The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is encouraged by comments of Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission (EC), that the EU will grant unrestricted access to vaccinated travelers from the US.
“This is a step in the right direction. It gives hope to people for so many reasons—to travel, to reunite with loved ones, to develop business opportunities or to get back to work. To fulfil that hope, details of the EC’s intentions are essential. To be fully prepared, it is imperative that the EC works with the industry so that airlines can plan within the public health benchmarks and timelines that will enable unconditional travel for those vaccinated, not just from the US but from all countries using vaccines that are approved by the European Medicines Association. Equally critical will be clear, simple and secure digital processes for vaccination certificates. The IATA Travel Pass can help industry and governments manage and verify vaccination status, as it does with testing certificates. But we are still awaiting the development of globally recognized standards for digital vaccine certificates. As a first step, it is vital that the EU accelerates adoption of the European Green Certificate. President von der Leyen’s comments should add urgency to this work,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.
While IATA welcomes President von der Leyen’s comments, the freedom to travel should not exclude those who are unable to be vaccinated. The presentation of negative COVID-19 test results should also facilitate travel. Central to this is acceptance by EU governments of rapid antigen tests that the Commission has approved for use and which fulfil the critical criteria of effective, convenient and affordable.
“The freedom to travel must not be restricted to only those who have access to vaccinations. Vaccines are not the only way to safely re-open borders. Government risk-models should also include COVID-19 testing,” said Walsh.