COVID19 has affected everyone in one way or the other. When it comes to air travel the majority of people are affected. The first time the reality of coronavirus hit me was during a flight in early March this year. I saw a small number of fellow passengers wearing masks and surgical gloves. My initial reaction was if they were overreacting to the coronavirus? Fast forward two weeks I was on another flight, and this time I myself was wearing a mask and had anti-bacterial wipes to disinfect the seat and area around me in the aeroplane.
- Pakistani airline Rayyan Air to charter a PIA Boeing 777
- PIA resumes charter flights between the UK and Pakistan
- Pakistan Civil Aviation imposed fine of Rs 100,000 on Qatar Airways
- British Airways’ first flight touched down in Lahore this morning
- British Airways replaces CEO Alex Cruz with immediate effect
Was I overreacting? My reaction was a mix of panic and being a copycat. Of course, I was scared of catching the virus. I believe the same has happened on a larger scale when countries closed their borders as a result of panic. Many countries saw other countries closing their borders and they followed suit. I guess it was the fear of the unknown. The one question most of the people are asking every day, is when will the borders open?
I was unable to fly between March and July. During this period I used to wake up every day and look for any clues or news that gave me hope for normalisation of air travel or opening of borders. The air travel is slowly resuming and I have been fortunate to fly since however even now the questions on everyone’s mind are, when will the quarantine requirement finish. When will we be able to travel freely? When will we be able to go for short weekend breaks?
Countries around the world are opening up their borders, however, almost all of them requiring passengers to be quarantined for 14 days upon the arrival. There is a long list of countries that still have a complete suspension over incoming passengers air traffic. The rest of the countries requiring a minimum of 14 days quarantine upon arrival. The question to ask is if this is the best solution in the current environment for the countries to help stop the spread of the virus?
Is there a solution available for countries to open borders without the requirement for 14 days quarantine and at the same time not risking the increase in the virus rate? There is a need for countries to unite and come up with a standardised approach. Currently, there is no standard approach. International regulatory bodies, governments, countries need to take lead under a single platform and agree to a common policy with regards to air travel and border control.
Let us suppose a Country A has a lower infection rate (referred to as R rate) than Country B. What is stopping Country B for letting the travellers from Country A without quarantine requirement. Statistically speaking travellers from Country A will not be a risk for spreading the virus in Country B. If the R rate or infection rate in Country A starts to rise, Country B can give 7 days advance notice to travellers from Country A that they will be quarantined upon arrival.
This may sound a very simple solution. If so why has this not been implemented? The only a few countries that have implemented the above policy in some ways. What is stopping other countries to follow suit? The coronavirus is here to stay. We need to look into ways to coexist with the virus. If not then we risk much more. To avoid the demise of Air Travel, a solution is required and required immediately.