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Major Airline Trade Groups Object to Latin American, Caribbean Covid-19 Restrictions

Ruthy Munoz
January 13th, 2021 at 1:03 PM EST

In a show of unity, major airline trade groups are expressing deep concerns with new measures and restrictions for air travel being imposed across Latin America and Caribbean. They are asking governments to adhere to and implement previously agreed to measures from the International Civil Aviation Organization, using testing programs that could alleviate quarantine requirements.

The new measures include quarantines, in addition to testing requirements. Travel bans that had been previously lifted are being reimposed and are rolling back the progress made on restoring air connectivity in 2020. This has resulted in an adverse effect on the socio-economic recovery in the region, placing millions of jobs at risk, said a joint statement released by International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA), Airports Council International-Latin America and the Caribbean (ACI-LAC) and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO).

“We again call on governments to implement and follow the internationally agreed biosafety protocols for aviation. We cannot go back to the beginning of the pandemic, closing borders or applying quarantines when even the World Health Organization has pointed out that the virus cannot be controlled in this way,” said Peter Cerdá, IATA regional vice president for the Americas.

In South America, Uruguay is currently experiencing an uptick in coronavirus cases and suspended entry into its country in late December for all travelers including Uruguayan nationals unless citizens or residents arriving by air purchased their ticket before January 6, both the U.S. Embassy in Uruguay and an IATA Covid-19 Travels Regulations map show.

“There will always be an element of risk, but there are strategies to mitigate this and as an industry we have necessary protocols in place,” Cerdá said. “Air transport is key to a country’s connectivity, especially when vaccine logistics require efficient transportation links to ensure deliveries.”

While emphasizing health and safety are and will always be the number one priority, the major trade groups said the airline industry has been supporting and advising states in their efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by implementing multilayered biosafety protocols at all stages of travel.

“The region’s airports have seen a gradual but sustained recovery since last June, reaching 45% of the total number of passengers carried in November 2019,” said Rafael Echevarne, director general of ACI-LAC. “The application of tests instead of quarantines has proven to be a highly effective alternative, generating confidence in travelers and contributing to the revival of travel and tourism.”

“Between January and November 2020, the airlines operating in the region carried about 40% of the total passengers transported in that period of 2019,” said ALTA CEO José Ricardo Botelho. “November marked a milestone with close to 16 million passengers in the region (45% of the total for November 2019) thanks to the reactivation of practically all the countries in the region.”

Some of the region’s other countries implementing air travel restrictions include Bolivia suspending travel to and from Europe and requiring additional measures for travelers who have been to Europe; Peru nixing flights of more than 8 hours and all European services; Cuba requiring a PCR prior to travel; and the Dominican Republic not allowing travelers from the United Kingdom and suspending travel to and from there.

Ruthy Munoz
January 13th, 2021 at 1:03 PM EST

Photo credit: A plane flies over palm trees PXHERE CREATIVE COMMONS / Unknown

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