IATA: Jab or a test should reopen travel

GENEVA, 28 April 2021: The International Air Transport Association says Europe’s decision to open its borders to vaccinated travellers from the US is a step in the right direction.

IATA praised the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen’s announcement but added it should not exclude travellers who could not be vaccinated, and Covid-19 testing should remain on the table.

“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,” said IATA’s director- general Willie Walsh. “To fulfil that hope, details of the EC’s intentions are essential.

“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.

He pointed out that it was critical that simple and secure digital processes for vaccination certificates should be in place, adding that the “IATA Travel Pass can help industry and governments manage and verify vaccination status, as it does with testing certificates.”

While IATA welcomed the EC President’s assurances, it warned that 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.

“The freedom to travel must not be restricted to only those who have access to vaccinations. Vaccines are not the only way to safely reopen borders. Government risk-models should also include Covid-19 testing,” said Walsh.