IATA has welcomed moves by France and Spain to relax border restrictions this week, as it continues to lament the lack of harmonised measures to facilitate a wider reopening of international air travel markets.

“It’s encouraging to see more European countries taking steps to reopen borders,” says IATA director general Willie Walsh. “They recognise the opportunity created by vaccination and are making travel more affordable with the use of antigen testing.”

IATA director general

Source: IATA

Walsh: European moves are encouraging

On 7 June, Spain opened its borders to most vaccinated travellers from around the world – even allowing people from “low-risk” countries to enter without restrictions – while France implemented its own set of guidelines around vaccinated visitors two days later.

The airline industry association notes, however, its “ongoing disappointment at the failure to implement harmonised measures across Europe and deep frustration at the lack of coordination among governments worldwide for a data-driven, risk-managed approach to re-establishing the freedom to travel”.

It argues that a consistent approach to reopening borders in Europe is necessary for the implementation of the European Union’s digital Covid-19 certificate from 1 July. It adds that governments globally should act to ensure such certificates can be integrated into apps such as the IATA Travel Pass, “in order to relieve pressure on airports and at borders from more complex passenger processing as the number of travellers ramps up”.

Walsh further highlights issues with individual countries’ moves to reopen international travel not necessarily being reciprocal.

“Connectivity needs countries at both ends of the journey to be open,” the IATA chief states. “Many of the world’s largest air travel markets, such Australia, China, the UK, Japan and Canada remain essentially closed with no clear plans to guide a reopening.

“Data should help these and other countries to introduce targeted policies that keep populations safe while moving towards a normality in a world with Covid-19 for some time to come.”

IATA reiterates its view that the upcoming G7 Leaders’ Summit on 11-13 June provides an opportunity for governments to “kick-start a data-driven coordinated approach to re-establishing global air connectivity”.