European airlines and airport groups have warned travelers about chaos and long queues and indicated that countries should coordinate the publication of EU COVID-19 digital vaccination passports and the processing of passenger forms before arriving at airports, TheSchengen.com reports.
In a letter to national leaders in the European Union, Airports Council International (ACI) and airline representative bodies such as A4E, IATA and ERA expressed their concerns, saying a “worrying mixture of approaches” around the world.
“With passenger traffic increasing in the coming weeks, the risk of chaos at European airports is real,” the groups wrote in the joint letter sent this week.
The European COVID-19 Digital Vaccination Passport was created to prove that its holder has been fully vaccinated, immunized due to a recent recovery from the coronavirus or recently tested negative for the virus.
The document is expected to facilitate free movement across the European Union from July 1, but additional checks are required, and airports must be equipped with the proper tools to read QR codes.
The letter indicated that the only way to avoid long queues and delays during the summer season is to establish a system whereby both the vaccination certificate and passenger locator forms are processed before passengers arrive at the airport. The letter also urges that checks be completed in the country of arrival and that national governments manage health data and QR code verification.
“The high level of fragmentation and differences in the implementation of the DCC … as well as the frequency of document verifications in several states, is worrisome,” the letter said.
One of the signatories, ACI Europe’s director general, Olivier Jankovic, noted that members of the airport were “extremely concerned” about the matter. He also said that dealing with this increase in air traffic will be an unexpected challenge. In addition, the amount of verification that is done manually causes enormous distress among the employees.
“The amount of time it takes to navigate airports during a flight has doubled to three hours from an hour or an hour and a half before the outbreak,” said Raphael Schwartzman, vice president of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Schwartzman also noted that if this situation remains unchanged and traffic capacity returns to pre-COVID levels, that could rise to five or even eight hours of navigation.
The European Commission issued guidance to member states that have expressed similar concerns, noting that countries were planning 10 different sets of checks.
Previously, the ACI warned that queues during the summer season would stretch to a few hours.
According to a statement published by ACI Europe, passenger traffic is expected to rise nearly threefold from 47 million passengers in May to around 125 million passengers in August.
On the other hand, the ACI is urging France, Germany and the United Kingdom to implement the internationally recognized European digital vaccination passport for COVID-19.