The global industry body for airlines has said it is “extremely disappointed” by countries’ decisions to introduce restrictions on travellers from China after Covid cases have skyrocketed in the country following Beijing’s decision to ditch its zero-Covid policy.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents around 300 airlines across the globe, described the wave of new measures as a “knee-jerk” response, adding that such policies have proved to be “ineffective over the last three years.”
“Research undertaken around the arrival of the Omicron variant concluded that putting barriers in the way of travel made no difference to the peak spread of infections,” IATA’s director general Willie Walsh said.
Walsh, a former chief executive of British Airways’ parent company IAG, called on politicians around the world to “listen to the advice of experts, including the WHO” and scrap restrictions.
“Governments must base their decisions on ‘science facts’ rather than ‘science politics’,” he added.
Walsh’s comments come after UK transport secretary Mark Harper confirmed that Covid-positive arrivals from China will not be required to quarantine.
He told LBC yesterday that the policy to test arrivals was put in place to “collect information for surveillance purposes” as Covid cases in China have gone through the roof.
“The policy for arrivals from China is primarily about collecting information that the Chinese government is not sharing with the international community,” the minister said.
The UK announced last week that all arrivals to England from China will need to show a negative pre-departure Covid test from tomorrow, while EU health officials will meet today to discuss a common approach.