As we find ourselves in the middle of the second year of the age of COVID-19, the line spoken by Shakespeare’s witches in Macbeth comes to mind, if you’ll pardon the slight liberty taken with it. Shakespeare actually wrote “Double, double” in the play, but given all the travel bubbles announced, then cancelled, then re-announced, bubble, bubble seemed more appropriate. There’s also been Herculean amounts of toil undertaken by the aviation industry to restart international flights, including the work done to develop testing regimes and the infrastructure required to provide those tests. Unfortunately, we’ve also run into trouble with various entities rising up in opposition to countries requiring any kind of so-called “vaccine passport”, although the world had just such a passport years ago for Yellow Fever that was developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Travel bubbles, in which two locales agree to abide by certain rules in order to allow travellers between the two to forego quarantine measures, have been opening and closing in fits and starts since last year. Hong Kong and Singapore announced plans to open one at the end of 2020, but were forced to cancel plans for it when Hong Kong COVID-19 cases started to spike. The two powerhouses of Asian commerce announced in April they would try again starting on 26 May, but it was cancelled in mid-May as cases rose in Singapore. Australia and New Zealand also started, stopped and have now restarted a travel bubble, although it remains in a fragile state of affairs and in early May was almost closed when three people in Perth tested positive for COVID-19. And in late May the bubble between New Zealand and Victoria was paused after another COVID-19 outbreak.
When it comes to working to restart international travel, no one organisation has done more than the International Air Transport Association (IATA), first under the leadership…