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Airlines want countries to ease travel measures

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Kenya Airways (KQ) aircraft lands at JKIA, Nairobi, August 2020. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

African airlines have urged governments to relax Covid-19 restrictions on travel to help the struggling tourism industry.

Through the African Airlines Association (Afraa), the companies want countries to cease using Covid-19 vaccination certificates as a requirement for passengers to gain entry into countries.

Instead, the association wants states to continue using pre-departure testing until vaccines become widespread.

This is in line with changes in diagnosis as some countries transitio to the use of rapid antigen testing as an alternative to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) as the standard.

Afraa said in a statement that the antigen test has proven to have similar reliability to the PCR test and is significantly cheaper, besides taking just 30 minutes to get results.

“States should not impose Covid-19 vaccination certificates as a mandatory travel entry and exit requirement until there is satisfactory access to vaccines globally, reasonable vaccination coverage is attained, and sufficient guidance on the use of the vaccine for travel is available based on recommendations of the World Health Organisation,” said Afraa Secretary-General Abdérahmane Berthé.

The association pointed to countries’ low levels of vaccination, whose implementation is supposed to reboot economies and facilitate movement of persons.

“To date, less than six per cent of Africans are fully vaccinated. Vaccination will mitigate the greatest risks of the spread of the pandemic,” Afraa said.

Mr Berthé said 2021 marked the dawn of recovery with positive trends in air transport activity being witnessed across the globe.

As of October 2021, he said, African airlines had reopened 81.3 per cent of their international routes that had been closed due to the pandemic, with African cargo capacity growing by 33 per cent since 2019.

 

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