Transnational Digital Border Solution: The Boards of Airline Representatives’ (BARs’) Proposal to European and National Governments
Unusual times call for exceptional measures; likewise, solving global challenges, such as the impacts of a pandemic, requires coordinated efforts across country borders. The current COVID-19-situation is no exception to that: the cooperative international political will is imperative to manage this crisis. Accordingly, the representatives of eleven national airline associations (Boards of Airline Representatives, BARs) are urging governments to collaborate without further delay on developing and implementing an international digital border solution for air travellers in order to remove avoidable travel restrictions in a controlled manner.
The BARs’ pressing appeal addresses the respective governments, as well as the European Commission and the current German EU Council Presidency. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted that such a transnational viable, high-performance data platform, which enables data sharing and analytics, and a more consistent passenger experience is required as an efficient and non-bureaucratic tool enabling mobility while simultaneously contributing to public health. By facilitating the rapid tracing of potential chains of infection, such a digital solution can support the responsible national authorities in taking appropriate and prompt action. Thus, secure, trusted, and efficient digital borders are a crucial measure towards re-opening international travel and the recovery of the global economy.
A harmonized, electronic solution is considerably superior to the current, mainly manual, procedures in individual countries. The first promising solutions are already in place, for example in Spain, the United Kingdom and Greece. However, what is now urgently required is a coordinating political effort to ensure a high-performance digital platform that transcends national borders and achieves a more consistent passenger experience.
“For all of us, the global COVID-19 pandemic poses major challenges, which can only be overcome through cooperation among states. Unfortunately, the travelling public are currently experiencing widespread manual and cumbersome processes. This is where the international community has to take a coordinated approach; there is no alternative,” the BARs’ executives explain. “A standardised, digital solution is far more efficient and delivers greater benefits than national procedures, especially in terms of greater transparency.”
The representatives of the BARs operating in Europe – including Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland, and the UK – are calling for a harmonized approach in other areas as well. Thus, in addition to the urgently needed digital solution, they are jointly campaigning for:
- The joint travel impact assessment of the COVID-19 situation within the EU and globally by the respective ministries of the states and superordinate institutions, such as the European Commission, as well as coordinated action on that basis.
- The coordinated implementation of the ‘Take-Off Guidance’ Aviation Health Safety protocol developed by ICAO, EASA and ECDC.
- Clear and unambiguous information for passengers on possible measures, always in consultation with the travel industry.
The BARs’ executives remind: “Rebuilding air traffic is of critical importance to the economic recovery in Europe and across the world. From the international movement of goods, to visiting family and relatives, to business and holiday trips – air transport connects people and countries and benefits society as a whole. We therefore appeal to national governments and the EU to push for the introduction of an international digital solution to remove border restrictions in the interests of their people and businesses. Furthermore, we encourage the implementation of the Take-Off Guidance’ Aviation Health Safety protocol in order to eliminate the currently uncoordinated individual measures and various travel restrictions.”