Iata backs WHO proposals to ensure cross-border travel revival

Reuters file photo
Reuters file photo

Dubai - WHO recommended that governments should not make proof of Covid-19 vaccination as a mandatory condition for entry or exit.


Issac John

Published: Thu 15 Jul 2021, 2:01 PM

The International Air Transport Association called on states to follow new commonsense, risk-based recommendations from the World Health Organisation aimed at speeding up the revival of global cross-border travel.

Specifically, WHO recommended that governments should not make proof of Covid-19 vaccination as a mandatory condition for entry or exit.

WHO also suggested that measures such as testing and/or quarantine requirements for travellers who are fully vaccinated or have had a confirmed previous Covid-19 infection within the past six months should be avoided.

The global body also urged measures to ensure alternative pathways for unvaccinated individuals through testing so that they are able to travel internationally. The WHO recommends rRT-PCR tests or antigen detection rapid diagnostic tests (Ag-RDTs) for this purpose.

It suggested that authorities should only implement test and/or quarantine measures for international travelers “on a risk-based manner” with policies on testing and quarantine regularly reviewed to ensure they are lifted when no longer necessary.

Willie Walsh, Iata’s director general, said such commonsense, risk-based recommendations from WHO, if followed by states, will allow for international air travel to resume while minimising the chance of importing Covid-19.

“As WHO notes—and as the latest UK testing data proves—international travellers are not a high-risk group in terms of Covid-19. Out of 1.65 million tests carried out on arriving international passengers in the UK since February, only 1.4 per cent was positive for Covid-19. It’s long past time for governments to incorporate data into risk-based decision-making processes for re-opening borders,” said Walsh.

WHO also called on states to communicate “in a timely and adequate manner” any changes to international health-related measures and requirements. “Consumers face a maze of confusing, uncoordinated and fast-changing border entry rules that discourage them from traveling, causing economic hardship across those employed in the travel and tourism sector. According to our latest passenger survey, 70 per cent of recent travelers thought the rules were a challenge to understand,” said Walsh.

“The pandemic has put more than 46 million jobs, normally supported by aviation, at risk. By incorporating these latest WHO recommendations into their border opening strategies, states can begin to reverse the economic damage of the past 18 months and put the world on the road to recovery,” said Walsh.

Iata warned that the reliance on taxation as the solution for cutting aviation emissions in the EU’s ‘Fit for 55’ proposal is counter-productive to the goal of sustainable aviation. EU policy needs to support practical emission reduction measures such as incentives for Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) and modernization of air traffic management.

“To reduce emissions, we need governments to implement a constructive policy framework that, most immediately, focuses on production incentives for SAF and delivering the Single European Sky,” said Walsh.

“Aviation’s near-term vision is to provide sustainable, affordable air transport for all European citizens with SAF-powered fleets, operating with efficient air traffic management. We should all be worried that the EU’s big idea to decarbonize aviation is making jet fuel more expensive through tax. That will not get us to where we need to be. Taxation will destroy jobs. Incentivizing SAF will improve energy independence and create sustainable jobs. The focus must be on encouraging the production of SAF, and delivering the Single European Sky,” said Walsh. — issacjohn@khaleejtimes.com

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