The International Air Transport Association (IATA) urged governments to remove all travel barriers for fully vaccinated travelers, and further reduce entry restrictions for the unvaccinated.
“There is mounting scientific evidence and opinion opposing the targeting of travelers with restrictions and country bans to control the spread of COVID-19. The measures have not worked,” said William Walsh, IATA’s Director-General in a press release.
“The billions spent testing travelers would be far more effective if allocated to vaccine distribution or strengthening health care systems,” he added.
Although it may appear to be a decent idea, the CEO failed to mention that most of those billions come from people’s personal expenses, so they cannot be “allocated” in other latitudes’ health systems.
The airline group, which represents 290 airlines including Air Canada, WestJet and Air Transat demands governments to remove all entry restrictions for the fully vaccinated and lift travel bans for the unvaccinated who can produce a negative COVID test.
The CEO claims that travel restrictions must be eased since travelers do not pose a bigger epidemiological risk than people are already facing.
Walsh went on to remark that the existing travel scenario is “a mess,” citing a research report by the Migration Policy Institute that found “over 100,000 different travel measures” around the world.
“There is one problem—COVID-19. But there seem to be more unique solutions to managing travel and COVID-19 than there are countries to travel to.”
This adds unnecessary hassle for passengers, airlines, and governments.
Regarding vaccines, the CEO highlights three major points that might simplify travel once COVID-19 becomes endemic.
The first is vaccine acceptance since not all countries recognize each other’s vaccines; the second is vaccine validity, as there is currently no consensus on how long a vaccine is considered valid; and the third is priority distribution, which is a call for equitable distribution throughout the world, particularly in Africa.
The CEO is not alone in his claims. Last week, the World Health Organization encouraged governments worldwide to lift all the remaining travel restrictions.
According to the agency travel bans “discourage transparent and rapid reporting of emerging Variants of Concern (VOC) in a transparent and timely manner” and “contribute to the economic and social stress” of countries.