The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has condemned world leaders for imposing travel bans as they rush to react to a new Covid-19 variant Omicron.
These global transporters said in a joint statement on Friday that they reject fresh travel restrictions including those that limit the flow of people and good because they “will do nothing to prevent this while inflicting serious harm to still recovering global supply chains and local economies.”
IATA represents commercial airliners, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the International Road Transport Union (IRU), and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).
These groups represent about U$20 trillion of world trade share. This means the Omnicron travel restrictions are putting the jobs of workers in the logistics sector at risk, while also damaging local economies.
“Now is the time for heads of State to listen to industry leaders and workers, by taking decisive and coordinated action together to ease the strain on the supply chain, and support an exhausted global transport workforce during the busy holiday season,” they said.
“Public health officials tell us that we should expect variants to emerge. And by the time they are detected, experience shows that they are already present around the globe,” added Willie Walsh, Director General, IATA.
Although flight bans have affected air passenger traffic, the lobbies also say it could slow down deliveries by road or sea as countries close borders on foreign arrivals.
Umberto de Pretto, Secretary-General of IRU said the sudden halting of commercial travel was hurting workers who were “simply doing their job to keep global supply chains functioning.”
The World Health Organisation last week said that Omicron was a variant of concern, but asked countries to do more surveillance and study its infection patterns rather than lock borders.
Since South Africa first announced a new variant of SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, at least five dozen countries across the world have imposed travel restrictions, including the controversial blanket ban on all of South Africa’s neighbours.