Hope for transatlantic air traffic from June

The umbrella association of airlines IATA expects transatlantic air traffic to open up in June. “We are quite optimistic,” said IATA boss Alexandre de Juniac on Wednesday in Geneva. He is assuming that both sides will agree on common rules for safe air traffic before the summer travel season. Due to the corona pandemic, the EU and the USA have imposed extensive entry restrictions, which still apply.

De Juniac welcomed the EU plans for a single digital European vaccination card. The “digital green proof” should document corona vaccinations, but also the results of approved PCR and rapid tests as well as survived corona infections and be ready on June 1st. It is only problematic if there are too many different digital solutions, said de Juniac. That made traveling too complicated for the passengers.

The organization developed the “IATA Travel Pass” itself. It is an app for the mobile phone in which travelers can save forgery-proof vaccination and test certificates and show them to airlines and immigration authorities if necessary. The app should be available from April. De Juniac hopes that the EU certificate can be integrated into the IATA travel pass.

The airlines are still in a mood of crisis after the unprecedented decline in passenger numbers in Corona year 2020, as de Juniac said. On average, fewer than half of the flights per month are on the usual routes. The number of passengers was as low as it was in 1998 – a decrease of 66 percent last year. Governments would have supported the industry with $ 225 billion (about 189 billion euros). Of this, a good half (54 percent) must be repaid. Passenger traffic revenue fell by $ 418 billion last year. “I urge governments to take even more stimulating measures,” said de Juniac.

Environmentalists criticized the airline lobby’s idea of ​​promoting flights with taxpayer money. “The new normal will mean fewer flights, especially fewer business trips, and the industry will have to adapt to this,” said Andrew Murphy of the Transport & Environment association in Brussels. Public funds should better be spent on developing clean fuels and modern aircraft rather than carbon-intensive flying.

Aviation accounts for two percent of global CO2 emissions. In Europe, airlines have to buy carbon pollution rights. With surcharges on tickets, consumers could help by financing projects to reduce CO2. Flying could only become climate-neutral if kerosene is replaced by synthetic fuels that are produced using renewable energies. But these are still very expensive because there is still no production on an industrial scale.

De Juniac, former CEO of Air France-KLM, will retire as IATA general manager at the end of March. His successor is William Walsh, the former head of British Airways and its holding company International Airlines Group (IAG).

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