Airlines have been warned that coronavirus vaccines will not be a solution to the aviation industry’s problems with quarantine requirements expected to persist for many months, and borders to open and close unpredictably.
Last year was the worst on record for the aviation industry due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with full year traffic down around two thirds on 2019.
And the International Air Transport Association (IATA) isn’t predicting 2021 will be much better with losses of US$39 billion forecast for the global industry over the year.
Capa – Centre for Aviation founder and chairman emeritus Peter Harbison said international air travel would struggle to get off the ground in 2021 with revenue for airlines in the first half of 2021 looking “something close to catastrophic”.
He said vaccines were “not the solution” to the industry’s problems and would instead be a “sideshow” for international aviation for most of the year.
Vaccines would take many months to roll out and vaccination priority was going to be given to people who had, in most cases, lower travel propensity, he said.
“The younger, healthier people will not receive vaccinations till later in 2021 – that’s if they receive them at all in 2021,” Harbison said.
“Then there’s the point that no one is vaccinated until everybody is vaccinated.”
The number of different vaccines and recognition and safety standards of those would also be an issue, he said.
“This remains with national health authorities, and they have varying levels of risk tolerance.”