IATA and ACI urge EU states to lift travel restrictions as new regime kicks in

By Luke Barras-hill |

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Airports Council International (ACI) Europe have called on European governments to remove all travel restrictions for fully vaccinated/recovered individuals holding a valid EU Digital Covid Certificate.

The calls come as a new intra-EU/EEA travel regime entered into force this week (see infographic at footer. Source: European Council).

Effective 1 February, the health status of those travelling within the EU should now be taken into account, rather than the epidemiological situation at a regional level.

This followed an EU Council recommendation on 25 January on a coordinated approach to facilitating safe travel in light of the rapid uptake of vaccines and roll-out of the EU Digital Covid Certificate.

Under the recommendation, all travellers with a valid certificate should be exempt from testing and quarantine/self isolation.

Olivier Jankovec, Director General, ACI Europe.


“The new regime for intra-EU/EEA travel is right to focus on a ‘person-based approach’ and to recognise that both vaccinated and recovered travellers should not be subjected to any restriction,” commented Olivier Jankovec, Director General, ACI Europe.

“But having common EU regimes has so far not prevented states from going their own way. This must stop. We now have further proof – travel restrictions do have a significant effect – but it’s not on public health, it’s on economic stability and livelihoods. In short: they are causing more harm than good.”

In view of the new regime and based on available data, ACI and IATA has urged those countries (Austria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Lithuania and Malta – for a map of travel restrictions courtesy of ACI Europe, click here) that deviate from the common EU framework to align with it as a matter of urgency.

Citing independent research from Oxera and Edge Health on the impact of travel restrictions linked to Omicron in Italy and Finland, ACI and IATA flag what they view as inefficient travel restrictions imposed by European countries in mitigating against the risks to public health posed by Covid-19.

The analysis suggests pre-departure testing is likely to be ‘ineffective’ at stopping or even limiting the spread of Omicron, with testing restrictions imposed by Italy and Finland on 16 December and 28 December 2021, respectively, on arrivals travellers having ‘no distinguishable difference to transmission of Omicron cases in those countries’.

In turn, the impact of the restrictions – in particular limiting free movement of people – ‘resulted in significant and unnecessary economic hardship, not just for the travel and tourism sectors and their workforce, but for the whole European economy’.

Imposing restrictions earlier would not have stopped the spread of Omicron or limited it in Italy and Finland, the research suggests, adding that variants are already in circulation ahead of detection which is why the World Health Organization and European Center for Disease Prevention and Control consider travel restrictions ineffective.


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