In a joint statement from the airport associations ICA and the airlines IATA, WAS Y A4E, the airline industry recalls that the new guidelines confirm that air travelers account for less than 1% of all detected COVID-19 cases and do not increase the virus transmission rate.
The CEO of ACI Europe, Olivier Jankovecstates that “these recommendations unequivocally show that quarantines are essentially policy-driven measures, not risk-based, unrelated to what is actually needed to safeguard public health.”
Air travelers represent less than 1% of all detected COVID-19 cases
It adds that “quarantines do not pass the proportionality test, a key principle of EU law, especially since there are no equivalent measures at land borders. This has resulted in unprecedented limitations on freedom of movement and the freedom to provide services. “
For this reason, it makes on behalf of commercial aviation “an appeal to national governments to immediately repeal quarantines and restore freedom of movement for European citizens.”
The statement notes that “a more harmonized and coordinated approach between EU Member States, the European Economic Area (EEA) and the UK is essential to increase clarity and predictability for citizens and businesses following the latest recommendation of the Council of the EU. This is essential for the recovery of the sector. “
For exceptional cases
The EASA / ECDC Guidelines consider that 14-day quarantines are effective only in the “exceptional situation” in which a country has achieved full control over the virus and reduced transmission levels to almost zero, and only then for travelers arriving from countries where the virus is still active.
In addition to the data presented by the aforementioned Guidelines, other analyzes confirm, according to the airline industry, the absence of a correlation between passenger traffic and prevalence rates at the national level:
- ACI Europe’s analysis of airport passenger data in Q3 2020 unequivocally rejects any relationship between air travel and increased transmission rates of COVID-19. The slight increase in air passenger traffic during this period was shown not to have a statistically significant relationship with the COVID-19 test positivity rate, based on aviation, public health and community mobility data. The ACI Europe article can be found here.
- Similarly, the Oxera1 study confirmed that the risk of importing infections on international travel should be assessed in relation to national infection levels. It showed that of the weekly volumes of 409,800 passengers coming from the EU to the UK only 0.01% of air travelers were expected to be infectious and transmit COVID-19 in the UK population. This is the equivalent of one contagious person for every 10,000 travelers.
- McMaster HealthLabs in Canada has also released its interim report on its study of COVID-19 in arriving international passengers, again supporting the figure that 99% of passengers were negative. This, the labs say, is a powerful tool for making “science-based policy decisions” and rejecting quarantines as a relevant approach to containment. Airlines and airports continue to believe that rapid testing of passengers traveling between high- and low-risk areas can contribute to and support the early detection of cases among asymptomatic travelers.
European air passenger traffic has been one of the most affected by restrictions due to the pandemic when falling 89% in European airports. To date, 102 airports in Europe, accounting for 47% of passenger traffic on the continent, have built test facilities under the supervision of their competent aviation and health authorities.
Air traffic has plummeted 89% due to restrictions
These test facilities have allowed several airlines and airports to propose “COVID-19 free flights” and quarantine-free air corridors on certain air routes, including the most recent one between Italy and the United States, under a test protocol for air travelers. This demonstrates the critical role that testing can play in re-establishing connectivity.
On this point, the CEO of Airlines for Europe (A4E), Thomas Reynaert. It is of the opinion that “rapid tests using the latest available technologies and meeting the detection and sensitivity criteria established by the ECDC can help restore predictability, rekindle passenger confidence and thus restore air connectivity for passengers. European passengers “.
For these reasons, Europe’s aviation associations urge European States to work together bilaterally to replicate these initiatives and develop more air corridors without quarantine.