Dubai: US President Joe Biden’s removal of the ‘Muslim Ban’ will drive passenger traffic on air routes of the countries that were included in the ban, an International Air Transport Association (IATA) official said.
The ban had blocked travel to the United States from several predominantly Muslim and African countries, including Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia.
“This creates more traffic opportunities,” said Sebastian Mikosz, Senior Vice President for Member and External Relations at IATA. “We always welcome opening the market, not closing it”
Mikosz hopes that the new administration’s regulations will be “light” and supportive of the airline industry as it goes through its worst crisis in history.
Biden’s “tougher” approach to COVID-19 will hurt air travel in the short-term, said Mikosz in a podcast on Saturday.
US has already announced mandatory quarantines for air passengers arriving in the United States from overseas, prompting opposition from aviation and travel industry groups.
“If the US market reopens faster because of those measures, we can only support them,” said the IATA executive.
“We’re looking for executive decisions because infrastructure and particularly the air traffic control infrastructure will play a huge role in in decreasing the carbon impact,” said Mikosz.
Among Joe Biden’s agenda is a $2 trillion investment to revamp domestic infrastructure and energy to curb climate change as well as boost economic growth.
Taxes don’t help
Mikosz is concerned that the new administration might impose fresh taxes in the name of environmental regulations.
“I’m worried about any way of regulating the environment through taxes because actually taxes were never helpful,” said Mikosz. Right now, “what we need is money to invest,” he added.
Why does US matter?
US is by far the largest air travel market in the world with 3 million passengers flying in and out of the country every day in pre-COVID times.
US airlines had a total revenue of around $248 billion in 2019 - nearly a third of the total commercial airlines revenue that year.
“This is why we are looking carefully at what’s going on in the US,” said Mikosz. “We are having a lot of contacts with our members to understand where they are going because we believe that this is where the industry will be also going”