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Covid-19: Aviation, Tourism Sectors Not Happy with EU Guidance on Travel Restrictions

Photo source: Prague Airport

Photo source: Prague Airport

Aviation and tourism bodies have expressed their disappointment with the EU’s guidance to member states on taking a coordinated approach to the restriction of free movement in response to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

EU ministers on Tuesday agreed to coordinate better on Covid-19 travel measures with a 3-common criteria, a colour-coded map and a framework for possible restrictions.

However, the aviation and tourism sectors find the recommendation “not enough” especially as it does not propose to replace quarantines by testing, effectively meaning that borders remain closed.

Aviation bodies: The recommendation is a ‘failure’

Photo Source: IATA

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), ACI EUROPE and Airlines for Europe (A4E), although the recommendation “sets out some guidance to Member States”, it falls short of encouraging a restart of travel through effective coordination and proportionate, predictable and non-discriminatory measures.

“The aviation sector has branded it a failure… The current lack of coordination between member states has killed the nascent recovery of travel and tourism, thus jeopardising millions of jobs associated with the sector,” they said in an announcement.

The three aviation bodies have strongly pushed for a common pre-departure COVID-19 testing framework to replace quarantines for passengers travelling from high-risk areas, in order to re-establish freedom of movement in Europe. However, the recommendation does not propose replacing quarantines by testing.

Photo Source: IATA

Among other things, the aviation bodies said the recommendation “leaves the door open” for member states to refuse entry to citizens travelling from other member states and also fails to harmonise the rules applicable for cross-border and domestic travel.

“Expectations for an effective solution now rest with the European Commission, which has charged EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency) and ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) with the development of an EU Testing Protocol for Travel,” IATA, ACI EUROPE and A4E said.

NET: Further work is required for EU free movement

Photo source: A4E

Photo source: A4E

On its part, NET said the EU recommendation “is good but does not go far enough” as it “is very vague” with regards to the application of travel restrictions and requirements.

NET is the network of representative trade associations from the private sector in European tourism. Its members include CLIA Europe, ECTAA, EFCO&HPA, ETOA, EUROGITES, HOTREC, IAAPA and IRU.

NET called on the EU institutions to revise the recommendation with a view to addressing the problematic areas by defining clear rules on which travel restrictions and obligations apply going from one colour-coded area to another; and replacing quarantine requirements by testing for those travellers coming from risk areas.

Moreover, both the aviation and the tourism sectors underline that information on new travel restrictions should be published 5 days before they come into effect, as proposed by the Commission.

According to the EU’s recommendation, member states have only committed to publishing information on new measures 24 hours prior to their entry into force.

“The recommendation does not create a sufficient window of certainty for travellers,” IATA said.

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About the Author
Nikos is Greek-American born in New York, USA, and has lived in Greece for over 30 years. He is the managing editor of Greece's leading monthly travel and tourism guide, the Greek Travel Pages (GTP) since June 2008 and of news site GTP Headlines since its launch in September 2012. Nikos has also served as international press officer for the City of Athens and for the mayor. He has a degree in Mass Media and Communications, specializing in Journalism. Nikos is a native English speaker and speaks Greek fluently.

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