Well there it is. After months of speculation, the highest international body of airlines has just said it doesn’t expect air travel to return to normal until 2023. That’s three years away.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Geneva (of course) reckons while most domestic travel will start up again towards the end of this year, international travel will be well-and-truly off the cards until the coronavirus pandemic is contained. That means shutting borders as much as possible until a vaccine is found.

While some international travel will restart next year, it will still be way lower than last year’s levels, and things won’t return to normal for years. It’s probably time to scrap those long-term plans to backpack around Asia or see Europe. A weekend away in Aus is probably a more realistic trip to hope for at the moment.

Aside from government restrictions, people’s actual desire to travel has also plummetted, which is affecting flight availability. The IATA found two-thirds of potential travellers would cancel their plans if they had to quarantine for two weeks, which is the duration of many people’s entire trips.

However, one option for Aussies in the near future may be New Zealand, with Scott Morrison and Jacinda Ardern already in very early talks of a ‘Trans-Tasman bubble’ with no two-week quarantine period.

Speaking on ABC News Breakfast, IATA CEO Alexandre de Juniac said international travel would restart slowly, in stages.

“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,” he said.

“At the end of 2020, the traffic should be between 50-55% of the same level that was in place in 2019.

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

The term “regional continental markets” sure sounds a lot like code for New Zealand, at least in Australia’s case.

Catch ya on the slopes this time next year.

Image: Getty Images / Alexander Spatari