IATA is urging states to comply with recommendations on international travel from the World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee on testing and risk management during the COVID-19 pandemic.
IATA highlighted the following recommendations for states:
- Do not require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry — The airline industry association said it believes that the freedom to travel across borders should not be limited to those who are able to be vaccinated. It does, however, support governments opening borders to those who have been vaccinated and that testing should also play a key role where vaccination is not possible. Together — testing and vaccination — are key measures for states to safely reopen their borders and restore freedom of movement while managing the public health risks of COVID-19.
- Implement coordinated, time-limited, risk-based, and evidence-based approaches for health measures in relation to international traffic — IATA strongly supports risk-based measures to safely manage international travel. Most scientists believe that COVID-19 will become endemic and that society will need to learn to live with the virus. The air transport industry manages multiple risks — technical, natural, geopolitical, etc. — to maintain safe operations. In line with this recommendation, IATA continues to call on governments to work with the industry to establish plans to safely reconnect their people and economies via air transport based on clear benchmarks for reopening and testing/vaccination protocols to manage risks.
- Reduce the financial burden on international travellers for the measures such as testing, isolation/quarantine, and vaccination, in accordance with Article 40 of the International Health Regulations — IATA firmly believes that government-mandated public health measures to manage the risks of COVID-19 should not be a financial barrier to travel. States agreed that the cost of mandatory measures such as testing should be borne by the government in Article 40 of the International Health Regulations. This should not be forgotten in a pandemic. With the cost of PCR testing at US$100 at the low-end and the requirement for multiple tests for a single journey, this could easily make flying unaffordable for individuals and families – reversing decades of progress to make the freedom to travel more accessible. The same applies to quarantine measures where mandated by governments.
Additional WHO recommendations that IATA highlighted included:
- Prioritizing vaccination for seafarers and air crews
- Standards for Digital Documentation
IATA’s director general, Willie Walsh said that: “Agreement on a digital standard for testing and vaccination documentation is a critical next step. Without globally recognized standards to prove that someone has been vaccinated or tested, the potential for frustrated travellers, fraudulent actors and overwhelmed border authorities is very real. Work needs to be accelerated or the eventual restart will be defeated by mountains of paper.”