Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Travel bubbles 'complex to implement': Is it time to wave goodbye to the era of cheap flights?

When the COVID-19 first arrived on India's shores, the swift closure of the nation's borders coupled with the implementation of a stringent nationwide lockdown had many hopeful that India would manage to flatten the curve so that domestic and international travel could resume without much delay. As we now approach the end of the year, and as daily COVID-19 cases continue to hover around the 80,000 mark, the optimism of six months ago seems foolhardy.

It isn't just India that is suffering though. All across Asia, countries are facing persistent difficulties in preventing localised resurgences of the virus, disabling them from opening borders and kickstarting a regional tourism industry that has been among the worst affected by the pandemic. The concept of the 'travel bubble' originally proposed by Australia and New Zealand has also proved difficult to adopt. “Travel bubbles are extremely complex to implement, much greater than what people may have thought originally,” said CEO of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Mario Hardy to CNN. 

From Thailand to Australia to Malaysia to Vietnam, governments have come under increasing pressure to relax border restrictions but given the huge risk of importing the virus from abroad, planes continue to remain grounded and skies clear. Even countries like South Korea and Singapore that have lead the way in curbing the spread of the virus remain cautious in their approach to opening borders. 

While travellers may have been optimistic in March and April, the airline industry could see the writing on the wall. Speaking in late April, CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Alexandre de Juniac made a grim prediction that, with the mandated implementation of social distancing on flights, airlines would be staring at millions in losses if they operated under their original pricing models. 'If social distancing is imposed, cheap travel is over. Voila,' he said. 

22/09/20 ETNowNews.com

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