Why global travel won't be normal until 2023

 

The idea of an overseas holiday could be longer away than we expected with an international airline boss predicting things won't be normal until 2023.

Alexandre de Juniac, chief executive of the International Air Transport Association, delivered the sobering news on ABC News Breakfast this morning.

"We have published today a new forecast about the potential recovery of the air traffic, and what we see is that things should come back to normal in 2023, which is later than our previous forecast," Mr de Juniac said.

"That shows, you know, the importance and the severity of this crisis on air transport….We should join progressively the historical trends by the beginning of 2023.

"What we have planned is to restart the industry, first by reopening domestic markets, then regional continental markets, such as Asia-Pacific, or Europe, or North America.

"At the end of 2020, the traffic should be between 50 to 55 per cent of the same level that was in place in 2019.

"So, we would lose something like half the traffic for the 2020."

Mr de Juniac said if it hadn't been for government support for airlines across the world, many would already be bankrupt.

"There is a risk that some airlines would go to bankruptcy," he said.

"So, we are relying on the support packages and the rescue plans that have been put together by governments and that have been announced by governments, with, I have to say, very supportive and open attitudes to help us. But without this plan, half of the airlines could be bankrupt in June, and 80 per cent could be bankrupt in July."


Commuters pack trains in Adelaide

Adelaide is the first state to prove why returning to work will be difficult as dozens of people were seen crowding trains and buses.

Health authorities met in Adelaide yesterday afternoon after photos emerged of commuters standing shoulder-to-shoulder during busy services earlier this week.

"I believe Adelaide Metro will single-handedly be responsible for the second wave of COVID-19 by its poor form of lessening services and carriage numbers," one commuter, Dan Foster, wrote on Twitter.


The South Australian government has insisted the situation is under control, with Premier Steven Marshall saying a maintenance issue with some trains had disrupted services.

Transport Minister Stephan Knoll told parliament that no major changes were necessary.

"The public health advice has not been for the Transport Department to do anything different from what it is doing."


Traffic jams could be 'worse' after virus

Traffic congestion in Australian cities may become worse than before the COVID-19 pandemic partly because of anxiety over public transport hygiene, a transport researcher says.

A survey by the Institute of Transport & Logistics Studies at Sydney University found 84 per cent of respondents considered car travel their most comfortable option, with 42 per cent finding buses the least comfortable, followed by trains at 33 per cent.

ITLS's Associate Professor Matthew Beck says this indicates anxiety over public transport hygiene could result in more private cars on roads as Australians slowly head back to the office.

"The research shows a current aversion to public transport, and given the increased attractiveness of the car, as bio-security becomes an attribute in mode choice, if we are not careful we can expect to see congestion at levels even worse than before the COVID-19 pandemic," he said.

The ITLS survey of more than 1000 Australians in the first half of April also found average weekly household trips had dropped to 11 from 23.9 before the pandemic.

"All it takes is a 10 per cent reduction in congestion in the peak and the whole system flows much more easily. Everyone can see that the roads are less congested around Christmas; that is just a 10 per cent reduction," he said.

- AAP


Blood from recovered patients to be studied

Fifty Queenslanders could hold the key to understanding how patients diagnosed with COVID-19 fight off the deadly virus.

Researchers hope blood samples from those who are back on their feet could unlock a way to fight the illness.

Identifying how their immune systems responded would help scientists get a step closer to a T cell immunotherapy, Dr Corey Smith, head of QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute's Translational and Human Immunology Group says.

"T cells - which are a type of immune or white blood cell - play a critical role in fighting diseases and infection," he said.

"We believe it's likely that in patients who are getting less sick from COVID-19, it's because their T cells are responding well and fighting this virus.

"But we need to test that theory in the laboratory and that's why we need blood samples from recovered patients.

"We will grow their T cells in the lab and screen them against the virus to see if they fight it."

Once scientists understand how patients fought off the virus, they hope to develop immunotherapies against it.

"The aim would be to take T cells from donors who have recovered from COVID-19 and turbocharge those T cells in the laboratory to recognise and attack the virus.

"We hope this approach could save the lives of the sickest patients."

Dr Smith said the researchers were hopeful immunotherapy could be developed in six to eight months.

- AAP


Sydney school closed after staff member contracts virus

A public school in Sydney's west has been closed after a staff member tested positive for the coronavirus.

Werrington Public School will be closed for students and staff today while it conducts contact tracing with NSW Health and is cleaned, according to the NSW Department of Education.

"Staff and students who are identified as a close contact will be contacted and advised they should self-isolate for the required period of time," it said in a statement.

"The safety and wellbeing of our staff and students is of paramount importance to us at all times. As such we will continue to work closely with NSW Health to ensure that all necessary health advice is adhered to," it added.

All students will learn from home today.

The department said it would issue further advice on Thursday on when the school will reopen.