Twenty five tourism bodies and unions across Europe have joined forces to call for testing to replace quarantine restrictions to save the livelihoods of 27 million working in travel.
In an open letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the groups – which represent over 5,000 member companies and their workers – say a continued lack of co-ordination and diverging travel restrictions as crippling their business.
The letter is signed by representatives from across the tourism and travel sector and their workers, including airlines, airports, railways, ground handlers, caterers, travel retailers, air navigation service providers, tour operators, hotels, restaurants, cafes, travel agents, road transport operators and logistics services, camp sites, holiday parks, taxi operators, tourism boards and authorities and all their associated supply chains.
Thomas Reynaert, Managing Director of Airlines for Europe (A4E), said: “With an estimated 55% fewer flights, an overall revenue loss of some €140 billion across the European aviation industry and a growing number of frustrated travellers, it’s about time that Europe shows some leadership in getting travel restrictions coordinated properly across the continent.”
More than 20,000 A4E airline passengers were denied boarding this summer due to what it calls a ‘chaotic, fragmented situation’.
The letter comes as the latest data from airport body ACI EUROPE shows a continued decline in passenger traffic at Europe’s airports during the first two weeks of September – now standing at a loss of -73%; down from sluggish ‘peak recovery level’ of -65% mid-August.
The letter says: “This chaotic situation requires your immediate personal involvement.
“We are thus urging you to make this issue a top priority and calling on you to address this issue directly with heads of state and government”.
“We are therefore also urging you to ensure that the Commission takes the lead in the development of an EU Testing Protocol for travel and its implementation to avoid quarantines and re-open borders”.
The signatories point out that the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) formally advises states against extreme travel restrictions, which are neither risk-based nor proven effective where community transmission is already present – which is the case across Europe.
The reduction and removal of quarantines is ‘instrumental in re-establishing the free movement of people, ending current discriminations and restoring the essential functionality of the Single Market’, they add.