Airports Council International and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have urged European governments to lift all travel restrictions for fully vaccinated and recovered individuals holding a valid Covid Certificate.
The move has been as advised by the new regime for travel within the EU - which comes into force today.
This new regime, set out by an EU Council recommendation adopted on January 25th, is based on the health status of travellers, rather than the epidemiological situation of their country or area of origin.
Independent research conducted in Finland and Italy provides insight into developing a Europe-wide policy for removing restrictions.
The research made public today confirms the validity of the traveller-centric approach, highlighting the inefficiency of recent travel restrictions imposed by European countries in mitigating the risks to public health and society posed by Covid-19.
New analysis produced by Oxera and Edge Health reveals that pre-departure testing requirements are likely to be ineffective at stopping or even limiting the spread of the Omicron variant.
The analysis of testing restrictions imposed by Italy and Finland on December 16th and December 28th respectively on all incoming travellers made no distinguishable difference to transmission of Omicron cases in those countries.
Conversely, the impact of these restrictions, and in particular the limitations to the free movement of people, resulted in significant and unnecessary economic hardship - not just for the travel and tourism sectors and their workforce, but for the whole European economy.
Crucially, the report also shows that maintaining pre-departure testing requirements for vaccinated/recovered travellers further will have “no impact whatsoever on the future spread of the Omicron” variant in Italy and Finland.
The fact that both countries are now lifting their pre-departure testing requirements is very welcome, IATA said.
However, concerns remain that both countries could have lifted them much earlier or altogether avoided imposing them in the first place – lessons must be learned to avoid repeated economic damage with no attendant public health benefit.
“The new regime for intra-EU/EEA travel is right to focus on a ‘person-based approach’ and to recognise that both vaccinated and recovered travellers should not be subjected to any restriction.
“But having common EU regimes has so far not prevented States from going their own way.
“This must stop.
“We now have further proof – travel restrictions do have a significant effect – but it’s not on public health, it’s on economic stability and livelihoods.
“In short: they are causing more harm than good,” said Olivier Jankovec, ACI Europe director general.