As people dream of taking to the skies once more, they face the prospect that changes to curb the spread of coronavirus will be even more challenging than those brought in after the 2001 terror attacks in the United States.”The COVID-19 crisis is the biggest disruption in the history of the aviation industry. The recovery is going to be long and slow,” Albert Tjoeng, regional spokesman for IATA, told AFP. A confusing patchwork of rules imposed by countries at different stages in tackling their outbreaks makes it tricky for consumers to plan holidays or visit family abroad.
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This is the new reality of mass air travel. In addition to the strict security measures commonplace around the world since then, passengers will now encounter a barrage of checks for COVID-19. Implementing new regulations is already proving challenging — and chaotic. Some nations are maintaining bans on travelers from hard-hit nations or requiring people to enter quarantine on arrival, typically for a 14-day period.
“Before the pandemic, we were told to arrive two hours before the flight. This time we had to be at the airport at least four hours before flying,” said Indonesian Suyanto after taking a domestic route in late May.
Passengers in the country must declare a reason for flying, provide documentation proving they are virus-free, undergo multiple screenings, and offer details of their movements on arrival.
“It was more tiring and expensive. With these kinds of strict rules, I think people will think twice before travelling,” said the 40-year-old, who had to pay double the usual fare for his short flight as some seats were left empty for social distancing.
As the aviation industry attempts to find a way forward, experts warn the impact of the pandemic will be far-reaching.
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