Australia: international borders likely closed until 2021
Simon Birmingham is the Australian Tourism Minister, and he is not confident about Australian borders being open to overseas tourists anytime soon.
Content of this Post:
View of Australia Minister for Tourism
He is quoted in the Australian Financial Review as saying:
“It’s sadly very unlikely that our health crisis is likely to facilitate an opening to international travel this year.”Simon Birmingham, Tourism Minister, Australian Financial Review
Given Australia’s success (so far) at containing the pandemic on its shores, he can’t see the borders opening, and the consequent risk of increased cases of COVID-19 that would come with that, before there are sustained improvements in treatments, or preferably a vaccine.
Although he doesn’t address this, it also probably means that the ban on outbound international travel (with some exceptions) will remain until then. That is also supported by my sources.
View of International Air Transport Association (IATA)
Predictions of future rates or travel, once restrictions are lifted, are also plummeting. Even a survey by the industry group the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is reporting even more caution amongst travellers in the space of a couple of months. In April, they reported that 61% of travellers intended to travel within a few months of the ‘end’ or the COVID-19 pandemic. By June, this has dropped to 40%. Not good for the travel industry.
Alexandre de Juniac, the Director-General of IATA addressed this in his remarks to a media briefing yesterday (Tuesday 16 June 2020).
The re-start is anything but a normal situation for airline planning or passenger demand. Forward bookings into the autumn period are down 82% on normal levels. And fewer travellers are planning for an early return to the skies. Our most recent survey indicated that only 40% would fly within a few months of the pandemic subsiding. That is down from 61% in early April.Remarks of Alexandre de Juniac, Media Briefing on COVID-19, 16 June 2020
The aviation industry has a difficult road ahead when it comes to sustainability. It’s going to require a relative revolution in technology, with ‘electric planes’ or hydrogen planes, or some form of jet engine that doesn’t require a carbon based fuel. And that is going to require the development of an alternative to jet engines probably.
It’s a big ask. It will take time to develop.
This move to home grown and manufactured SAF is a first step – maybe even a baby step in a very long road of innovation. In the long run, US$200 million won’t even touch the sides.
Given that the majority of new cases of COVID-19 being reported in Australia come from overseas travellers held in quarantine, keeping our borders closed is a logical position.
While I think surveys are worthwhile, they are often ambiguous in what they are showing. The opening of borders, signifying the pandemic is under control, will be a great incentive for travellers to confirm their intent. The survey is really more an indication of pessimism/optimism or anxiety about the pandemic at a point in time, rather than travel intent, I would argue. Subtle but important difference.
Still, I reckon, I can probably still kiss my October trip to the Caribbean goodbye.
What did you say?