Associations call for end to certificate confusion

As the European Union implemented its Digital COVID Certificate (DCC) system the aviation sector hit out at the myriad of approaches adding that it will create a state of confusion for the world’s airlines.

Four aviatin associations have written to European leaders to urge them to create a more comprehensive and consistent approach to enhance the public’s confidence to fly.

The international Air Transport Association, Airport Council International, Airlines for Europe, and the European Regions Airlines Association have said the DCC is a crucial enabler for the restoration of freedom of movement within Europe.

They warned airlines and airports are warning of major operational risks due to the inconsistent approach by Member States in applying the DCC across Europe. The letter urged leaders to harmonise DCC verification standards and protocols, to avoid unnecessary airport queues and ensure a smooth passenger experience.

“While the European Commission has worked closely with industry and delivered in record time the adequate framework allowing for common and fully interoperable DCCs, no less than 10 different national approaches and solutions are currently under review across the EU,” it said. “Combined with a lack of full and effective integration of the DCC in the passenger journey, as well as duplication of document checks (average check-in processing times, for example, have increased 500% to twelve minutes per passenger the current state of play threatens the success of this summer’s air travel restart and will undermine free movement of citizens across the EU.”

The associations added in particular, verification of the DCC must take place well in advance of departure and ahead of passengers arriving at the airport (off airport), together with Passenger Locator Forms (PLFs) and without duplication of checks.

“With the peak summer travel season upon us, the EU thankfully now has a number of tools and measures available to enable and support the restarting of air connectivity, alongside travel and tourism. We need Member States to urgently implement these tools in a harmonised and effective manner. We view these as essential prerequisites to travel, to avoid long passenger queues and waiting times which would create new health hazards and inevitably result in operational issues for airports and airlines”, said the letter.

European aviation remains one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic. According to the latest EUROCONTROL forecast, aviation is not expected to make a full recovery before 2024 at the earliest. Passenger traffic across the EU/EEA/Swiss airport network was still down by -77% in early June compared to pre-pandemic levels. Similarly, the recovery in air connectivity is proceeding at a slow pace, with over 5,600 air routes lost this month compared to June 2019. On the other hand, the desire to travel is strong, with 61% of Europeans surveyed wanting to travel between now and the next two months. In addition, passengers support digitalisation processes: 89% want globally standardised COVID-19 test or vaccination certifications.

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