Governments need simple, predictable and practical measures to facilitate the ramping-up of international travel as borders re-open, said the International Air Transport Association (IATA) on Tuesday (Nov. 23).
It’s a recommendation IATA has alluded to before.
Specifically, the association is urging governments to focus on three key areas in travel’s recovery:
- Simplified health protocols
- Digital solutions to process health credentials
- COVID-19 measures proportionate to risk levels with a continuous review process
The industry’s vision to overcome the pandemic’s complexity is outlined a new policy paper: From Restart to Recovery: A Blueprint for Simplifying Travel.
“As governments are establishing processes to re-open borders, in line with what they agreed in the Ministerial Declaration of the ICAO High Level Conference of COVID-19, the Blueprint will help them with good practices and practical considerations. Over the next months we need to move from individual border openings to the restoration of a global air transport network that can reconnect communities and facilitate economic recovery,” said Conrad Clifford, IATA’s deputy director general.
The Blueprint aims to facilitate the efficient ramping-up of global connectivity.
“We must have processes in place to safely and efficiently manage the ramping-up of international travel as borders re-open. With over 18 months of pandemic operational experience and traveler feedback we know that a laser-focus on simplicity, predictability and practicality is essential. That is not the reality today. Over 100,000 COVID-19 related measures have been implemented by governments worldwide. This complexity is a barrier to global mobility that is exacerbated by the inconsistencies these measures have created among states,” said Clifford.
On simplified health protocols, the recommendations include:
Remove all travel barriers (including quarantine and testing) for those fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine.
Enable quarantine-free travel for non-vaccinated travellers with a negative pre-departure antigen test result.
These recommendations are supported by public opinion research of travellers which, among several findings, revealed that 80 per cent believe that vaccinated people should be able to travel freely and 81 per cent believe that testing before travel is an acceptable alternative to vaccination.
Let’s get digital
Travel health credentials (vaccination or testing certificates) should be handled digitally and enable travellers to complete the process in advance so that they can arrive at the airport ready-to-travel.
“This will facilitate automated check-in processes, reducing airport queuing and wait times,” IATA says.
The European Digital COVID Certificate (EU DCC) is already a recognized “good practice,” IATA says.
A digital web portal or app through which passengers can present their health credentials directly to border officials is also advised.
IATA cites Aruba’s web portal and Canada’s ArriveCAN app as “good examples” from which other countries can learn from.
The IATA Travel Pass can also integrate with government solutions to assist with data collection and verification.
Another recommendation is a web-platform that provides clear explanations of entry requirements tailored to the individual passenger’s residence status, health status, travel history and any other required variable.
“The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health Travelcheck portal is a good practice example for its ease of use, simplicity and clarity,” IATA says.
These recommendations are supported by public opinion research of travellers which revealed that 88 per cent support standardized vaccination and testing certificates and 87 per cent will share personal health data via an app if it speeds up processing time.
A roadmap for restoring connectivity
Among several suggestions, IATA calls on governments to publish risk assessments that are used to make decisions relating to international travel “to enhance predictability for both consumers and industry.”
In addition, governments need to produce “a roadmap for restoring aviation connectivity” for a post-pandemic world, IATA says.
IATA’s public opinion research of travellers shows that 87 per cent believe that governments must find the right balance in managing COVID-19 and enabling an economic recovery.
As well, 86 per cent believe that borders should be progressively re-opened as vaccination coverage and testing capacity grow.
“Travel is important. Pre-pandemic, some 88 million livelihoods were directly connected to aviation. And the inability to travel freely by air has impacted the quality of life for billions of people,” Clifford said.
“We know that travellers feel confident with the implementation of the COVID-19 safety measures. But they have clearly told us that the current travel experience needs to improve with better information, simpler processing and digital solutions.”
“The Ministerial Declaration of the ICAO HLCC aligns with those of the G20 and the G7 in confirming that governments want to restore the social and economic benefits of global mobility.”
“For that, industry and government must work together with a common vision of processes that are convenient for travellers, effective for governments and practical for the industry.”