Europe’s airline and airport associations have written to Prime Ministers, Transport, Health and Home Affairs Ministers across the European Union, Schengen and the U.K., setting out deep concerns over their failure to implement coherent and science-based approaches to travel restrictions.
The letter, sent jointly from Airports Council International Europe (ACI EUROPE), Airlines for Europe (A4E) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA), is highly critical of the introduction of new restrictions relating to selected countries. Many of these restrictions, state the organizations, are inconsistent with the principles laid out by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
The aviation sector has been dealt a crippling economic blow by the pandemic. Despite repeated calls for a science-based, harmonized and coordinated approach to new restrictions – differing national approaches have emerged. Some of these unilateral national measures are contrary to expert guidance and further damage consumer confidence. Moreover, the imposition of such restrictions fails to take into account other options governments have to protect their citizens, such as effective track-and-trace systems.
“The European Aviation sector is urging EU/Schengen States and the U.K. to reconsider restrictions to travel that have been imposed between them – including quarantines”, state the three associations in the letter. “We fail to see any valid science-based and proportionate justification for such restrictions from a health policy perspective”.
The aviation associations assert that renewed efforts must be urgently put into:
- Effectively co-ordinating and aligning responses to the evolving epidemiological situation at EU level and in close co-operation with the UK, to be addressed urgently and jointly by home affairs, transport and health ministries and the European Commission;
- Re-enforcing the principle of risk-based and proportionate measures – localising restrictions and NOT imposing blanket country bans, with quarantine used as a very last resort – following ECDC guidance;
- Ensuring the interoperabiliy of contact tracing apps, as none of the existing apps are interoperable;
- A harmonized implementation of the EASA/ECDC and ICAO Take-Off Aviation Health Safety Protocols;
- Informing the public accordingly and in close cooperation with the travel and tourism industries.