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A waiting room sits empty at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris on May 12, 2020.ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images

Global airlines are bracing for a slower recovery as governments respond to new COVID-19 variants with more travel curbs, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said.

New restrictions now pose a “downside risk” to IATA’s forecast return to 50 per cent of pre-crisis passenger traffic levels in 2021, Director General Alexandre de Juniac said on Wednesday.

The clampdown “could make even that modest outlook very challenging,” de Juniac said. IATA said global passenger traffic fell 66 per cent and cargo demand by 10.6 per cent in full-year 2020.

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