Asia Pacific airlines have issued a statement today calling for harmonization of testing in the face of the crisis facing the aviation industry.
The Covid-19 crisis has triggered losses for airlines exceeding US$84 billion worldwide this year with Asia Pacific airlines will account for more than a third of the losses or US$29 billion.
The fall in traffic is steepest in Asia Pacific with Asia Pacific airlines currently carrying less than two million international passengers per month, compared to 39 million a month in 2019. Seat capacity on international routes has accordingly fallen by 89% compared to 2019.
As a result, many Asia Pacific airlines are now announcing job redundancies. AAPA says that approximately 1.8 million direct aviation jobs in the Asia Pacific are potentially at risk as the pandemic persists and borders remain closed.
The airlines, in the form of their trade association, The Assembly of Presidents of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA), have issued a joint declaration along with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Airports Council International (ACI) Asia-Pacific.
AAPA has as its members all the major scheduled airlines in the region, including Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, JAL, ANA, Malaysia Airlines and Thai Airways.
The declaration comes from the 64th Assembly of Presidents / Resolutions in Kuala Lumpur and expresses “firm support” for the ICAO Council Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) guidance which is the basis of the aviation industry’s risk mitigation measures aimed at safeguarding the safety and well-being of air travellers.
The aviation industry is calling for governments to “harmonise cross-border measures that will ensure safe, smooth and sustainable air transport, as well as quicken the pace of the restart of travel and tourism”.
“As a critical risk mitigation measure, the industry supports the establishment of globally accepted and mutually recognised COVID-19 testing protocols. Conscious that emergency measures are required to contain the pandemic, the industry requests that travel restrictions are harmonised and coordinated among countries so that they are targeted, balanced, transparent and flexible in duration”.
“The Assembly views the setting up of a robust international testing framework, based on mutually-recognised accredited facilities delivering rapid, accurate, affordable and scalable testing prior to departure, coupled with other risk mitigation measures recommended by ICAO, as an effective approach to safely restart international air travel.”
Once again the industry is terming the “Blanket quarantine measures are a significant deterrent to air travel” and calls for them to “be reviewed in the context of these and other risk mitigation measures”.
Mr. Subhas Menon, Director General of AAPA said: ‘’The ICAO CART guidelines established earlier this year provide practical guidance to governments and industry to restart aviation and recover from COVID-19 in a coordinated manner, while keeping the safety, health and wellbeing of the travelling public as a top priority. Inconsistent and patchy measures create unpredictability and confusion for both travellers and airlines, while hampering the meaningful restart of cross border air transport.’’
Mr. Menon concluded, ‘’The prolonged closure of borders has had deep and lasting effects on the public and the wider economy. It has now become critical to improve collaboration and cooperation across borders so as to mitigate further damage and jump start recovery efforts. Asia Pacific airlines are firmly committed to working with governments and other stakeholders to rebuild passenger confidence and pave the way for the meaningful recovery of travel and tourism as essential services supporting commerce and livelihoods within the region and across the world.’’