Aviation sector calls for creation of EU pre-departure testing protocol


The aviation industry has called for the creation of a passenger testing regime to replace the use of Covid-19 quarantine measures in Europe.

A consortium of aviation associations have set out the common framework, which would require travellers to be tested for the virus before departure. The EU-wide Testing Protocol for Travel (EU-TPT) could re-establish freedom of movement in Europe in advance of the Christmas holiday season, say the associations ACI Europe (Airport Council International Europe), Airlines for Europe (A4E) and IATA submitted to the European Comission last week in the proposal to the European Commission.

This pre-departure testing would provide greater assurance and enable cross-border travellers to plan family reunions or vacations during the Christmas period, they hope.

The EU-TPT proposal follows a letter to European Commission President von der Leyen sent together with the wider travel and tourism sectors last month that calls for direct action to help the sector in Europe. In follow up letters sent to the Commission President and Heads of State, as well as Health Ministers across Europe last night, the industry associations set out their proposal for harmonised pre-departure testing from high-risk areas, describing the current situation of patchwork quarantine restrictions as “unsustainable”.

Aviation industry data confirms the worsening situation for the wider sector. IATA figures show air traffic to, from and within Europe is down by 66.3% year-to-date. The latest figures from ACI Europe reveal that as of  September 27, passenger traffic in the EU had plunged to -78%.

The latest research released by the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) on the impact of Covid-19 restrictions suggests the collapse of air traffic could result in a 52% drop in employment supported by aviation in Europe, equating to the loss of around 7 million jobs and nearly €450 billion (US$528 billion) in economic activity.

“We need to learn to live – and travel – with the virus”, says the letter. “Re-establishing the free movement of people and air connectivity across our continent in a safe way must be a priority”.

The proposed framework is based on replacing quarantines with testing prior to departure to be applicable for passengers travelling across borders from high risk areas in the EU / Schengen space and from third countries.

It also calls for travel restrictions to be coordinated and based on common risk assessments in Europe. This supports the risk assessment criteria and the common colour coding system / mapping of designated areas already proposed by the European Commission, but which is yet to be endorsed and fully implemented by EU States.

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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 20 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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