European airports warn of potential summer chaos due to Covid-19 controls

European airports warn of potential summer chaos due to Covid-19 controls
European airports warn of potential summer chaos due to Covid-19 controls

With the ongoing and expected easing of travel restrictions in Europe and beyond, thanks to the improved epidemiological situation, European airports are expected to welcome many more travelers again. Passenger traffic is expected to increase nearly threefold, from 47 million passengers this month to 125 million passengers in August, estimates ACI Europe.

Even if this will remain well below pre-pandemic traffic levels, the management of such an increase will constitute an “unprecedented operational challenge”, worries this council of European airports. This is because of the limited space available with the implementation of physical distancing, which will lead to an increase in passenger processing time. Added to this is an increase in the number of peaks in air traffic, which will be very concentrated on peak periods this summer.

It is above all the “multiple and varied” Covid-19 checks that cause the stir, whether they are additional checks at airports to verify test certificates, passenger tracking forms and quarantine documents. . “These checks are usually carried out by public authorities, airlines and / or ground handling companies. They vary by point of origin and destination, depending on rules that remain largely unaligned and unstable in Europe. In addition, they are performed multiple times on departure and arrival, most of the time manually – resulting in inefficiencies and drastically slowing down passenger processing time. For example, COVID-19 test checks departures are currently duplicated, or even tripled, in 77% of European airports “, illustrates ACI Europe.

The organization therefore calls on European governments to adopt and implement in a uniform manner the proposed revised recommendation on travel within the EU published today by the European Commission. According to her, this should ensure consistency with the recommendation on travel within the EU recently adopted by the European Council and therefore ensure the lifting of travel restrictions for travelers who have been vaccinated as well as for travelers who have been tested and cured.

It also wants states to be ready to issue common and interoperable digital Covid-19 EU certificates by July 1 at the latest and that, together with the European Commission, they also recognize digital and manual certificates issued by countries. neighbors of the EU as well as by other third countries which relax travel restrictions with Europe.

Finally, the airport cupola wishes that the controls are not duplicated during the journey (by integrating the departure and arrival processes at airports), that they take place as early as possible in the passenger’s process (in particular through online check-in) and that sufficient staff be deployed, especially at borders, to ensure them without delaying travelers.

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