BRUSSELS - In a joint letter sent to European Heads of State and Ministers last night, aviation bodies A4E, ACI Europe and ERA issued a direct appeal for urgent action and transparency in making Digital Green Certificates ready for issue by the end of June at the very latest.
Following the European Commission’s proposal for a common EU framework for the Certificates, which the industry fully supports, the signatories are ‘relieved and encouraged’ to see the legislative process being fast-tracked. But, they say, this is no guarantee that the Digital Green Certificates will be either implemented or become operational. This rests in the hands of individual countries and their plans largely remain unclear to the industry.
As one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic and with an essential role in kick-starting societal and economic recovery - aviation stands ready to deliver a safe and effective resumption of travel. Summer 2021 represents a make it or break it moment, with millions of EU tourism jobs supported by aviation and the wider recovery of the sector hanging on the line. Visibility across ongoing work is urgently needed, and target dates must be both set and shared as early as possible – to establish the state of readiness of each EU/EEA country and Switzerland.
In a direct call to action, the leadership of A4E, ACI Europe and ERA urged all concerned States “to take the necessary steps for an effective and timely planning and execution of all actions needed from a technical, administrative and legal point of view to be able to effectively start issuing Digital Green Certificates by June at the latest.”
They also pointed to the need “to ensure an effective and early planning and coordination (…) over the conditions and criteria for the easing of travel restrictions both within the EU/EEA/Switzerland and externally.” The ECDC’s latest technical report issued yesterday provides welcome new guidance, explicitly raising the possibility of waiving testing and quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers. This is an important development which now allows for exactly such planning and co-ordination for an easing of restrictions.
The latest industry data shows a deepening crisis in the sector, with air traffic in a continuing downward spiral. Passenger traffic in Q1 slumped by -81.7% across the European airport network, compared to the same period pre-pandemic (Q1 2019). This marked a further decrease from the previous quarter (Q4 2020 at -79.2%), resulting in the loss of 395.5 million passengers (attribute to ACI EUROPE). Similarly, air connectivity keeps declining, with Europe having lost over 8,500 air routes this month, further down from 6,663 air routes lost last January.