The International Air Transport Association (IATA) on Monday welcomed comments from European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen indicating that the EU will grant unrestricted access to vaccinated travelers from the U.S. this summer. However, the group also cautioned against “excluding” unvaccinated people from crossing borders.
In an interview with the New York Times, Von der Leyen did not specify timeline or logistics details about the plan, but noted that the U.S. appears likely to have fully vaccinated 70 percent of its population by mid-June. The European Union banned nonessential travel to the bloc except for a few countries with a low number of cases such as New Zealand and Singapore. The EU has barred U.S. citizens and those from most other countries from crossing its borders since March 17, 2020.
“This is a step in the right direction,” said IATA director general Willie Walsh of von der Leyen’s comments. “To be fully prepared, it is imperative that the EC works with the industry so that airlines can plan within the public health benchmarks and timelines that will enable unconditional travel for those vaccinated, not just from the U.S. but from all countries using vaccines that are approved by the European Medicines Association.”
IATA, however, called for the development of globally recognized standards for digital vaccine certificates and termed “vital” the acceleration by the EU of adoption of the European Green Certificate.
IATA promotes its Travel Pass app as a means to help industry and governments manage and verify vaccination status, as it does with testing certificates. It also reiterated its position on requiring vaccination as a condition of entry.
“The presentation of negative COVID-19 test results should also facilitate travel,” said IATA in a statement. “Central to this is acceptance by EU governments of rapid antigen tests that the commission has approved for use and which fulfill the critical criteria of effective, convenient, and affordable.”