Following the adoption on Tuesday 13 October by European Affairs Ministers of a Council Recommendation on travel restrictions, airports and airlines across the aviation sector have branded it a failure and issued a stark warning of the potential consequences.
While the Council recommendation sets out guidance to member states on a coordinated approach to the restriction of free movement it fails to encourage a restart of travel through effective coordination and proportionate, predictable and non-discriminatory measures, according to aviation bodies Airports Council International (ACI) Europe, Airlines for Europe (A4E) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Stakeholders across Europe’s aviation industry are pushing for a common pre-departure COVID-19 testing framework to replace quarantines for passengers travelling from high risk areas, in order to re-establish freedom of movement in Europe. However, the Council Recommendation does not propose to replace quarantines with testing, effectively meaning borders remain closed. It also fails to harmonise the rules applicable for cross-border and domestic travel and ignores the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s opinion that travel restrictions – and in particular quarantines – are of ‘questionable effectiveness’ when community transmission is on-going, which is currently the case across much of Europe.
ACI Europe says that expectations for an effective solution now rest with the European Commission, which has charged the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and ECDC with the development of an EU Testing Protocol for Travel.