The industry’s vision to address the complexity is outlined in the newly released policy paper: From Restart to Recovery: A Blueprint for Simplifying Travel.
“As governments are establishing processes to re-open borders, in line with what they agreed in the Ministerial Declaration of the ICAO High Level Conference of COVID-19, the Blueprint will help them with good practices and practical considerations. Over the next months we need to move from individual border openings to the restoration of a global air transport network that can reconnect communities and facilitate economic recovery,” said Conrad Clifford, IATA’s Deputy Director General.
The Blueprint aims to facilitate the efficient ramping-up of global connectivity. “We must have processes in place to safely and efficiently manage the ramping-up of international travel as borders re-open. With over 18 months of pandemic operational experience and traveler feedback we know that a laser-focus on simplicity, predictability, and practicality is essential. That is not the reality today. Over 100,000 COVID-19 related measures have been implemented by governments worldwide. This complexity is a barrier to global mobility that is exacerbated by the inconsistencies these measures have created among states,” said Clifford.
In terms of health protocols, key recommendations include:
- Removing all travel barriers (including quarantine and testing) for those fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine.
- Enabling quarantine-free travel for non-vaccinated travelers with a negative pre-departure antigen test result.
Digital solutions to process heath credentials are essential. The management of travel health credentials (vaccination or testing certificates) should be handled digitally and enable travelers to complete the process in advance so that they can arrive at the airport ready-to-travel. This will facilitate automated check-in processes, reducing airport queuing and wait-times.
Key recommendations include:
- A digital health credential to record health status. The European Digital Covid Certificate (EU DCC) is widely accepted and a recognized good practice, with 22 non-EU States currently having equivalence agreements with the EU DCC.
- A digital web portal or application through which passengers can present their travel health credentials directly to the respective governments for verification. Aruba’s web portal and Canada’s ArriveCAN app are good examples from which other countries can learn, and Australia’s Digital Passenger Declaration platform promises to further streamline processes. IATA Travel Pass can integrate with government solutions to assist with data collection and verification. IATA is working with several governments, including Australia to ensure a joined-up process,
- A web-platform providing clear explanations of entry requirements tailored to the individual passenger’s residence status, health status, travel history and any other required variable. The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health Travelcheck portal is a good practice example for its ease of use, simplicity and clarity.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 measures must be proportionate to risk levels with a continuous review process.
Key recommendations include:
- Publish the risk assessments that are used to make decisions relating to international travel to enhance predictability for both consumers and industry
- Review existing processes and apply “sunset” clauses to public health measures to ensure that they are only in place for as long as needed
- Develop a roadmap for restoring aviation connectivity in the post-pandemic phase.
“Travel is important. Pre-pandemic some 88 million livelihoods were directly connected to aviation. And the inability to travel freely by air has impacted the quality of life for billions of people. We know that travelers feel confident with the implementation of the COVID-19 safety measures. But they have clearly told us that the current travel experience needs to improve with better information, simpler processing and digital solutions. The Ministerial Declaration of the ICAO HLCC aligns with those of the G20 and the G7 in confirming that governments want to restore the social and economic benefits of global mobility. For that, industry and government must work together with a common vision of processes that are convenient for travelers, effective for governments and practical for the industry,” said Clifford.