Air-France KLM chief slams EU lack of coordination


Airline bosses remain frustrated at the lack of coordination on Covid-19 travel restrictions across Europe despite welcoming a European Council decision to fast-track proposals for an EU ‘digital green certificate’ this week.

Air France-KLM chief executive Ben Smith hit out at the failure to coordinate measures, saying: “We’ve been calling for a coordinated approach for a year now. We still don’t have one.”

Speaking following an Airlines for Europe (A4E) summit, Smith said: “We still don’t have a common passenger locator form. At the last count, there were 13 in place in the EU and some only paper.”

He added: “Right now, most member states have different testing regimes in place.”

For example, at Amsterdam Schiphol, he said: “There is a double testing process in place which does not help.”

Smith argued: “We want to travel by the summer. It is important for our industry that restrictions are coordinated.

“Booking with confidence means having visibility on what restrictions will be in place.”

He said: “We very much welcome the European Council decision to have a digital health certificate and the positive vote [by the European Parliament] to expedite the health certificate. We expect passengers who have been vaccinated or have recovered from the virus to be exempted from all restrictions.

“We are asking for member states to adhere to a harmonised traffic light system. [But] right now we have 27 different systems in place.

“In terms of getting the summer going, the patchwork of rules in place is causing problems.”

Smith added: “Quarantine in any market causes a lot of grief. We would like to see a coordinated approach. To have one country have something different does not help us.”

Johan Lundgren, chief executive of easyJet, said; “It’s clear the crisis is not over with case numbers increasing in a number of countries. But we have a pathway to recovery with the vaccination programme. We need governments to work with us.

“It’s vital Europe sets out a roadmap for lifting national travel restrictions when it’s safe to and we have a framework to do so. At the moment we don’t see it.”

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