Aviation groups are ramping up a campaign to replace onerous European quarantine measures with passenger testing ahead of the year-end holiday season.
Labeling the current patchwork of quarantine measure “unsustainable”, the International Air Transport Association has joined Airports Council International Europe and Airlines for Europe (A4E) to lobby for a European Union-wide testing protocol to replace quarantine.
Recent IATA figures showed the impact of the coronavirus on northern summer travel was worse than expected with full-year travel now expected to be down 66 percent compared to previous estimates of 63 percent.
ACI EUROPE figures have since indicated the situation has worsened with EU passenger traffic down 78 percent as of September 27 and this is expected to deepen to a fall of 80 percent over winter.
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 percent drop in employment supported by aviation in Europe, equating to the loss of around 7 million jobs.
IATA says almost €450 billion 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,” the aviation groups say in a joint letter. “Re-establishing the free movement of people and air connectivity across our continent in a safe way must be a priority”.
The aviation lobby groups are calling for quarantine to be replaced by pre-departure testing based on an EU-wide protocol that would be consistently applied to passengers traveling across borders from high-risk areas in the EU/Schengen space and from third countries.
IATA says public opinion research has established that 65 percent of travelers surveyed agree that quarantine should not be required for passengers who test negative for COVID-19.
It is also calling on travel restrictions to be coordinated and based on a common risk assessment with areas color-coded according to the level of infection.
Those from red areas would require off-airport testing certified by a health regulator prior to travel or would be tested at the airport, preferably before they enter the terminal.