Heathrow Airport
Sudden policy changes leave hardly any time for airlines to ensure even optimal growth. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: The IATA chief Willie Walsh has blamed policy U-turns by governments for operational delays faced by airlines in the UK and the US.

“In those few locations where these problems are recurring, solutions need to be found so passengers can travel with confidence,” Walsh said in a statement. “With governments making U-turns and policy changes there’s uncertainty until the last minute, leaving little time to restart an industry that was largely dormant for two years.”

Air travel demand on routes from Middle East to North America has risen above pre-pandemic levels after countries eased Covid-related travel restrictions. International air passenger traffic - expressed in terms of RPKs (revenue passenger - kilometers) – is up more than 300 per cent in April from a year earlier, according to International Air Transport Association. “Several route areas are actually above pre-pandemic levels, including Europe–Central America, Middle East–North America and North America–Central America,” said IATA in a statement.

Total demand for air travel in April was up 78.7 per cent compared to April 2021 and slightly ahead of March’s 76 per cent year-over-year increase. “With the lifting of many border restrictions, we are seeing the long-expected surge in bookings as people seek to make up for two years of lost travel opportunities,” said Walsh, who is IATA’s Director-General.

“The experience of the rest of the world is demonstrating that increased travel is manageable with high levels of population immunity and the normal systems for disease surveillance. We hope that China can recognize this success soon and take its own steps towards normality.”

Airlines have found that people are willing to travel, despite high fares and disruptions in airports across US, UK and Europe. “With the northern summer travel season now upon us, two things are clear: two years of border restrictions have not weakened the desire for the freedom to travel,” said Walsh.