resurgences in domestic infections.

The publication in June of guidance material in by the Council Aviation Recovery Taskforce of the International Civil Aviation Organization to anchor coordinated efforts to restart international air travel was a significant step in the right direction and welcomed by the industry.

But progress has been slow and uneven. While there have been initiatives and discussions about opening up international air corridors, “travel bubbles”, “green lanes” or “fast channels”, such initiatives have failed to gain traction due to their impractical requirements and inherent unscalability.

The AAPA reports that good progress is being made on widespread testing and contact tracing, wearing of masks and social distancing in the context of international air travel, but these need to be consistent and coordinated amongst governments working closely with airlines, airports and health authorities.

Public attitudes towards air travel are evolving as confidence is rebuilt. However, a major obstacle is the widespread imposition of blanket quarantine measures by governments on inbound passengers. This makes any attempt to travel internationally by air extremely daunting, with questionable benefits over the need for quarantines once sufficient community testing and contact tracing measures are in place. Furthermore, the unpredictability and changing requirements of such measures only add to the confusion for both airlines and passengers. According to the AAPA’s director-general:

“International isolation is not a sustainable long term solution for any government given the importance of travel and trade in supporting global economic and social activity. After more than 6 months, the lack of a framework encompassing harmonised or mutually recognised measures that are pragmatic, consistent and based on robust risk assessment, will not only irretrievably hurt the region’s airlines, but more importantly, negatively impact the region’s tourism and trade prospects. , as well as millions of livelihoods. We must take a pragmatic approach to restart flights gradually while mitigating risks to restore confidence and trust in the reliability of everyday air travel. “

“Quarantine measures should only be applied selectively for passengers originating from higher-risk locations. Another critical area for cooperation is reaching a common understanding on the use of Covid-19 testing as a further risk mitigation measure in screening international passengers, based on mutual acceptance. “

“Restoring international air connectivity is a shared challenge. We are calling on all governments to work cooperatively to re-establish global connectivity whilst maintaining appropriate measures to safeguard public health. Asia Pacific airlines remain fully committed to working closely with governments and other industry stakeholders to progressively restore international air links in a safe and secure manner, serving the needs of the travelling public and enabling the industry to continue to fulfill its key role in supporting wider global economic recovery. “



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  1. Avatar


    Friday, July 24, 2020 at 1:17 pm

    Seriously tourists will not visit in any numbers as long as they are required to spend the first 14 days of vacation locked in some government mandated hotel at 50,000 Bht. Severe punishment if you violate lockdown in any way.I wonder if the government wants tourists at all.

  2. Avatar

    rinky stingpiece

    Saturday, July 25, 2020 at 4:41 am

    I had a flight booked to go to Thailand, and it’s been cancelled. Apparently, you now need to register with the local embassy who seem to be acting as a kind of travel agent.
    This isn’t tourism.

  3. Avatar

    Richard King

    Saturday, July 25, 2020 at 6:48 am

    Hate to say it but it is not a problem isolated to Asia most countries are the same, So with job security uncertain and money tight not many will travel especially international with reduced capacity as getting back would be harder if another lockdown happens.
    And yes the cost of quarantine unless it is over a month minimum it would not be worth it and if you have to do the same flying back to your home country, Which meams a total of 2 months holiday.

  4. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Saturday, July 25, 2020 at 10:27 am

    They should change the rules from: we impose these rules for your own good, to: these are not rules they are recommendations. If you do not follow them it is your own risk.
    The chances of dying from this virus is .01 percent, and imposing these unneeded regulations is bankrupting Thailand.
    The present government are using the tiny threat of this virus to run a dictatorship.

  5. Avatar


    Tuesday, July 28, 2020 at 7:39 am

    I’m safer in Thailand than just about anywhere else in the world, so I’m not going anywhere.
    And, in the same breath, I don’t really want people from “less safe” countries coming here.
    A lot of positives from the people who are already returning under very strict restrictions.

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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