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Will international flights return in 2021? What we know now

Will international flights return in 2021?  What we know now

(CNN) – There is hope: Summer vacations abroad may happen in a big way this year.

The number of people leaving their country will start to creep in late spring and rise even higher by the middle of the year. Travel Industry experts expect, as vaccines and risk-based safety measures spread more widely, coronavirus cases around the world are starting to decline again.
Paul Charles, founder and CEO of the London-based travel advisory firm, said: “I am absolutely confident that on May 1st onwards … we will all be in a much better world.” Computer agency.

Charles and other industry experts say vaccines and testing are the way forward, but perhaps more consistency and cross-border coordination is needed.

“When you don’t have a coordinated global approach, it is very difficult for the industry to move forward, especially when the rules of the game change fundamentally every day,” said Luis Felipe de Oliveira, Director General of Airports Council International. (ACI), a global trade organization representing the world’s airports.

The departure test is one of the components of making travel safer during a pandemic.

Joseph Okpako / Getty Images

There is a lot of work to be done in resolving the testing protocols that would allow backpackers to withdraw from quarantine and find ways to share vaccines and test information across borders seamlessly and safely.

Sovereign states still decide what is best for them individually, given their health and economies, but progress has been made in getting countries to view more globally the enormous economic power that travel represents.

Alphabetical soup for agencies, organizations and companies (World Tourism OrganizationAnd the International Civil Aviation OrganizationAnd the ACIAnd the WTTC, Airlines, etc.) in numerous sets of global guidelines and recommendations aimed at making travel safer, easier and less disruptive for a world of starving consumers to change the landscape.

ACI’s de Oliveira says the summer boom could mean international air traffic reaches 50% to 60% of previous levels in most countries.

Here are some of the hurdles that travelers and the industry will need to overcome as travel increases:

Eliminate quarantine

De Oliveira said mandatory and variable quarantine requirements “are basically killing off the restart of the industry”.

When he spoke to CNN Travel, de Oliveira was on the 12th day of a 14-day quarantine in Montreal after returning home from a business trip to the Dominican Republic followed by a personal trip to Mexico. He has been quarantined four times in the past seven months, and has spent 56 days at home without being able to go out.

This kind of time investment, combined with confusion about requirements – whether to go or go home – are major barriers for people who may be willing to travel. Safety is essential, but those in the industry are calling for a more subtle and layered approach.

A testing mechanism is needed to avoid quarantines, says Tory Emerson Barnes, executive vice president for public affairs and policy at the national nonprofit US Travel Organization, which has called for a risk-based and science-based approach to reopen international travel, “especially considering canceling Quarantine if you have the correct test protocol in place. ”

While vaccines will be crucial, Oliveira and others say the travel industry can never afford to wait until vaccines are fully administered globally, making testing a key part of the equation for safer travel in the near term.

Barnes mentioned a two-tier system of testing 72 hours before departure and again upon arrival as a possible standard, and cited Test pilot program in Hawaii Where a 10-day quarantine can be bypassed on most islands with negative test results – an example of a place where a quarantine exit test has increased demand.

Barnes said that while US Travel will encourage people to be vaccinated and tested in places that require quarantine, the association is not looking for blanket access requirements. “We wouldn’t say you should have a travel vaccine.”

It recognizes that determining who is responsible for creating and implementing consistent protocols is a challenge. “The government does not necessarily want that, and I do not know that the private sector should assume this responsibility,” she said.

Nevertheless, countries and organizations around the world are making progress in coordinating common approaches, says Alessandra Bryant, Regional Director for Europe at the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), a specialized agency of the United Nations.

A co-ordinated method of testing is already being implemented in many cases, and the next step globally is traceability, says Bryant, “to make sure we are able to share a certain amount of data, because if we didn’t share the data, we wouldn’t really be able to get it.” All the information we have Should Owns.”

Vaccination … and prove it

Some of this information may relate to vaccinations. The vaccination program in the United Kingdom is well underway. Other countries have also made significant progress, and the US program is slowly strengthening.

The traveler’s confusion may escalate as well, as more people begin hopping in the spring and additional requirements come into play for negative tests and proof of vaccination.

Australia, for example, has just announced that it will do so Negative Covid PCR tests require For all travelers, Qantas Airlines has suggested that all international passengers may soon be required to have a vaccination certificate.

Oliveira said we will need a coordinated global approach to accurately and securely recognize and share immunization and testing information.

Current practices – which involve paper documents printed from unknown labs in languages ​​that may be unfamiliar to those who examine them or a tangle of offline databases across the world – are less than ideal.

That’s why ACI supports the use of health apps like CommonPassIt is a tool that allows travelers to share lab results and vaccination records without revealing other personal health information. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is also working on a digital version Travel Pass platform.

Even when vaccines become widely available, not everyone will take them and researchers are looking to see if the virus is still transmitted by the people who have been vaccinated. Concealment, social distancing, sanitation and other layers of safety will remain a part of everyday life – and travel – for a long time to come.

Travel bubbles - like the projected two-way corridor between New Zealand and Australia - are among the measures specifically designed to take back some international travel.

Travel bubbles – like the projected two-way corridor between New Zealand and Australia – are among the measures specifically designed to take back some international travel.

Jorge Fernandez / LightRocket / Getty Images

Measures in the meantime

Seamless international travel won’t happen overnight.

Even as we wait for a drop in coronavirus cases and more global coordination around cross-border travel that’s safer and less overwhelming, the places And companies are increasingly offering their own temporary solutions.
Delta Airlines is trying a few Covid-tested and quarantine-free flights to the Netherlands. These trips Use of a combination of gold standard PCR test with rapid antigen test.
Oliveira says a rapid antigen test is helping the industry recover. While considered less than a minuteAntigen tests are much faster and less expensive than molecular tests as a single layer of risk management.
Iceland and Hungary They have embraced the concept of “immunity passports”, allowing people who have already been infected with Covid-19 and have recovered from their entry.

Unfortunately, like most things related to Covid, these measures are subject to change.

“Corridors could be useful if they were consistent, but again, they were running up and down, opening and closing in a short time, and that didn’t help consumers at all,” said Paul Charles, a travel industry consultant.

The great goal: socializing with strangers

Bryant of the World Tourism Organization hopes the volatility will soon come to an end as the world is missing out on an opportunity.

“What I regret most is that everything this tourism revolves around, which is trust in the unknown … the beauty of exploration, and meeting someone who has never met before from another culture, or another nation, everything is hanging, and she said from her home in Madrid:” And at stake, because people They tell us, “Do not trust anyone, cross the sidewalk, wear your mask, do not mix.”

While Bryant and her colleagues have taken every precaution and have continued to travel and work to address the global crisis threatening livelihoods in the industry, she wants to see more people travel safely.

“We want to bring the spirit of tourism back to people’s hearts. Because tourism is about building memories … and we want to go back to that. We want to be once again making beautiful memories.”

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