Alliance of 5,000 travel businesses back airport testing to replace quarantine


An alliance of more than 5,000 travel and tourism companies across Europe have issued an unprecedented appeal for the introduction of airport testing to replace quarantine.

Twenty associations, representing the 5,000 firms, have issued an open letter to the European Commission calling for a testing regime to help save the jobs of 27 million people across Europe working in the travel and tourism industry.

The appeal comes as figures show that passenger traffic across Europe during September dipped to a new low - and was even worse than August, raising questions over the long-term recovery of the industry. Airline chiefs forecast that the flying will not return to pre-covid levels for up to five years.

ACI EUROPE data showed that during the first two weeks of September showed passenger air traffic as down 73 on the same period last years, worse than the “peak recovery level” of minus 67 per cent in mid-August.  

It comes as Europe wrestles with a resurgence of coronavirus which has further damaged consumer confidence in travelling.

In their letter to the EC president Ursula von der Leyen, the 20 groups said testing would help restore confidence by showing people were clear of the virus on departure - and could shorten their time in quarantine potentially four or five days after arrival by having a confirmatory second negative test.

They urged state heads across Europe to replace  the current patchwork of quarantines and testing regimes with a single testing protocol to end the current “chaotic” nature of travel.

“We are urging you to ensure the Commission takes the lead in the development of an EU Testing Protocol for travel and its implementation to avoid quarantines and re-open borders,” said the groups, which represent airlines, airports, railways, travel and hospitality firms and tourist boards.

Some 30 countries have introduced airport testing, including France, Germany, Greece and Iceland. Heathrow has built a testing facility but it stands idle as the Government has so far failed to back a trial.