THE one question that every traveller has is, when can they fly again.
Most countries had closed their borders to international travel to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Even though some countries, including Malaysia, have allowed for domestic travel, opening the borders for international travel may take some time.
Australia will keep its borders closed till 2021 and Qantas has cancelled most of its international flights until end-October.
European countries have lifted their internal border controls from Monday, and they gradually plan to re-open borders to non-European Union members from July 1 to help the summer tourism industry.
But even if borders are opened, there will be restrictions, quarantines and a lot of logistical work involved especially at the airports for international travel.
People need to feel safe before they will begin flying again.
Until then, forward bookings for airlines are showing little development.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said overall bookings are down by 82% year-on-year compared with June 2019. Airlines would have sold 14% of tickets for the start of the winter season but that is not the case now.
The bulk of airlines make their money in the northern summer season, while the winter season, even in the best of times, is a struggle to remain profitable, it said.
IATA said only 45% of travellers surveyed intend to return to the skies within a few months of the pandemic subsiding. A further 36% said that they would wait six months. That is a significant shift from April 2020 when 61% said they would return to travel within a few months of the pandemic subsiding and 21% responded that they would wait about six months.
IATA’s latest forecast is that the airline industry will lose US$84bil this year.
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