News Link: Travel Bubbles Were Set To Restore Flying
Covid-19 Travel Bubbles Were Set to Restore Flying. But Haven’t Taken Off
International passenger volumes remain a fraction of pre-pandemic levels in the Asia-Pacific region. The Reason is countries are still maintaining containment measures.
A few months ago, travel bubbles were the big idea for reopening skies across the Asia-Pacific region. Countries would strike deals with each other to allow air travel with certain restrictions, many officials said, and those would expand to regional pacts.
It’s proving hard to do, even for countries that have largely managed to keep a lid on the coronavirus.
Take Singapore, a city-state whose economy is so dependent on its airport, officials liken it to the lungs. Passenger volumes are languishing at 1.5% of pre-coronavirus levels, threatening its status as an aviation hub and the investment that comes with it.
The region’s other airports are similarly quiet, according to the latest data from August.
Across the region, which is home to many of the world’s top coronavirus-conquering countries; strict travel caution is the key to keeping the virus in check. Governments from China and Vietnam to Thailand and also New Zealand, where the pandemic is under control. Similarly, they are unwilling to risk introducing new sources of infection from abroad, calculating that a Covid-19 resurgence would be worse than the economic harm caused by keeping borders shut.
As a result, countries have largely avoided opening up even to other low-risk countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Restarting relatively free travel to Europe and the U.S., where cases are high, remains a nonstarter for most.
Negotiations for travel bubbles have turned out to be slow and complex. Officials have found that it is not only comparing infection rates but also working out tricky details, such as swapping 14-day quarantines with tests. Agreeing to mutually acceptable testing standards and designating laboratories too to issue fit-to-fly certificates.
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Compiled by – MK (Editor)