Europe prepares for route ramp-up

IATA calls for the resumption of free movement within the EU.

The European Commission has called on member states to lift intra-EU travel restrictions from June 15 ahead of a progressive wider relaxation that would take effect after June 30.

The recommendation to gradually remove restrictions to free movement and lift internal border controls came in light of the improving COVID-19 situation in Europe and preventative measures being implemented by EU member states. 

“States must now follow the Commission and fully restore the free movement of people within the EU,” IATA regional VP for Europe Rafael Schvartzman said. “They also need to work hand in and to start lifting travel restrictions with the wider world, as per the risk-based and targeted approach set out by the Commission.”

In a joint statement, industry bodies IATA, Airlines for Europe (A4E) and airports representative ACI Europe said the return to travel is supported by a “comprehensive aviation health and safety protocol,” with “biosafety measures at every step of the passenger journey,” developed by EASA and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), in line with ICAO guidance.

“The aim was to allow travel and tourism to be relaunched safely in the summer months, as soon as governments and public health authorities open up their borders. We are confident that, providing individuals behave responsibly and abide by the measures being put in place by airports and airlines, passengers can return to the skies with confidence,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said. 

A4E managing director Thomas Reynaert called on EU governments to follow a coordinated and risk-based approach and urged the UK to urgently reconsider its “blanket quarantine.” 

“Mutual recognition of measures–based on the EASA-ECDC comprehensive guidelines–is the best and fastest way forward,” Reynaert said.

ACI Europe director general Olivier Jankovec urged governments to “play ball” and widen the relaxation to the rest of the world.

On June 15, ACI Europe announced 10 commitments to the public—based on the EASA/ECDC protocol —and 10 recommendations to policymakers. 

“These commitments include the pledge to fully implement national health safety guidelines, to enhance standards of cleaning and disinfection throughout airport premises, to encourage the use of touchless technology, biometrics and innovative solutions to reduce queues and to ensure clear and up-to-date communication on health and sanitary measures to passengers,” ACI Europe said.

Jankovec described the commitments and recommendations as “concrete, confident and unequivocal.”

“We’re ready to welcome back our passengers, and to play our part in the economic recovery of our society. We clearly ask of European policymakers at national and international level that they match our commitments with proportionate and harmonised actions,” he said.

Photo credit: Lufthansa