Transatlantic Routes Could Re-Open In Weeks, Says IATA Airlines Head

There was cautious optimism among the travel industry about a surge in demand in the industry in the second half of the year, said the head of global airline body International Air Transport Association Director General (IATA) Willie Walsh.

Walsh said that he expects that in the coming months, there could be a re-opening of transatlantic flying between Britain and the United States.

Walsh told reporters that airlines are expanding schedules prompted by a sense of surge in travel demand by customers and by the optimism from the roll out of Covid-19 vaccines which could mean resumption of the routes that are closed.  

“I think we have to be optimistic that we will see a relaxation in relation to transatlantic flying during the coming weeks,” Walsh said.

The US and UK governments were being urged for some months now by major airlines including American Airlines, IAG unit British Airways, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines for reopening of travel between the two countries citing the advanced stage of mass vaccinations in the two countries.  

However a shortage of data about the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines used in the two countries against the Delta variant of the virus did not allow for an announcement to be made on the issue at the G7 leaders meeting in June, Walsh said.

Airlines would get a huge boost with the reopening of the transatlantic route,

Figures for May from the IATA showed that there was subdued demand for air travel by passengers globally with a 63 per cent drop in the figures for the month compared to the same period two years ago prior to the pandemic hit.

There was confusion among customers and travellers because of a lack of co-ordination between governments which was also slowing down the rate of recovery of the aviation sector, Walsh said.

In countries where people had have been completely vaccinated or where exists sensible testing regimes used for facilitating travelling, the risks of re-opening borders was very, very low, Walsh said referring to data.

Walsh forecast that there would be increasing pressure on various governments for allowing traveling with a demand for giving them back their freedom by people being completed vaccinated growing even though such customers were very reluctant to travel at the height of the pandemic.

“What we’re seeing is a shift in the consumer attitudes over time and I think that’s going to accelerate now, as people become more frustrated at the pace at which governments are moving,” he said.

(Adapted from

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