GENEVA, 28 April 2021: The International Air Transport Association says Europe’s decision to open its borders to vaccinated travellers from the US is a step in the right direction.

IATA praised the European Commission president Ursula von
der Leyen’s announcement but added it should not exclude travellers who could
not be vaccinated, and Covid-19 testing should remain on the table.

“This is a step in the right direction. It gives hope to people for so many reasons – to travel, to reunite with loved ones, to develop business opportunities or to get back to work,” said IATA’s director- general Willie Walsh. “To fulfil that hope, details of the EC’s intentions are essential.

“It is imperative that the EC works with the industry so
that airlines can plan within the public health benchmarks and timelines that
will enable unconditional travel for those vaccinated, not just from the US but
from all countries using vaccines that are approved by the European Medicines

He pointed out that it was critical that simple and secure
digital processes for vaccination certificates should be in place, adding that
the “IATA Travel Pass can help industry and governments manage and verify
vaccination status, as it does with testing certificates.”

While IATA welcomed the EC President’s assurances, it warned
that travel should not exclude those who are unable to be vaccinated. The
presentation of negative COVID-19 test results should also facilitate travel.
Central to this is acceptance by EU governments of rapid antigen tests that the
Commission has approved for use.

“The freedom to travel must not be restricted to only
those who have access to vaccinations. Vaccines are not the only way to safely
reopen borders. Government risk-models should also include Covid-19
testing,” said Walsh.