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Airlines rally governments to simple, practical safety measures

By Wole Oyebade
26 November 2021   |   2:41 am
Global airlines have called on governments to adopt simple, predictable and practical measures to safely and efficiently facilitate the ramping-up of international travel as borders re-open.

Global airlines have called on governments to adopt simple, predictable and practical measures to safely and efficiently facilitate the ramping-up of international travel as borders re-open.

The airlines, under the aegis of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), urged governments to focus on simplified health protocols, digital solutions to process health credentials, and COVID-19 measures proportionate to risk levels with a continuous review process.

The industry’s vision to address the complexity is outlined in the newly released policy paper: “From Restart to Recovery: A Blueprint for Simplifying Travel.”

IATA’s Deputy Director-General, Conrad Clifford, said as governments are establishing processes to re-open borders, in line with what they agreed in the Ministerial Declaration of the ICAO High-Level Conference of COVID-19, the blueprint will help them with good practices and practical considerations.

Clifford said over the next months, “we need to move from individual border openings to the restoration of a global air transport network that can reconnect communities and facilitate economic recovery.”

The blueprint aims to facilitate the efficient ramping-up of global connectivity. “We must have processes in place to safely and efficiently manage the ramping-up of international travel as borders re-open. With over 18 months of pandemic operational experience and traveller feedback, we know that a laser focus on simplicity, predictability and practicality is essential.

“That is not the reality today. Governments worldwide have implemented over 100,000 COVID-19 related measures. This complexity is a barrier to global mobility that is exacerbated by the inconsistencies these measures have created among states,” Clifford said.

To simplify health protocols, the airlines recommended removing all travel barriers (including quarantine and testing) for those fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine. Also, enable quarantine-free travel for non-vaccinated travellers with a negative pre-departure antigen test result.

These recommendations are supported by public opinion research of travellers, which revealed that 80 per cent believe that vaccinated people should be able to travel freely; 81 per cent believe that testing before travel is an acceptable alternative to vaccination and 73 per cent believe that quarantine is not necessary for vaccinated travellers.

“Travel is important. Pre-pandemic, some 88 million livelihoods were directly connected to aviation. And the inability to travel freely by air has impacted the quality of life for billions of people. We know that travellers feel confident with the implementation of the COVID-19 safety measures.

“But they have clearly told us that the current travel experience needs to improve with better information, simpler processing and digital solutions. The Ministerial Declaration of the ICAO HLCC aligns with those of the G20 and the G7 in confirming that governments want to restore the social and economic benefits of global mobility. For that, industry and government must work together with a common vision of processes that are convenient for travellers, effective for governments and practical for the industry,” Clifford said.