Coronavirus: airline industry complains of “exaggerated” reactions to Omicron

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“Unfortunately, governments overreacted to the emergence of the Omicron variant at the end of the month” of November 2021, he said, quoted in a press release from his organization, which brings together more than 290 companies.

With the procession of measures “whose ineffectiveness has already been proven” to slow the contagion, such as border closures, the “excessive” increase in tests and quarantine measures, “it is not surprising that the sales of international plane tickets made in December and early January fell sharply compared to 2019, which augurs for a first quarter (2022) more difficult than expected, ”said Mr. Walsh.

For the latter, these travel restrictions do little to combat the international spread of the virus. The practice of the last two years has shown it.

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“These measures place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods”, laments the boss of Iata. “If experience is the best teacher, let’s hope that governments will be more attentive at the start of the new year,” he added in a commentary on the latest figures from his organization on passenger transport.

These data are from November, as this is the last month for which the association of the vast majority of airlines can provide a complete picture. At that time, demand for airline tickets was still recovering, aided by the relaxation of corona rules in various countries. In November, demand was 47% lower than in 2019. A month earlier, demand was still almost 49% lower. For some time now, IATA has compared the number of passengers with that of 2019, because a comparison with 2020, the first year affected by the pandemic, would give a distorted picture.

Prior to Omicron’s emergence, Iata, whose members represent 83% of global air traffic, hoped to see the industry continue to climb back up this year, after suffering an unprecedented shock since March 2020.

According to the latest estimates, dating back to the general meeting of Iata in early October, companies must suffer a cumulative loss of 11.6 billion dollars this year, against 51.8 billion expected in 2021 and 137.7 billion. in 2020.

The Iata scenario for 2022 foresees very contrasting situations depending on the major geographic areas, with American airlines finding the path to profitability this year ($ 9.9 billion in cumulative profits).

For their part, European companies, more exposed to long-haul networks and therefore to border closures, must remain clearly in deficit in 2022 with an expected loss of 9.2 billion dollars, however halved compared to 2021 (20 , 9 billion), according to Iata.

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