ACI Europe (Airports Council International), the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Airlines for Europe (A4E), representing Europe’s airports and airlines, said on 12 June that they welcomed and “amplified” the European Commission’s call for the complete lifting on 15 June of remaining intra-EU travel restrictions, including quarantines put in place to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as its proposed approach for starting to phase out restrictions for travel to and from other countries as of 1 July.
The three aviation associations urged all EU and associated states to follow through on the commission’s advice, pointing to the comprehensive aviation health and safety protocol now in place, jointly developed by EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency) and the ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) and aligned with the global guidance of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
As the lifting of intra-European travel and border restrictions related to COVID-19 allows passenger traffic to resume, airports and airlines are implementing enhanced biosafety measures at every step of the passenger journey, making the airport and aircraft environments exceptionally sanitised and controlled public spaces.
The latter was on 12 June fully recognised by EASA – as the safety agency reiterated its support of the aviation industry’s restart. EASA especially emphasised the confidence that passengers can have in the health and safety measures in place throughout Europe.
“In close cooperation with ECDC, EASA produced comprehensive guidelines that set the foundation for a return to service for the aviation industry and recovery from this unprecedented crisis,” said EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky. “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.”
Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI Europe said: “The aviation industry has the safety of its passengers, staff and communities running through its DNA. As we all re-emerge from the peak of the pandemic, airports and airlines are right there at the forefront of ensuring that we can all kick-start our economies, and frankly our daily lives, with confidence and security.
“This is why it is essential that governments play ball and now fully lift the remaining restrictions to intra-Europe travel. They also need to follow the plan set out by the commission to start lifting restrictions with the rest of the world.”
Rafael Schvartzman, IATA’s regional vice president for Europe said: “Safety is the top priority. Health and industry experts have created the guidance needed for a safe re-start of aviation and preserve the livelihoods of 9.4 million jobs across the European Union.
“The commission’s recommendation to open the Schengen borders is based on this guidance. States must now follow the commission and fully restore the free movement of people within the EU as of next week. They also need to work hand-in-hand to start lifting travel restrictions with the wider world as per the risk-based and targeted approach set out by the commission.”
Thomas Reynaert, managing director of A4E, said “lifting border restrictions and health-related measures following a coordinated and risk-based approach is important to make travelling a smooth and enjoyable experience again. Mutual recognition of measures, based on the EASA-ECDC comprehensive guidelines, is the best and fastest way forward. We all want to see people enjoy air travel as they did before the coronavirus crisis. If governments coordinate their response, we are prepared to provide a confident and safe travel experience, as we have done before. These welcome developments also shine a light on the need for the UK to urgently reconsider its stance regarding the current blanket quarantine applying to anyone entering the country”.