Lift prohibitive air travel restrictions, Africa told

May 28, 2021 / Comments (0)

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The continent has also been urged to harmonise travel protocols.

African states should lift prohibitive travel restrictions among other measures, to help recovery of the aviation and tourism industries, five civil aviation bodies have advised.

This is in the wake of a struggling industry reeling from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic that threatens the future of key national airlines in the continent, among them Kenya Airways.

In a joint statement, the bodies together with the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), want governments to lift prohibitive travel restrictions in the form of quarantine measures.

This, it says, should apply to  fully vaccinated and negatively tested travellers, in the short term.

They said quarantines should be applicable only to passengers coming from areas with a very high incidence of the virus, and should be regularly reviewed in co-ordination with national and international health authorities.

The African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO), African Airlines Association (AFRAA), Airports Council International (ACI) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) issued the statement.

They advocate for the harmonisation of travel protocols, accessibility of Covid-19 testing facilities, reduction of high tests cost, expediting of the vaccine roll-out campaign in Africa and adoption of globally interoperable digital health passes.

“There is need for constant and sustained dialogue among African governments, civil aviation authorities, tourism and travel industry players, air transport associations and other key stakeholders, to implement harmonised and internationally adopted health and travel protocols,” the statement reads.

This, the sector players say, will bring back the necessary confidence for a safe, simple and seamless air travel “in the new normal.”

African States are encouraged to make available universal, accessible and affordable Covid-19 testing facilities to all air travelers, that is PCR or Rapid antigen tests.

Where possible, African States are also urged to consider alternative testing protocol for travel that uses the rapid diagnostic antigen test which is more cost-effective.

On vaccines, the aviation bodies say it is vital that the roll-out campaign in Africa is expedited equitably with the prime objective of achieving the herd immunity, or that level of vaccination which inhibits the ability of the virus to circulate in the population.

African countries are further encouraged to adopt any form of globally interoperable digital health pass or certificate, approved by the World Health Organization, that will seamlessly integrate into testing and travel processes of the different stakeholders of the air travel industry.

The aviation and tourism industry is among the worse hit by the pandemic, with Kenya loosing about Sh130.9 billion in potential tourism revenues alone.

Africa’s airlines posted a combined $2 billion (over Sh200 billion) loss in 2020.

”This year we expect only a slight improvement ($1.7  billion loss) as the struggle with Covid-19 continues,” IATA said in a recent statement.

Locally, Kenya Airways reported a net loss of Sh36.2 billion, the worst ever in the history of the airline, on account of Covid-19 disruptions that led to a sharp decline in passenger numbers.

National carriers have since been forced to seek governments bailouts with only a handful of African airlines securing $ 2.04 billion (Sh219.5 billion) in government aid, mostly disbursed through direct government loans, equity financing, and cash injections.

Source: The star

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