The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on governments to remove all travel barriers for fully vaccinated travelers and further reduce entry restrictions for the unvaccinated.
“There is increasing scientific evidence and opinions against targeting travelers with country restrictions and bans to control the spread of COVID-19. The measures did not work.” said William Walsh, Director General of IATA in a Press release.
“The billions spent testing travelers would be far more effective if allocated to vaccine distribution or health systems strengthening,” he added.
While it may seem like a decent idea, the CEO didn’t mention that most of those billions come from people’s personal expenses, so they can’t be “allocated” to healthcare systems elsewhere.
The airline group, which represents 290 airlines including Air Canada, WestJet and Air Transat requires 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 says travel restrictions should be relaxed as travelers do not pose a greater epidemiological risk than people already face.
Walsh went on to comment that the existing travel landscape is “a mess”. citing a research report by the Migration Policy Institute that found “over 100,000 different travel measurements” worldwide.
“There is a problem – COVID-19. But there seem to be more unique solutions for managing travel and COVID-19 than there are countries to travel to.”
This adds unnecessary problems for passengers, airlines and governments.
Regarding vaccines, the CEO highlights three main points that can simplify travel when COVID-19 becomes endemic.
The first is vaccine acceptance, as not all countries recognize each other’s vaccines; the second is the validity of the vaccine, 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 across the world, particularly in Africa.
The CEO is not alone in his claims. Last week, the World Health Organization urged governments around the world to lift all remaining travel restrictions.
According to the agency, travel bans “discourage transparent and expeditious reporting of Emerging Variants of Concern (VOC) in a transparent and timely manner” and “contribute to economic and social stress” for countries.