International travel may not return to normal until 2023, experts say

International travel -

May 25, 2020

The international travel industry likely won’t return to normal for at least three years as it tries to bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic, a major travel association says.

The slower-than-expected reopening of world economies coupled with continued travel restrictions and COVID-19 fears among travelers could ground most of the world’s passenger jets until 2023, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said, Lonely Planet reported.

Air travelers are also being turned off by the inconvenience of flying during the pandemic. A recent survey found that 69 percent of travelers would rather stay home than face a 14-day quarantine when they arrive at their destination, the outlet said — something which the IATA is urging governments to reconsider. “To protect aviation’s ability to be a catalyst for the economic recovery, we must not make that prognosis worse by making travel impracticable with quarantine measures,” Alexandre de Juniac, the association’s director and CEO, told Lonely Planet.

“We need a solution for safe travel that addresses those challenges,” de Juniac said. “It must give passengers the confidence to travel safely and without undue hassle, and it must give governments confidence that they are protected from importing the virus.” The association said it expects domestic travel will lead the way when the recovery does get going, but global passenger traffic isn’t likely to return to pre-pandemic levels until at least 2023, they said. The group estimates international travel demand will be 24 percent below 2019 levels by next year.

In a release Tuesday, the IATA set out principles for a reopening of the airways, vowing to put safety first and to use new science and technology to make that happen. However, recent reports have suggested that commercial air travel may never fully rebound, and private air carriers may see an uptick in business. Major airlines have also come under fire during the coronavirus for continuing to pack planes despite social-distancing restrictions and promises by air carriers.