African Airlines Association (AFRAA) wants states to abolish the use of the Covid-19 certificate as a means for admitting travellers into their countries until when there will be reasonable accessibility to vaccines globally.
AFRAA says the travel industry is reeling from the adverse impact of the re-introduction of travel restrictions and implementation of blanket travel bans since the onset of the Omicron variant.
Kenya is among the countries that only admits travellers with Covid-19 certificate whether they are international passengers or locals returning home.
The airline lobby also wants governments and stakeholders to harmonise the health protocols, reconsider the bans and adopt a risk-based approach in line with the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.
“States should not impose Covid-19 vaccination certificates as a mandatory travel entry and exit requirement until there is satisfactory access to vaccines globally, reasonable vaccination coverage is attained, and sufficient guidance on the use of the vaccine for travel is available based on recommendations of the WHO,” said AFRAA secretary general, Abdérahmane Berthé.
He said 2021 marked the dawn of recovery with positive trends in air transport activity being witnesses across the globe pointing out that as of October 2021, African airlines had reopened 81.3 percent of their international routes that had been closed due to the pandemic.
“African cargo capacity grew by 33 percent since 2019 and cargo load factors improved by 9 percent from pre-pandemic levels,” he said.
“The travel restrictions and blanket bans are a huge risk to the gains made in the recovery of the travel ecosystem. Furthermore, air transport connectivity and economic sustainability of airlines’ operations will be negatively impacted.”
AFRAA, he said, recognises that a risk-based approach and the safe reopening of borders are critical for the efficient restart of aviation but urged the governments to remove border restrictions and open their markets to restart the industry.
AFRAA recommends that States continue with pre-departure testing until vaccines become widespread, with States transitioning to the use of Rapid Antigen Testing as an alternative to PCR, some of which have been proven to have similar reliability to PCR, is significantly cheaper and takes within 30 minutes for results.
To address credibility of test/vaccination certificates, AFRAA wants Governments to continue to adopt digital Covid-19 test/vaccination certificates wherever possible as verifiable health credentials and as a trusted platform for traveler information.The agency wants States to implement rapid roll-out of vaccines across the continent to facilitate the restart of economies and Air Transport.“To date, […]