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While Florida beaches and Iceland’s Blue Lagoon may tempt some travelers to get off their couches and fly somewhere this summer, air travelers are not expected to return to the skies in large numbers anytime soon.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the largest global airline organization, does not believe traffic numbers to return to pre-coronavirus pandemic levels until around 2023, according to its latest forecast. Domestic flyers in markets like China and the U.S. will return first in about two years and international flyers a year or two later by 2024.
“We are eager to fly,” IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac said during a briefing on Wednesday. But eagerness is not enough, at least not yet, to get those fearful of COVID-19 or who have lost their jobs back on planes.
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Some destinations are or plan to be open for at least part of the summer. Beaches are open in parts of Florida and Allegiant Air, JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines — all of which cater primarily to non-business travelers — are seeing small but noticeable increases in the number of people on flights to the state.
In Europe, the European Union’s economic affairs commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said Wednesday that the bloc “will have a summer tourist season.” Any opening, however, will come with clear health and safety guidelines to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.
What is not yet clear is whether any EU reopening would welcome both Americans and Europeans, or focus on something of a “travel bubble” among member states.
One possibility for summer holidays is the approach proposed by Iceland. The island hopes to reopen for visitors by June 15 with either mandatory COVID-19 tests or 14-day quarantines upon arrival.
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