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HomeTrade AssociationsIATA - International Air Transport AssociationSimple Testing, Affordability and Sustainability Keys to Restoring UK Aviation

Simple Testing, Affordability and Sustainability Keys to Restoring UK Aviation

Geneva – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) outlined an agenda for the UK to restore its air transport sector to health by embracing a simpler COVID-19 testing regime, ensuring affordable, competitive airport costs, and working for net-zero air transport.

Speaking at the UK Aviation Club, IATA Director General Willie Walsh emphasized the value of face-to-face meetings and the desire of travelers to get flying again. But he warned that by restricting travel and persisting with expensive PCR testing, the UK had failed to capitalize on its early start in COVID-19 vaccinations, and slipped behind its principal EU partners.

“In terms of day-to-day life, the UK is far more pragmatic in managing COVID-19 than many other states. But its approach to travel continues to focus on restrictions which cannot be justified based on risk. Over the period from February to August, the PCR test positivity rate of arriving passengers to the UK was 1%. And the positivity rate from testing the general population was 7%. So we can confidently say that travel is not increasing the UK’s COVID-19 risk,” said Walsh.

While welcoming recent moves to cut the number of ‘red list’ countries and finally proposing an end to PCR tests for vaccinated passengers, Walsh warned that problems remain, principally with the new post-arrival antigen test. The UK is relying on a closed shop of private testing providers, the effectiveness of which the Competition and Markets Authority has described as “a lottery”.  And prices remain high compared to convenient high-street options elsewhere in the world.

COVID-19 document checks have also been identified as a barrier to travel. The UK must lead with automated digital solutions to take the burden off airlines. “Manual paper checks by airlines are unsustainable as volumes come back. We need to automate the process…airlines are not your border guards,” said Walsh.

Affordable, competitive air transport costs

 The slow UK…

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