The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has urged governments to comply with recommendations on international travel from the World Health Organisation’s International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee on testing and risk management during the Covid-19 pandemic.
IATA said it believes that the freedom to travel across borders should not be limited to those who are able to be vaccinated. It does, however, support governments opening borders to those who have been vaccinated and that testing should also play a key role where vaccination is not possible.
Together — testing and vaccination — are key measures for states to safely reopen their borders and restore freedom of movement while managing the public health risks of Covid-19.
IATA strongly supported risk-based measures to safely manage international travel. Most scientists believe that Covid-19 will become endemic and that society will need to learn to live with the virus.
In line with this recommendation, IATA called on governments to work with the industry to establish plans to safely reconnect their people and economies via air transport based on clear benchmarks for reopening and testing/vaccination protocols to manage risks.
IATA said the air transport industry manages multiple risks — technical, natural, geopolitical — to maintain safe operations. Government-mandated public health measures to manage the risks of Covid-19 should not be a financial barrier to travel.
States agreed that the cost of mandatory measures such as testing should be borne by the government in Article 40 of the International Health Regulations. This should not be forgotten in a pandemic.
IATA strongly supported the recommendation to prioritize aircrew for vaccination. It will protect the crew and underpin efficient operations.
This is critically important during the crisis for global supply chains transporting vaccines, medicines and medical equipment required to combat the virus.
“If implemented, these recommendations will help governments manage the risks of Covid-19, keep their citizens safe and protect millions of livelihoods that are at risk,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director-General.
“The goal is to safely return to more normal lives, including the freedom to travel, while managing the risks of Covid-19 which are likely to be with us for some time.”
Walsh said airlines are experts at risk management. It underpins safe and reliable daily operations. Governments should tap into the airline industry’s capabilities to help them implement efficient measures for testing and vaccination that can supersede the blunt instrument of quarantine.
“That could safely move us towards a more normal world with the freedom to travel and the opportunity to earn a living in the sector,” he said.