Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Airline Lobby Strongly Supports a Vaccine Certificate to Free Up Travel

Not Everybody However Agrees
Shipping News Feature

GREECE – WORLDWIDE – With continued pressures on the airline industry due to the continuing pandemic, the latest initiative from Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to agree a common digital European Covid-19 vaccination certificate, to enable those who are vaccinated to travel freely within Europe without Covid-19 testing, has received the support of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

In an open letter to Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, and copied to key policy-makers across the EU, IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac called on EU States to coordinate a policy that would see Europe safely gain the economic and social benefits of renewed freedom of movement, beginning with those who are vaccinated.

The Greek proposal is for a harmonised vaccination certificate that could contribute ‘to the re-establishment of mobility on a global scale, which is the foundation for re-establishing economic activity to pre-crisis levels.’ Supporters say the requirement for a harmonised safe aviation restart is more urgent than ever in the face of renewed lockdowns and travel restrictions across the world.

As the virus eventually comes under control, testing capacities improve and the vaccinated population grows, de Juniac stressed the need for governments to prepare for re-establishing the freedom of movement with well-coordinated planning. That planning should use the most effective combination of vaccination and testing capabilities. The IATA Director General commented:

”Prime Minister Mitsotakis’ initiative should be urgently adopted by the Commission and all member states. Vaccination is a fundamental key to safely reopening borders and stimulating economic recovery. A pan-European mutually recognised vaccination certificate would be an important step towards giving governments the confidence to safely open their borders, and passengers the confidence to fly without the barrier of quarantine.

“We are in very dark days of this pandemic. But the tough measures taken combined with accelerating vaccination programs must give us hope that we can safely re-establish the freedom of movement. That will save jobs, ease mental anguish, re-connect families and revive the economy. To do this safely and efficiently, planning is key.

”Prime Minister Mitsotakis’s proposal for vaccine certificates will be a key enabler. Progress on eliminating or reducing quarantines can be made with testing protocols. But what we need now is for governments to start working together much more effectively. Unilateral government actions were able to quickly dismantle global connectivity. Re-building will need coordination.”

The EU Heads of State meet on Thursday 21 January and Prime Minister Mitsotakis’ proposal will be on the agenda. IATA says it is hoped they will direct the Commission to take action and develop a common certification. Ursula von der Leyen has said in interviews that she supports the idea of a common vaccination certificate whereas Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has rejected the proposal saying a certificate should be for ‘medical reasons, not travel’ and that it would be ‘divisive within Europe’.