EU Digital Covid Certificate approach poses ‘major operational risks’ to restart

By Luke Barras-hill |

Major air transport associations have warned of ‘unnecessary airport queues and longer processing times’ unless the 27 EU Member states coordinate more efficiently the introduction of the Digital Covid Certificate (DCC).

At least 10 different national approaches among EU bloc countries are under review ahead of the DCC implementation deadline on Thursday (1 July).

In a joint letter sent on Monday (28 June), Airlines for Europe (A4E), Airports Council International (ACI) Europe, European Regions Airline Association (ERA) and International Air Transport Association (IATA) have urged EU heads of state and government to harmonise standards and protocols to prevent DCC verification requests on arrival and duplication of document checks.

Trade associations representing Europe’s largest airports and airlines have long argued that a common, interoperable EU Digital Covid Certificate represents an important gateway to restoring free movement for EU citizens alongside the coordinated lifting of intra-EU travel restrictions.


The lack of cohesion on DCC integration and duplication of document checks pre-departure and on arrival has resulted in average check-in processing times increasing by 500% to 12 minutes per passenger [source: IATA], say the associations.

Such a scenario ‘threatens the success of this summer’s air travel restart and will undermine free movement of citizens across the EU’.

Among the measures outlined are for DCC and passenger location form verifications to take place digitally and well in advance of departure and ahead of arrival at the airport.

A state portal could allow national authorities to directly verify DCCs online that will in turn provide a signal such as a QR code to a passenger to present to an airline to obtain a boarding pass(es).

“As passenger traffic increases in the coming weeks, the risk of chaos at European airports is real,” said the four associations in the letter.

“While preparations for the implementation of the DCC are well underway at national level, the initial overview of the way in which such implementation is proceeding across the EU has revealed a worrying patchwork of approaches and solutions being developed – which would result in the above-mentioned essential prerequisites not being met.”

Aviation is not expected to restore its travel volumes before 2024, according to the latest forecast from Eurocontrol.

Passenger traffic across the EU/EEA/Swiss airport network was down by -77%3 in early June [source: ACI Europe] compared to pre-pandemic levels.

“With the peak summer travel season upon us, the EU thankfully now has a number of tools and measures available to enable and support the restarting of air connectivity, alongside travel and tourism,” added the associations.

“We need member states to urgently implement these tools in a harmonised and effective manner. We view these as essential prerequisites to travel, to avoid long passenger queues and waiting times which would create new health hazards and inevitably result in operational issues for airports and airlines.”

To read the letter in full, click here.

All images courtesy of ACI Europe.


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