Airports Council International Europe has released a statement in which it expressed “regret regarding the actions of a number of States within the EU and globally for unilaterally imposing health-related travel requirements including systematic pre-departure or on-arrival testing of travellers from China”.

EU countries including France, Italy and Spain have announced plans for either pre-departure or on arrival testing for travellers from China, and travellers on direct flights from China to the UK will be required to take pre-departure tests from January 5.

The move follows the easing of travel restrictions by Chinese officials, at a time when Covid-19 cases are soaring in the country.

China to remove Covid quarantine rules for inbound travellers from January 8

But ACI Europe said that “unilateral actions are at odds with all the experience and evidence gained over the past three years”, adding that “The ineffectiveness of international travel restrictions in preventing the spread of Covid-19 and its multiple Variants of Concern (VOCs) has been unequivocally recognised by both the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO)”.

The association also said that testing travellers from China, and/or imposing other restrictions for travellers from the country, had been deemed by the ECDC to be “neither scientifically justified nor risk based”.

ACI Europe said that the focus should be on increasing genomic sequencing to be able to identify possible new Covid-19 variants and related surveillance, which can be achieved by means including the testing of wastewater from airports rather than testing of individual travellers.

Commenting on the news Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI Europe, said:

“We are once again plunging back into a patchwork of unjustified and uncoordinated travel restrictions, which have no basis in scientific fact.

“Clearly we still have to learn the painful lessons of the past years. These travel restrictions do not work and current arrangements for EU coordination have failed once again.”