The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called for an end to wildly inconsistent COVID-19 travel restrictions that are stalling the recovery of air transport.
It urged governments to implement simplified regimes to manage the risks of COVID-19 as borders re-open to international travel.
“Travel restrictions bought governments time to respond in the early days of the pandemic,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.
“Nearly two years later, that rationale no longer exists. COVID-19 is present in all parts of the world.
“Travel restrictions are a complex and confusing web of rules with very little consistency among them.
“And there is little evidence to support ongoing border restrictions and the economic havoc they create”.
Testing results for UK arriving passengers demonstrate that travelers are not adding risk to the local population.
“Of the three million arrivals between February and August only 42,000 tested positive—or fewer than 250 a day,” said Walsh.
“Meanwhile, the daily case count in the UK is 35,000 and the economy—apart from international travel—is wide open. People should be just as free to travel”.
In the last months, several key markets that had previously been closed have taken steps to open to vaccinated travelers.
Among markets that were previously closed, Europe was an early mover, followed by Canada, the UK, the US and Singapore.
Even Australia, which has some of the most draconian restrictions, is taking steps to re-open its borders to vaccinated travelers by November.
IATA supports these moves and encourages all governments to consider the following framework for re-opening borders:
- Vaccines should be made available to all as quickly as possible
- Vaccinated travelers should not face any barriers to travel
- Testing should enable those without access to vaccines to travel without quarantine
- Antigen tests are the key to cost-effective and convenient testing regimes, and
- Governments should pay for testing, so it does not become an economic barrier to travel
Simplified Risk Management
A recent survey of the top 50 travel markets, accounting for 92% of global traffic, reveals an urgent need for simplification of the various measures governments are using to manage the risks of COVID-19.
“There is far too much complexity in the way borders are re-opening. The potential for a global re-connect could be hijacked by bureaucracies favoring stand-alone “made-at-home” solutions over approaches that work across borders,” said Walsh.