European aviation criticizes governments for disjointed approach to restrictions

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Airlines and airports in Europe are unhappy with the way countries across the EU are diverging in their approach to reopening borders.

According to a joint statement by ACI Europe and the Airlines for Europe (A4E) organization, despite agreeing at EU Council level to a scientific-based approach and endorsing their own recommendations just one week ago, EU states are adopting extremely diverging lists of countries from which travel is allowed. The groups said that, as a result, there is little clarity and significant uncertainty on which citizens can travel where and it has led to a patchwork of travel restrictions.

The two groups have urged EU and Schengen states to do away with politics and follow their agreed, fact-based approach toward lifting the ban on non-essential travel to the EU and Schengen area for countries where the epidemiological situation allows.

The two associations also said they support regular updating of the white list in the coming weeks, including its expansion to other non-EU/Schengen countries which fit the criteria proposed by the European Commission and are approved by the EU Council, in order to support air transportation and European tourism’s recovery.

The following examples of diverging policies were provided.- Belgium keeping its borders closed to travelers from the 15 white-listed countries until further notice.

– Germany reopening its borders to eight countries from the white list while requiring reciprocity from China, Japan and South Korea before lifting entry restrictions from those countries.

– Greece barring entry to Serbian nationals (not residents), therefore not following the council recommendation and going against the EU principle of non-discrimination.

– Hungary announcing that it will not open its borders to non-EU countries except Serbia for the moment.

– Ireland extending its advice to avoid all non-essential travel until July 20; a ‘green list’ of countries which people could travel to will not be published until then.

– Poland extending its flight ban until July 14, except for flights from the EU, Canada, Albania, Georgia, Japan, Korea, Montenegro and Ukraine – thereby not using the whole list of approved countries.

– Spain reopening its borders on July 4 to 12 countries from the white list – however residents of Algeria, China and Morocco will only be able to travel to Spain if these countries reopen their borders to Spanish residents in a reciprocity move.

“These diverging national approaches are hurting our single market and will slow down aviation and tourism’s much needed recovery”, said Thomas Reynaert, managing director of Airlines for Europe (A4E). “The situation is also creating an uneven playing field within Europe at a time when our sector is still struggling for survival.”

ACI Europe reinforced that European aviation remains in a severe and unprecedented crisis. Annual losses are projected to total €82bn (US$93bn), globally, the worst year in aviation’s financial history.

Europe’s airlines are projected to lose €19bn (US$21bn) and are among the top three worst affected regions, globally. The latest forecast for European airport revenue losses for the full year 2020 stands at a staggering €32.44bn (US$36.66bn).

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