Aviation bodies A4E (Airlines for Europe), ACI Europe and ERA (European Regions Airline Association) have issued a joint letter to EU Heads of State and ministers, warning of a “make it or break it moment” for the industry this summer.
The letter also called for EU Digital Green Certificates to begin being issued “by the end of June at the very latest”.
Proposals for a certificate to facilitate free movement within the EU were unveiled in March, and last week France became the first EU country to introduce a digital travel certificate, with trials of the TousAntiCovid app.
But the signatories of the letter said that although they were “relieved and encouraged to see the legislative process being fast-tracked”, they warned that “this is no guarantee that the Digital Green Certificates will be either implemented or become operational,” adding that “this rests in the hands of individual countries and their plans largely remain unclear to the industry”.
“As one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic and with an essential role in kick-starting societal and economic recovery – aviation stands ready to deliver a safe and effective resumption of travel,” said the letter.
“Summer 2021 represents a make it or break it moment, with millions of EU tourism jobs supported by aviation and the wider recovery of the sector hanging on the line. Visibility across ongoing work is urgently needed, and target dates must be both set and shared as early as possible – to establish the state of readiness of each EU/EEA country and Switzerland.”
The letter referred to a technical report recently issued by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) which provides new guidance “explicitly raising the possibility of waiving testing and quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers”.
The calls follow new data showing a “deepening crisis” in the aviation sector, with first quarter passenger traffic across the European airport network down 81.7 per cent compares to the same period in 2019.
This represents a worsening of fourth quarter 2020 figures, which were down 79.2 per cent.
The letter also said air connectivity “keeps declining”, with Europe having list over 7,500 air routes during April, compared to 6,663 in January.