The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on governments to embrace the Covid-19 pandemic reaching an endemic stage and has proposed a selection of new ‘rules’ for travel as the way forward.

According to IATA, Covid-19 has reached an endemic stage defined as a condition regularly found among particular people or in a certain area. According to IATA Director General, Willie Walsh, we now possess the tools and have 2 years’ experience under Covid-19 which should assist us in ensuring a simplified and coordinated path to normal travel when COVID-19 is endemic.

IATA suggests that the following rules should apply instead of the current stricter regulations:

  1. Travel barriers including quarantine and testing should be removed for those fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine
  2. Unvaccinated travellers with a negative pre-departure antigen test result should be able to stay without quarantine
  3. Travel bans need to be lifted as a whole
  4. The easing of travel restrictions within countries needs to be accelerated as it is now evident that travellers pose no greater risk of spreading Covid-19 than what already exists within the general population.

IATA highlights the importance of vaccination policies as a greater focus area. The different vaccines and their approvals and recognition as a viable vaccine for travel have become a barrier to travel resumptions; this needs to be clarified and rectified. The length of validity of the vaccines needs to be aligned as the eligibility for booster shots is currently being controlled at a national policy level.

This creates a disconnect and misalignment for travellers. They also added that poorer countries need to be prioritised in terms of vaccine distribution. Many developing countries have not received their first vaccination while more developed countries are now considering second rounds of booster shots; this creates barriers to travel and cuts developing countries off from others, worsening the economic toll on them.

Walsh also added: “Urgent consideration is needed for several critical concerns regarding vaccines. While Europe is aligning around a nine-month validity period for primary vaccinations, this is not universal. And booster shot validity has not been addressed. As the first quarter of the year is key to bookings for the peak northern summer travel season, it is important to provide certainty to potential travellers as early as possible. Governments have declared intentions to support a travel recovery. Addressing questions on vaccination validity is a key element!”

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