Airlines Urge Countries to Apply WHO Covid-19 Travel Management Proposals

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The global airlines industry is calling on governments to implement World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations for Covid-19 risk management and “not require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry”, among others.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said “freedom to travel across borders should not be limited to those who are able to be vaccinated”, adding that it supports governments’ efforts to open 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 re-open their borders and restore freedom of movement while managing the public health risks of Covid-19,” the association said.

Photo source: IATA

Photo source: IATA

Stressing the importance of implementing “coordinated, time-limited, risk-based, and evidence-based approaches for health measures in relation to international traffic”, IATA is encouraging states to comply with recommendations issued by WHO’s International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee on testing and risk management during the pandemic.

Other key points include

  • prioritizing vaccination for seafarers and air crews;
  • easing the financial burden on international travelers with regard to mandatory precautionary measures including testing, isolation/quarantine, and vaccination;
  • securing global standards for travel health credentials in order to avoid fraud and facilitate efficient passenger processing when travel scales up in reference to all forms of travel/vaccination certificates; and
  • agreeing on a digital standard for testing and vaccination documentation.

“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 IATA Director General Willie Walsh, adding that 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.”

“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.