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COVID19: Fears of airport ‘chaos’ due to Green Pass checks

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While the EU rolls out the bloc’s Digital Covid Certificates, the European aviation industry warned of “chaos” at airports this summer, caused by the fragmented approach by member states for screening them.

In a joint letter to EU heads of state and governments, ACI Europe, Airlines for Europe, the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) and IATA have warned of hours-long check-in queues at airports.

The digital certificates are designed to enable EU travellers to enter details on whether they have been vaccinated against Covid-19, recently tested negative, or recovered from the disease, to enter other EU countries without facing quarantine restrictions.

Green Passes show authorities at airports via QR codes whether passengers are good to go.

However, the groups warned of a “worrying patchwork of approaches…as passenger traffic increases in the coming weeks, the risk of chaos at European airports is real”.

The letter said the only way to avoid huge queues and delays during the peak summer season was to implement a system whereby both the vaccination certificate and passenger locator forms are processed remotely before the passenger arrives at the airport.

“With the peak summer travel season upon us, the EU thankfully now has a number of tools and measures available to enable and support the restarting of air connectivity, alongside travel and tourism.

“We need Member States to urgently implement these tools in a harmonised and effective manner.

“We view these as essential prerequisites to travel, to avoid long passenger queues and waiting times which would create new health hazards and inevitably result in operational issues for airports and airlines,” said the four associations in their joint letter.

To ensure a smooth travel restart, airlines and airports urge all Member States to:

  • Develop a state portal to facilitate DCC verification directly by national authorities and limit health data processing by airlines. When done off-airport through the state portal, this online verification should result in a standard signal such as a QR code provided by the passenger to the airline to facilitate the issuance of the online boarding pass.
  • Ensure the state portal for DCC verification also integrates the verification of the PLF form, ideally using the EU Digital Passenger Locator Form (dPLF), allowing the seat number to be provided after check-in.
  • Ensure the remaining DCC verification taking place at airports for holders of paper DCCs can be conducted using one single verifier app.
  • Refrain from requesting DCC verification on arrival, as it would serve little medical purpose and could lead to unnecessary queuing.

European aviation remains one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic.

According to the latest Eurocontrol forecast, aviation is not expected to make a full recovery before 20242 at the earliest.

Passenger traffic across the EU/EEA/Swiss airport network was down by -77% in early June compared to pre-pandemic levels.