Aviation body IATA has reported a “sharp” increase in the numbers of international air tickets sold in recent weeks as governments relax Covid-19 travel rules.
In the period around February 8, the number of tickets sold was 49% of the same period in 2019 – up from 38% for the period around January 25 (seven-day moving averages).
IATA said the 11-percentage point improvement between the January and February periods is the fastest such increase for any two-week period since the crisis began.
Furthermore, an IATA survey of the top 50 air travel markets shows there is increasing access for vaccinated travellers.
It found that 18 markets are open to vaccinated travellers without quarantine or pre-departure testing requirements.
The survey followed a spate of relaxations announced around the world, including in Australia, France, the Philippines, the UK, Switzerland and Sweden.
Willie Walsh, IATA director general, said: “Momentum toward normalising traffic is growing.
“Vaccinated travellers have the potential to travel much more extensively with fewer hassles than even a few weeks ago.
“Now we need to further accelerate the removal of travel restrictions. While recent progress is impressive, the world remains far from 2019 levels of connectivity.
“Thirteen of the top 50 travel markets still do not provide easy access to all vaccinated travellers.
“That includes major economies like China, Japan, Russia, Indonesia, and Italy.”
IATA continues to call for the removal of all travel barriers for those fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine, and quarantine-free travel for non-vaccinated travellers with a negative pre-departure antigen test result.
Calling for even faster progress with the lifting of restrictions, Walsh added: “Travel restrictions have had a severe impact on people and on economies. They have not, however, stopped the spread of the virus.
“And it is time for their removal as we learn to live and travel in a world that will have risks of Covid-19 for the foreseeable future.
“In nearly all cases, travellers don’t bring any more risk to a market than is already there.”