Standardization of travel rules as key to the recovery of Latin American airlines


BOGOTA, Oct. 24 (Reuters) – Obtaining standardized rules for international travelers amid the coronavirus pandemic is the biggest hurdle for Latin American airlines.

Passengers are constantly experiencing delays and restrictions when traveling between countries due to different entry regulations set to contain the spread of different strains of the coronavirus, aviation industry directors said at a conference in Bogota, Colombia.

“Standardization is critical to building trust so people can fly again,” said Jose Ricardo Botelho, CEO of the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA).

The mismatch between different countries with frequent changes in air travel rules creates uncertainty among passengers, airlines and airline staff, said Pedro Heilbron, CEO of Copa Airlines.

“When you carry passengers and there are thousands of requirements, it is almost impossible that at least some passengers do not have the correct papers,” he said in the opening speech of the ALTA annual conference to journalists.

Some countries even penalize airlines with fines for passengers failing to comply with the rules, Heilbron added, but did not say which ones.

Nearly a year and a half of restricted travel has placed airlines and airports around the world under significant financial strain, requiring a more complete reopening of travel for the industry to recover and save millions of jobs.

“In general, there are some agreements and relative standardization, but the big differences come from the health authorities,” said Lucas Rodriguez, head of the civil aviation department of Colombia.

The need to meet new travel demands has dented airlines’ balance sheets.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the industry’s premier trade association, this month revised its estimate of net airline losses for this year to $ 51.8 billion from an earlier forecast of $ 47.7 billion .

IATA expects airlines to lose $ 11.6 billion in revenue in 2022.

Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra and Carlos Vargas Writing by Oliver Griffin; Adaptation by Diane Craft

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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