Airlines and airports have urged EU / EEA and UK Governments to abolish quarantine measures and other travel restrictions immediately as EASA / EDC guidelines confirm the ineffectiveness of these measures.

The appeal was made after EASA and the European Centre for Disease Prevention & Control (ECDC) published new recommendations, rejecting these measures’ use in the current state given that virus transmission is widespread already.

In its guidelines titled ‘Guidelines for COVID-19 testing and quarantine of air travellers: Addendum to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol’, EASA / ECDC stated that air travellers do not increase the rate of virus transmission as they account for less than 1% of all detected Covid-19 cases.

ACI EUROPE director general Olivier Jankovec said: “These guidelines unequivocally show quarantines to be essentially politically driven, non-risk-based measures, which bear no relation to what is actually needed to safeguard public health. As such, quarantines fail the test of proportionality, a key principle of EU law, particularly since there are no equivalent measures at land borders.

“This has resulted in unprecedented limitations to the freedom of movement and the freedom to provide services. We call on national governments to immediately abolish their quarantine restrictions and restore freedom of movement for European citizens.”

As per the guidelines, 14-day quarantines are effective only in an ‘exceptional situation’ wherein a country has attained full control in reducing transmission levels close to zero.

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Airlines for Europe (A4E) managing director Thomas Reynaert said: “Rapid testing which utilises the latest technologies available and meets the high sensitivity and sensibility criteria established by ECDC can help restore predictability, reignite passenger confidence and thus re-establish flight connectivity for European passengers.”

European Regions Airline Association (ERA) director general Montserrat Barriga said: “Testing technologies are evolving quickly, and we stand ready to work with EASA, the ECDC and national governments to implement the most efficient and effective methods to get Europe moving again.”

Europe IATA regional vice-president Rafael Schvartzman said: “Rapid testing of passengers for Covid-19 opens the door to restarting air travel by eliminating quarantine. And the public agrees: some 65% of travellers surveyed suggest quarantine should not apply to passengers who have tested negative.

“The EASA / ECDC protocol makes it clear that quarantine is not an effective measure in the present circumstances. And it is important that the protocol should also be applied to remove the temporary travel restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU from third countries.”

Due to the pandemic, European air passenger traffic recently plunged to -89% at EU / EEA / Swiss and UK airports.

Presently, nearly 102 airports across Europe, accounting for 47% of passenger traffic on the continent, have deployed testing facilities.