Thursday, September 17, 2020

European Airline Representatives Appeal to National Governments to Digitise Covid Solution

Continent Wide Oversight is Required
Shipping News Feature

GERMANY – EUROPE – The representatives of more than ten national airline associations, the Boards of Airline Representatives (BARs) are urging governments to collaborate without further delay on developing and implementing an international digital border solution for air travellers. The bulk of air freight is normally of course carried in the belly holds of passenger aircraft and the paucity of services has serious implications for both sides of the business.

Their pressing appeal is addressed to the respective governments, as well as to the European Commission and the current German EU Council Presidency. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted that such a transnational, digital solution is required as an efficient and non-bureaucratic tool contributing to public health, as emphasized by the BARs. By facilitating the rapid tracing of potential chains of infection, it can support the responsible national authorities in taking appropriate and prompt action.

A harmonised, electronic solution would undoubtedly be considerably superior to the current, mainly manual, procedures in individual countries. The first promising solutions are already in place, for example in Spain, the United Kingdom and Greece. However the airlines say what is now urgently required is a coordinated political effort to ensure a high-performance digital platform that transcends national borders and achieves a more consistent passenger experience. Michael Hoppe, Secretary General BARIG commented:

“In order to meet the current challenges posed by Covid-19, cooperation between states is imperative. Unfortunately, travelling public are currently still experiencing cumbersome manual and uncoordinated processes. Therefore, the international community has to develop a concerted strategy, as we cannot face this global crisis single-handedly without coordination across national borders. Localised, national procedures are highly inefficient and particularly lack transparency. A standardised, digital solution is, accordingly, the way to go.”

The representatives of the BARs operating in Europe, including the executives from, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland, and the UK, are calling for a harmonised approach in other areas as well. Thus, in addition to the urgently needed digital solution, they are jointly campaigning for:

  • The joint travel impact assessment of the Covid-19 situation within the EU and globally by the respective ministries of the states and superordinate institutions, such as the European Commission, as well as coordinated action on that basis.
  • The coordinated implementation of the ‘Take-Off Guidance’ Aviation Health Safety protocol developed by ICAO, EASA and ECDC.
  • Clear and unambiguous information for passengers on possible measures, always in consultation with the travel industry.

Hoppe continued by appealing to national governments and the EU to support the introduction of an international digital solution, and insisting:

"Only by doing so can border restrictions be removed in the interest of both the people and companies. The scope of this issue must not be underestimated, as the reconstruction of air traffic is crucial for economic recovery in Europe and the world. From the international movement of goods, to visiting family and relatives, to business and vacation travel, air transport connects people and countries and benefits society as a whole.

“Furthermore, we are committed to implementing the ‘Take-Off Guidance’ protocol to ensure health protection in aviation. In this way, the currently uncoordinated individual measures and various disproportionate travel restrictions can be eliminated.”

Photo: BARIG courtesy of Pixabay.