People, Travel

IATA Wary of Zika Effect

IATA Wary of Zika EffectIATA Wary of Zika Effect

Several airlines have raised concern that the rapidly spreading Zika virus may be discouraging travel in the Americas, the director of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Tony Tyler told reporters in New York Thursday.

His comment on the sidelines of an event hosted by the global airline trade group marks one of the industry’s first acknowledgments that the mosquito-borne virus could hit revenue, Reuters reported.

“A number of members have expressed concern that they may already be seeing some effect on travel, particularly in the Americas,” he said. “When we publish (traffic) numbers, particularly the regional numbers for January, perhaps there will be the first indication of that.”

Tyler could not comment on what kind of impact the airlines were seeing, whether destination switches by travelers or lower bookings overall.

Bookings to Zika-hit parts of the Americas fell 3.4% from a year ago between January 15, when the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel advisory for pregnant women, and February 10, according to a report last week by travel data analysis company ForwardKeys.