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Airline industry pushes WHO to support post-vaccine travel

written by Hannah Dowling | February 1, 2021

(Image from IATA)

The International Air Transport Association has called upon the World Health Organisation to formally support the end of quarantine requirements for vaccinated travellers.

The IATA has long pushed for governments to end travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, which have contributed to the ongoing slump in air travel demand.

Now, the airline industry body is pushing to the WHO to support the relieving of travel restrictions, and rule that travelling is safe without quarantine so long as a person is vaccinated against COVID-19.

According to the IATA, acknowledgement of that principle by the United Nations body is going to be vital to the survival of the airline industry moving forward, as well as speed up the development of its digital travel pass.

“We can say whatever we want, what we do need is for the WHO to come out and say the same thing, so that it becomes a universal acceptance that once you’re vaccinated you should not have to go through any of these hoops,” Nick Careen, IATA’s senior vice president for passenger matters, said.

Careen also stated that development around international common standards for vaccine certificates, a key aspect of the IATA’s travel pass, needs to be introduced quicker.

Paper-based accreditation is more open to fraud, and several cases of forged pre-flight test results have already emerged around the world, he said.


“We have been suggesting this for months,” he said. “The WHO needs a fire lit underneath it to get this done sooner rather than later. Even then, there’s no guarantee that every government will adopt the standard right away.”

Currently, the WHO’s COVID-19 Emergency Committee has not been recommending that countries demand proof of vaccination from incoming travellers, and instead continues to opt for testing and quarantine procedures.

This is due to the fact that the impact of vaccines in reducing community transmission of the virus is as yet unknown, according to the WHO.

Nations should instead implement co-ordinated, evidence-based measures for safe travel, it said.

Both the airline and travel industries have spent most of the pandemic lobbying to governments to take a unified approach on travel restrictions, as the lack of consistency across jurisdictions have made it impossible for businesses to forward plan.

According to Careen, the IATA’s latest push for quarantine-free travel post-vaccination has been supported by the government in Greece, as well as by the US CDC.

Talks are ongoing with states in the European Union, as well as Europe’s air-safety regulator, EASA, he added.


  • Ben


    IATA is in no place to make these demands. They have financial and commercial motivations for this stance not health… nor do they have the qualifications to be making these statements. That’s not how vaccines work, it reduces the risk of transmission not removes it. Industry should be supporting the recommendations of the scientists and doctors not advocating for removal of restrictions that protect the population because it hinders their operations. The longer people attempt to work for commercial insterest instead of protecting the health of people the longer this virus will control our lives. This has been seen in multiple jurisidictions where those with strong health controls have now controlled the virus (at the initial expense of their economy) to now be working mostly virus free and are reaping the rewards of the economic rebound. Instead of those that prioritise the economy and have the virus drag on and on and on with every increasing (albeit too late) controls.

    NZ has shown a harsh sharp response to an outbreak leads to less overall restrictions and a better result.

  • Richard


    I’m with Ben – the IATA just needs to listen to the medical experts. Would the IATA trust an opinion on how to run the airline industry from doctors??

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