ACI-LAC recommends governments to avoid reintroducing restrictive measures
Dr. Rafael Echevarne, Director General of ACI-LAC stated that "air transport has been shown to be a safe means of transport and Latin American airports have been very responsible, implementing all the measures recommended by international organizations to prevent contagion"
The International Council of Airports of Latin America and the Caribbean (ACI-LAC) recommends that governments avoid reintroducing restrictive measures on air travel so as not to jeopardize the recovery of the aviation and tourism industry.
During 2021, the important advances made in vaccination were accompanied by the elimination of many of the restrictive measures on air travel in all the countries of our region, translating into a progressive improvement in the recovery of air traffic. While in January 2021 traffic at Latin American airports represented 45% of the same month in 2019, in November it recovered to 73%.
However, the appearance of the Omicron variant in recent weeks has shown that nothing can be taken for granted, and that our path to recovery remains fragile. But the extent to which we have to revise our expectations will depend above all on whether governments react rashly or not. Omicron is fast becoming the dominant variant in most countries and, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), travel restrictions are ineffective from a public health point of view and very damaging both economically and socially.
A study by Oxera and Edge Health into the impact of air travel restrictions on the spread of variants in the UK has shown that travel restrictions are ineffective in preventing the spread of a new variant; they can only slow it down slightly. Similarly, this study shows that the additional testing requirements established by the British government had no effect in preventing the spread of Omicron, concluding that once the variant is present in a territory, travel restrictions serve no purpose to prevent the spread of Omicron. reduce its transmission.
Countries should continue to apply an evidence-based and risk-based approach when implementing travel measures. Furthermore, reinstating the travel ban is not supported by the World Health Organization (WHO). General travel bans will not prevent international spread, and place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods. Similarly, all countries should ensure that the measures are periodically reviewed and updated when new evidence on the epidemiological and clinical characteristics of Omicron or any other variant becomes available.
According to Dr. Rafael Echevarne, General Director of ACI-LAC “it has been shown that air transport is a safe medium and Latin American airports have been very responsible, implementing all the measures recommended by international organizations to prevent contagion. The best way to combat COVID-19, including all its variants, is the vaccination of the population, the proper use of masks and cleaning protocols. Air transport is essential for the economic and social development of our countries and we cannot jeopardize all the important recovery work we have done in the last year."