GENEVA — The International Air Transport Association on Aug. 19 urged governments to abide by international agreements and treaty obligations to enable airlines to repatriate close to nearly one billion dollars in blocked funds from the sale of tickets, cargo space, and other activities.

“Governments are preventing nearly one billion dollars of airline revenues from being repatriated,” said Willie Walsh, International Air Transport Association’s Director-General, in a press release.

“This contravenes international conventions and could slow the recovery of travel and tourism in affected markets as the airline industry struggles to recover from the Covid-19 crisis.”

Airlines will not provide reliable connectivity if they cannot rely on local revenues to support operations, said Walsh.

“That is why it is critical for all governments to prioritize ensuring that funds can be repatriated efficiently. Now is not the time to score an ‘own goal’ by putting vital air connectivity at risk,” Walsh said.

About $963 million in airline funds are being blocked from repatriation in nearly 20 countries. Four countries — Bangladesh ($146.1 million), Lebanon ($175.5 million), Nigeria ($143.8 million), and Zimbabwe ($142.7 million) — account for over 60 percent of this total. However, there has been positive progress in reducing blocked funds in Bangladesh and Zimbabwe of late.

“We encourage governments to work with industry to resolve the issues that are preventing airlines from repatriating funds. This will enable aviation to provide the connectivity needed to sustain jobs and energize economies as they recover from Covid-19,” said Walsh.

International Air Transport Association also called recent Singapore’s plans to ease travel restrictions a step in the positive direction.

“Singapore’s announcement is a positive step in the right direction,” said Conrad Clifford, International Air Transport Association’s Deputy Director-General.

“We understand the need for a cautious approach and look forward to seeing further lifting of quarantine requirements. This will help with the recovery of the aviation and tourism sectors.”

“It has been 1.5 years since the world closed its borders to international travel,” said Clifford.

“A lot more is known today about Covid-19. Unfortunately, many states in the Asia Pacific continue to adopt a risk-averse zero-Covid-19 approach and continue to shut their borders. This is not sustainable and is detrimental to both their economies and their populations.”

The International Air Transport Association has announced that the EU Digital Covid-19 Certificate and UK NHS Covid-19 Pass can now be uploaded into International Air Transport Association Travel Pass as verified proof of vaccination for travel.

“Covid-19 vaccination certificates are becoming a widespread requirement for international travel. Handling the European and UK certificates through International Air Transport Association Travel Pass is an important step forward, providing convenience for travelers, authenticity for governments, and efficiency for airlines,” said Nick Careen, International Air Transport Association’s Senior Vice President for Operations Safety and Security. ”

(With inputs from ANI)

Edited by Saptak Datta and Praveen Pramod Tewari

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