The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), welcomes the European Commission’s efforts to coordinate Europe’s re-opening and the guidelines it published today on how to safely resume travel to the Schengen area.
However, despite the recommendation to gradually start reopening external borders as of 1 July, the travel sector fears that EU countries may continue to act unilaterally, leading to the patchwork of rules and confusion already being experienced with the re-opening of Europe’s internal borders this month.
“Global travel will be the driving force of the post-COVID recovery. It will allow individuals to reconnect, place skills where they are most needed, boost employment and help resurrect the economies in the EU and across the world”, says Scott Solombrino, GBTA’s CEO.
GBTA, which represents over 9,000 small and large corporations flying their employees across Europe and the world, has been conducting regular polls with its members since the beginning of the crisis to better understand what will build companies’ confidence to resume business travel. The latest poll shows that more than half of companies are considering allowing their employees to travel again in the near future.
Health and safety guidelines throughout all travel sectors are a key part of that process. Airlines and airports have already pledged to uphold the strictest disinfection standards: aircraft will be sanitized before every flight and all passengers will be required to wear face masks. “People aren’t going to travel until they feel safe. Our member companies want to see health and safety maintained at every stage of the travel process – from the minute the traveller leaves home until they arrive back safely, this includes all travel sectors from ground transportation to airlines, to hotels”, insists Solombrino.
In addition to the health and safety protocols developed by the transport and travel sector, the business travel community also expects prompt initiatives by governments to re-open borders in a safe and coordinated way, as recommended by the European Commission today. Blanket quarantine rules, such as the one imposed by the British government, are at this time disproportionate and unenforceable – and will deliver a killer blow to a travel sector which is struggling for survival. The entire travel community has been advocating for alternative measures, including tests and temperature checks at the country of origin and upon arrival.
Once safety protocols are in place, it is fundamental that the EU reopens its internal and external borders as soon as possible, as the epidemiological situation begins to resemble a stable, downward trend in many regions and countries. “Resurrecting travel requires predictability and transparent and timely communication. Uncoordinated measures will add further strain on citizens and travel operators alike as business depends on seamless cross-border travel”, says Solombrino.