Airlines are expected to turn cash positive within the year - although the near-term picture is bleak.
That was the prediction of International Air Transport Association (Iata) director-general and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac, during his first Covid-19 briefing of 2021.
While there was hope that the year-end holiday period would boost figures, due to increased restrictions this did not happen.
“We got even more restrictions. Governments tightened borders in a knee-jerk response to a virus mutation. Canada, UK, Germany, Japan and others added testing to their Covid-19 measures without removing quarantine requirements. In other words, they have chosen policy measures that will shut down travel,” he said.
In De Juniac’s view, this indicates that these governments are not interested in managing a balanced approach to the risks of Covid-19. “They appear to be aiming for a zero-Covid world. This is an impossible task that comes with severe consequences.
“A more balanced public policy approach is needed - one that is based on testing as a replacement for quarantines so that we can begin addressing the severe side effects of Covid-19 policies.”
And as Iata continued to prepare for the day that governments were ready to open borders - with testing or with vaccinations - there was some good news, he said. The first pilot of the Iata Travel Pass app was launched in partnership with Singapore Airlines on routes to Kuala Lumpur and to Jakarta.
The Iata Travel Pass is a mobile application that allows travellers to store and manage certifications for Covid-19 tests or vaccines. “We are still on track for a full rollout of the app during the first quarter of this year,” he said.