Airline associations Iata and the Board of Airline Representatives in the UK (BAR UK) have proposed a ‘Strategic Pathway to Re-opening International Aviation’ ahead of Prime Minister Boris Johnson providing a ‘roadmap’ for lifting lockdown on Monday.
The aviation groups’ today outlined a process for restoring travel, suggesting the government move through successive levels of reduced restrictions applied to different categories of destinations.
BAR UK and Iata suggest the government needs to “consider how a growing number of vaccinated passengers reduces the risk profile of travel”.
They also suggest: “Mandatory pre-departure testing should be maintained as the ongoing primary measure and post-arrival restrictions [be] phased out.”
And the organisations argue for the reintroduction of a travel corridors policy “that would allow a quicker de-escalation of restrictions between specific country pairs”.
Perhaps more contentiously, they also propose that people who have tested positive for Covid and recovered “could be considered in the same manner as vaccinated or tested passengers”.
The paper proposes moving through a succession of levels of progressively reduced travel restrictions, down from the current high level of restrictions (Level 4) through high to moderate (Level 3), moderate to low (Level 2) and low (Level 1), just one level above normal operations.
Each level is applied to three categories of destination –those where there are travel corridors in place, those on the government’s high-risk ‘red list’, and all others.
The paper suggests travel corridors be reintroduced at Level 3 “as soon as feasible”. This would see the retention of pre-departure testing for all arrivals but removal of quarantine for arrivals from travel corridor destinations.
The government might, at this stage, also “consider whether to exempt passengers with proof of vaccination from pre-departure testing”.
The organisations add: “As part of lifting restrictions, government should also review Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) travel advice so it is consistent with the ability of passengers to travel with a testing and vaccinations scheme in place.”
They argue “the myriad different government regimes, testing requirements and forms” currently in place are “hugely challenging”.
Instead, they say: “Governments need to work with industry on how to record vaccination records for travel purposes. To facilitate this, it is essential governments quickly develop a standardised vaccine certificate.
“Operators are already working on technology solutions and there is a risk that they are delivered faster than government pace.
“It is vital that governments quickly support, evaluate and adopt the digital health wallet applications being developed by a number of providers, including the Iata Travel Pass product.”
BAR UK and Iata urge the government to begin “an urgent round of industry engagement to develop and implement a pathway”.
Dale Keller, BAR UK chief executive, said “It is essential we put to best use the learnings of science, experience and hindsight that was lacking as governments worldwide applied inconsistent and poorly aligned measures on international travel.”
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