News: Airline alliances call for globally harmonised approach to Covid-19

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The three major global airline alliances have offered their full support to the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) second-phase council on aviation recovery task force (CART) report.

SkyTeam, oneworld and Star Alliance urge governments to implement the report guidelines for passenger testing protocols, as well as the adoption of digital health pass technology, so air travel may safely resume.

Government-imposed travel and entry restrictions continue to significantly impact global travel demand.

Meanwhile, Covid-19 testing has emerged as an important part of an end-to-end solution to enable the safe restart of international travel by potentially reducing the reliance on the blunt instrument of blanket quarantines. 

“We welcome the publication of the updated CART report which, among other things, calls for the serious consideration of screening and testing as a means for easing travel and border restrictions, and reviving the travel and tourism industry and the global economy,” said Star Alliance chief executive, Jeffrey Goh.

“A robust protocol for testing will also provide further evidence to demonstrate that air travel is not a material cause for infections and will pave the way for a framework of trust to be established between countries.”

On behalf of their 58 member airlines, representing over 60 per cent of world airline capacity and carrying over 1.87 billion passengers annually prior to the Covid-19 crisis, the three alliances are calling for a harmonised approach to testing that will form the foundation of a trust framework, as recommended by the ICAO guidelines. 

SkyTeam chief executive, Kristin Colvile, said: “Testing regimes and trials of digital health passes have identified means to restoring confidence and reopening borders, complementing the layer upon layer of passenger safety measures already implemented by airlines and airports worldwide.

“Aviation supports millions of jobs around the world and drives international commerce, trade and tourism. Urgent action is needed to adopt testing and technology to mitigate Covid-19 risks and safely and quickly revive international air travel.”

The recent digital ‘health pass’ trials, such as Common Pass, are presenting a strong case for using digital technology to deliver harmonised standards in the validation and verification of accredited passenger health data.

The alliances support technical solutions that provide a consistent, scalable and affordable way to declare passenger health data that is simple to implement as part of the customer journey, with processes-initiated pre-travel to reduce passenger inconvenience at airports. 

oneworld chief executive, Rob Gurney, said: “With extensive travel restrictions creating much uncertainty for customers, testing can play a role in enabling the safe restart of travel.

“Any solution used in declaring passenger health data should be consistent, scalable and cost effective – this will provide clarity and confidence to customers, airlines and other stakeholders as international travel resumes.”

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