Airline and airport associations have warned that a fragmented approach to the EU Digital Covid certificate “will undermine smooth summer travel for EU passengers”.
The certificate to facilitate free movement within the EU is set to be implemented on July 1, but groups representing Europe’s largest airlines and airports say that there are currently ten different national approaches under review across the bloc.
Aviation bodies including A4E (Airlines for Europe), ACI Europe, ERA (European Regions Airline Association) and IATA (The International Air Transport Association) have issued a joint letter to EU Heads of State warning that “the current state of play threatens the success of this summer’s air travel restart and will undermine free movement of citizens across the EU.”
The letter also addresses the concern that “duplicate checks and lack of verification tools” will cause queues at the airport and longer processing times. It therefore urges member states to develop online national portals to process and verify passengers’ passes digitally from home before they arrive at the airport, and to ensure that these integrate the verification of the passenger locator form as well.
Last month IATA warned of eight-hour processing times at airports unless governments move quickly to adopt digitised solutions for Covid-19 checks.
The joint letter states:
“With the peak summer travel season upon us, the EU thankfully now has a number of tools and measures available to enable and support the restarting of air connectivity, alongside travel and tourism. We need Member States to urgently implement these tools in a harmonised and effective manner. We view these as essential prerequisites to travel, to avoid long passenger queues and waiting times which would create new health hazards and inevitably result in operational issues for airports and airlines.”
According to the latest Euro Control forecast, aviation is not expected to make a full recovery before 2024 at the earliest, with ACI Europe revealing that passenger traffic across the EU/EEA/Swiss airport network was down by 77 per cent in early June compared to pre-pandemic levels.
Nonetheless, research from IATA shows that 61 per cent of Europeans’ surveyed want to travel between now and the next two months, and passengers support digitalisation processes with 89 per cent wanting globally standardised Covid-19 test or vaccination certifications.