EU Begins Lifting Air Travel Restrictions

social distancing
Credit: Amsterdam Schiphol Airport / Twitter

LONDON—The European Commission (EC) has called on member-states to lift intra-EU travel restrictions now, ahead of a progressive wider relaxation, which is planned to take effect after June 30.

The recommendation to remove restrictions gradually to free movement and lift internal border controls came on June 11, in light of the improving COVID-19 situation in Europe and preventative measures being implemented by EU member-states.

“States must now follow the commission and fully restore the free movement of people within the EU,” said IATA VP for Europe Rafael Schvartzman. “They also need to work hand-in-hand to start lifting travel restrictions with the wider world, as per the risk-based and targeted approach set out by the commission.” 

In a joint statement, IATA, Airlines for Europe (A4E) and Airports Council International (ACI) Europe said the return to travel is supported by a “comprehensive aviation health and safety protocol,” with “biosafety measures at every step of the passenger journey,” developed by EASA and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), in line with ICAO guidance.

“The aim was to allow travel and tourism to be relaunched safely in the summer months, as soon as governments and public health authorities opened up their borders,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said. “We are confident that, providing individuals behave responsibly and abide by the measures being put in place by airports and airlines, passengers can return to the skies with confidence.”.  

A4E MD Thomas Reynaert called on EU governments to follow a coordinated and risk-based approach and urged the UK to reconsider its “blanket quarantine” quickly. “Mutual recognition of measures based on the EASA-ECDC comprehensive guidelines is the best and fastest way forward,” Reynaert said.

ACI Europe director General Olivier Jankovec urged governments to “play ball,” by widening the relaxation to the rest of the world.

On June 15, ACI Europe announced 10 commitments to the public based on the EASA/ECDC protocol and 10 recommendations to policy makers. The ACI Europe commitments include “the pledge to fully implement national health safety guidelines; to enhance standards of cleaning and disinfection throughout airport premises; to encourage the use of touchless technology, biometrics and innovative solutions to reduce queues; and to ensure clear and up-to-date communication on health and sanitary measures to passengers.” 

Jankovec described the commitments and recommendations as “concrete, confident and unequivocal. We’re ready to welcome back our passengers, and to play our part in the economic recovery of our society. We clearly ask of European policymakers at national and international levels that they match our commitments with proportionate and harmonized actions.” 

To support the reopening, the commission launched a Re-Open EU website, with real-time EU travel and border information, including the status of country-specific restrictions and preventative measures. 

“After weeks of confinement, EU internal borders are reopening. The Re-Open EU website we are launching today [June 15] will provide travelers with easy access to information to help them confidently make their travel plans and stay safe during their trip,” Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said. 

Victoria Moores

Victoria Moores joined Air Transport World as our London-based European Editor/Bureau Chief on 18 June 2012. Victoria has nearly 20 years’ aviation industry experience, spanning airline ground operations, analytical, journalism and communications roles.