The International Air Transport Association 's (IATA) new Director General painted a grim picture of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic's impact on international air travel on Wednesday and pushed for consistency and impermanence across the board in terms of digital health certificates as well as travel restrictions and requirements as more and more people are vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Willie Walsh, briefing the press for the first time since taking over in his new role on April 1, revealed that international air traffic was down nearly 89 percent in February 2021 compared to February 2019.
"These are measures that may be necessary as temporary arrangements while we go through this crisis, but once we’re through it, we want to see these restrictions permanently removed so people can get back to traveling as they experienced back in 2019," IATA Director General Willie Walsh said in reference to proof of vaccination and negative COVID-19 test requirements.
According to Walsh, progress on rapid coronavirus tests "should reassure governments that there are ways to efficiently manage the risks of COVID-19 without relying on demand-killing quarantine measures and/or expensive and time-consuming PCR testing."
Similar to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the new IATA head called for the "development of global standards for digital COVID-19 test and/or vaccination certificates" to give travelers fewer hoops to jump through .
IATA recently developed its own digital health passport in the IATA Travel Pass, calling it "a personal secure digital wallet solution that can be used by passengers to obtain and store their COVID-19 test results from accredited laboratories." On Tuesday, the organization announced that Singapore will begin accepting the pass beginning May 1, 2021.
"Having the confidence of an aviation leader like Singapore accept IATA Travel Pass is hugely significant. Ongoing trials put us on track for IATA Travel Pass to be a critical tool for the industry’s restart by delivering verified travel health credentials to governments. And travelers can have complete confidence that their personal data is secure and under their own control," Walsh said in a statement accompanying this week's announcement.