Three global airline alliances – Oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance – are calling on the G7 governments to agree on a common set of travel and health standards that will enable the safe reopening of borders, facilitating the safe restart of international travel. The three alliances together comprise 59 member airlines, plus connecting affiliates, collectively representing almost two-thirds of global air capacity prior to Covid-19 (almost two billion customers each year).
The alliances cite a recent estimate by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), which stated that international tourism declined by around 80% in 2020. Prior to the pandemic, tourism contributed more than 4% of GDP for the average OECD country, with the World Travel and Tourism Council estimating that continued travel restrictions could pose a risk for up to 174 million jobs globally.
The CEOs of the three global alliances – Kristin Colvile at SkyTeam, Rob Gurney for Oneworld, and Jeffrey Goh of Star Alliance – made a collective statement: “International air travel and tourism are vital to the global economy. With considerable data now available to support government decisions in managing risks, decisive action from G7 members to open borders and support clear, consistent, and data-driven measures, would remove uncertainty, particularly around testing and quarantine.”
While vaccination programmes offer hope in some markets, the alliances say that varying and sometimes rapidly changing rules and procedures across countries and at different airport hubs, are creating confusion and stress for customers and disrupting travel.
The alliances are urging G7 governments to adopt the following travel measures to provide clarity and reconnect travellers with the world, safely and securely:
• Fully vaccinated passengers should be exempt from quarantine
• Covid-19 testing should be easily accessible, affordable and consistent
• Connecting passengers at airports should not be subject to additional testing or quarantine restrictions at the point of transfer if remaining in the transit zone
Further, the alliances support IATA’s call for governments to adopt digital processes to manage travel health credentials, including vaccine and test certificates, and for G7 member states to agree to common requirements and standards for health credentials as set out by the World Health Organization and International Civil Aviation Organisation.
“Vaccination will have a key role in the restart of international air travel and tourism. We strongly advocate for governments to accept accredited vaccination as a safe and appropriate reason to avoid quarantines. In the meantime, while we wait for the global population to be substantially vaccinated, it is important to have robust and consistent testing protocols, along with interoperable digital solutions developed to facilitate the customer journey,” read a statement from the three alliance CEOs.