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Even With COVID-19 Vaccinations, Analysts Warn International Travel Could be Years Away

As individuals around the world wait patiently for their chance to get vaccinated against the novel Coronavirus, travel analysts say international travel won’t resume anytime soon. Based on current warnings and vaccination rates, long-haul routes may not come back online until 2023.

For the international community, the COVID-19 vaccine was considered one of the keys to reopening travel. However, analysts are telling flyers not to make their bookings just yet, as questions remain about the global inoculation effort. Bloomberg reports international travel may not get off the ground until 2023, based on border restrictions and customer demand.

Vaccination Rates, Efficacy and Border Restrictions Could Stall Travel Recovery

Although experts agree that mass vaccination is the right step forward to restart the travel sector, it might not be enough on its own. Guidance from the World Health Organization suggests that early evidence does not indicate “whether or not they [the vaccines] stop transmission.”

To those ends, international entry requirements remain fractured, with nations taking split approaches to welcoming foreign travelers. While the United Arab Emirates only requires a negative COVID-19 test to enter the country, both Australia and New Zealand announced they would not fully open borders in 2021. For the United States, all inbound travelers must now provide COVID-19 test results prior to arrival, and prepare for a quarantine when they arrive.

For those reasons, experts are now projecting that international travel may not truly recover until 2023. While analysts predict that some international travel will resume in 2022, opening long-haul flights between nations may not restart until 2024.

Even the International Air Transport Association is now reducing their hopes that 2021 will be the year flyers come back to the skies. In their full-year 2020 passenger traffic results presentation, the organization predicted demand improvement could come up by only 13 percent this year – a far cry from the organization’s hopes for a 50-percent recovery in December.

“The world is more locked down today than at virtually any point in the past 12 months and passengers face a bewildering array of rapidly changing and globally uncoordinated travel restrictions,” IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said in a press release. “We urge governments to work with industry to develop the standards for vaccination, testing, and validation that will enable governments to have confidence that borders can reopen and international air travel can resume once the virus threat has been neutralized.”

Long Recovery Runway Aligned with Airline Predictions for the Future

The new data confirms projections for an industrywide depression going back to June 2020. Data provided by Cowen that month suggested airlines may not see pre-COVID passenger levels until 2025.

edgewood49 February 16, 2021

And now CDC recommends no travel to Mexico but then hey what do they know !!

Dublin_rfk February 13, 2021

If you are looking at politicians and expecting a sane and rational solution to the problems that they exacerbated good luck.

edgewood49 February 11, 2021

Mexico is the "benchmark" of sanitation in the world. So DSOhio have you been vaccinated? If not I wish you well

bozacksmith February 10, 2021

vaccinations aren't a guarantee of non spreading. Even Moderna is saying theirs should only reduce spread by 2/3rds and they seem to be ahead of the other vaccination vendors. Just more hoops to jump through that most of us won't. If half of my wifes staff at the local childrens and Covid hospital aren't getting the vaccinations they surely won't just for travel. We will spend $$ elsewhere.

DSOhio February 10, 2021

I agree, the "analysts" and "experts" on travel and COVID-19 aren't doing their research. I traveled to Mazatlan from Ohio in December with no issues and have a one week vacation planned for later this month in Puerto Morelos. Here is what I experienced on my trip to Mazatlan: Airlines require everyone to wear a mask for the duration of the flight - no exceptions. Entry into Mexico was easy, just a form to fill out, no vaccination or quarantine required. I stayed at the El Cid Marina Resort. Masks were worn by all staff and guests. Hand sanitizer is visible everywhere and given to you before you enter the restaurants. I saw the lobby being sprayed with disinfectant - the floors, the furniture, plants, everything. The travel industry is doing everything it can to keep people safe. I felt safer on the plane and at the resort than I do in my local grocery store. People that are traveling are complying with airline and hotel regulations and Mexico has stepped up to keep visitors safe. Don't listen to the fear mongers that go under the guise of "analyst" or "expert". As long as people do what they're supposed to do we can curb this thing and the travel industry will be back. I also have a cruise planned in October that I am looking forward to.