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Continued from page 40


being prepared to stay overseas for longer than planned.” The source said: “We need


the business trip proposal fully worked up. Germany has done it with a letter from an employer indicating a traveller is on essential business. It remains to be seen whether that can get across the line. “Inbound group bubbles


could work. It’s potentially easier to administer than the business travel proposal. Groups would be the responsibility of the operator and there are a limited number of players.” The report also commits


the Department for Transport to “explore ways transit could be safely facilitated without passengers needing to self- isolate on return to the UK”. The source said: “It’s important to get transit working with travel corridors. That will become more important as we see more long-haul markets open up.” The report promises a


public health information campaign for departing and arriving passengers, a system of assurance for air travel and a campaign to publicise it. There will be a Tourism


Recovery Plan to support the inbound and domestic sectors, an overseas marketing campaign “at the appropriate time”, an Aviation Recovery Plan, and the DfT will work with the International Civil Aviation Organisation on a global framework for validating test and vaccination records. The report lays out a phased


resumption plan for cruise, but reports the restart must wait. A Global Travel Taskforce


Steering Group, details of which are unspecified, “will drive


development of the proposals”. i Cruise, page 39


Iata warns airlines will run out of cash by March


Many airlines will run out of cash before a vaccine becomes widely available next year, Iata has warned. The result will be failures and an


overhang of debt for many carriers that will take years to pay down, according to Iata chief economist Brian Pearce, who said: “Airline debt has gone up more than 50% to $280 billion. Airlines have to be


38 3 DECEMBER 2020


‘Testing remains priority for the restart of travel’


Ian Taylor


Aviation leaders say they are ready to distribute vaccines worldwide following successful trials, but they insist Covid testing remains the priority for restarting travel. Lufthansa Group chief executive


Carsten Spohr told Iata’s annual general meeting (AGM) last week: “The industry is excited about the vaccines. There is a lot of light at the end of the tunnel. Now governments turn to a different approach [and] we see a new impetus to testing. Investors see now we will get back.”


KLM chief executive Pieter Elbers


agreed, saying: “The news of the last two weeks put some positive momentum back into the market.” They insisted their carriers


would be ready to transport vaccines around the world despite the scale of the operation. Spohr said: “Some vaccines require extensive cooling. [But] the industry has shown previously this can be done. We were preparing for this for weeks. “This is about a joint effort,


not competing. But to ensure every person would get one shot of a vaccine it would require 8,000


transport aircraft. That gives you an idea of the size of this.” Iata director general Alexandre de


Juniac told the AGM: “It is a major logistical challenge, but we think we are ready. It will be an honour to do it.” However, they stressed the priority


remains testing to remove quarantine restrictions. Elbers said: “With more and more testing facilities now, we could move to the next step. We should not wait for the vaccine.” De Juniac agreed: “It is premature


to say how it [vaccination] will be done. We need testing now and when the vaccine is here. Testing is the key priority.” Willie Walsh, who was confirmed


as De Juniac’s successor from next April, was sharply critical of the government’s response to Covid. He said: “The coronavirus did not


Carsten Spohr, Lufthansa


stop us flying. The virus did not stop customers boarding our aircraft. They have been denied by a fragmented political response and a failure to adopt measures that would have allowed our industry to continue.”


able to service that and have money left over to pay debt down. It’s going to take years. “It’s inevitable we will see a


more consolidated industry. We’ll get consolidation through failures and mergers and joint ventures.” Pearce told the Iata AGM:


“It looks likely revenues will be 50% lower in 2021 than pre-crisis forecasts. The industry needs to downsize costs by an equivalent amount. “We expect cash burn to


continue through the first half of 2021. A vaccine raises the possibility the industry can start turning


Brian Pearce


around, but by that time many airlines may have run out of cash. “The average airline had eight or


nine months before they ran out of cash at the midpoint of this year, so they will run out at the end of March.”


travelweekly.co.uk


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