5 OCTOBER 2020


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Article from BTNews 5 OCTOBER 2020

EU-wide Passenger Testing Protocol

In a in a very strong submission to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, aviation bodies ACI Europe, Airlines for Europe (A4E) and IATA, have presented a framework for how an EU-wide Testing Protocol for Travel (EU-TPT) could work. 

See also in this week's BTN ON THE SOAPBOX by Gatwick CEO Stewart Wingate

It follows up letters sent to the Commission President and Heads of State, as well as Health Ministers across Europe as 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. IATA figures show air traffic to, from and within Europe is down by 66.3% year to date. Latest figures from ACI Europe reveal that as of 27 September, passenger traffic in the EU had further plunged to -78%.   

New 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 seven million jobs. Nearly €450bn in economic activity will be lost. Urgent action is therefore required to prevent an even greater economic and employment catastrophe.

“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 letter highlights the continually worsening outlook for passenger demand along with cripplingly low forward bookings for the winter season – down -80% from 2019. The planning certainty and risk-based safety of a common testing protocol would give European countries an effective way to reduce transmission both in communities and during air travel whilst stimulating the economy.

The framework proposed is based on two overarching principles:

  • Quarantines must be replaced by testing prior to departure, based on an EU Testing Protocol for travel which is consistently applicable for passengers travelling across borders from high risk areas in the EU/Schengen space and from third countries.
  • Travel restrictions must be coordinated and based on common risk assessment.

How it could work: 

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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum

Richard Phillips, Medstead, ALTON

At last. I've been saying since the Spring that testing for Covid19 should be done PRE departure. If this comes about, then the airlines will get more sympathy from me.

Chris Pocock, Uxbridge, UK

While welcome, these suggestions will do little to help long-haul travel, since so many countries still restrict or ban entry by non-citizens.