Ease border restrictions to enable seamless movement of people: Baronci
June 18 2022 09:50 PM
Airports Council International

Airports Council International is committed to continue with advocacy efforts to ensure boarders-restrictions across the region are eased to stimulate the recovery of the industry, according to Stefano Baronci, director general, ACI (Asia-Pacific).
“We have engaged with multiple governments to ensure international travel is seamless,” he said in an exclusive interview with Gulf Times.
On the importance of easing border restrictions, Baronci said aviation industry is an engine of economic growth by facilitating tourism, trade and connectivity.
There are multiple economic benefits that are indirectly linked to the industry. The global economic recovery also heavily depends on aviation industry.
Realising this, he noted, “A majority of countries in our region have abolished pandemic-related travel curbs which will further stimulate the recovery of industry. Testing, quarantine and limitations on foreign arrivals and limitations on tourism, discourage travel and hinder the economic recovery. Therefore, it is crucial that border restrictions are eased to enable seamless movement of people.”
Travel restrictions ranging from mandatory quarantines in designated facilities to pre-departure testing and on arrival; suspension of international air travel in some parts of the region; geopolitical conflict and subsequent impacts on macroeconomic factors have proved to be detrimental to the overall growth of aviation.
In 2020, ACI launched the Airport Health Accreditation programme to assist airports by assessing new health measures and procedures introduced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic against global standards.
The programme provides airports with an assessment of how aligned their health measures are with the ICAO Council Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) Recommendations along with industry best practices.
“We focused on ensuring that airport operations and public health measures were implemented in accordance with ICAO CART recommendations. Due attention was also given to economic survival of the industry and safeguarding interests in the future.”
This, Baronci noted, “is the area where we provided much support to our members, advocating state-support of the industry to the extent possible and risk-based approaches to travel protocols. We also participated in many dialogues with governments and policymakers on the coordinated reopening of the industry.”
Over the past two years, ACI Asia-Pacific has been actively representing the interests of its airport members and world business partners at national, regional and international levels.
“Our team is working closely with ICAO, civil aviation and public health authorities, and other industry stakeholders to facilitate a sustainable recovery in a harmonising manner.”
Nonetheless, Asia-Pacific includes some of the most restrictive markets in the world, where compulsory quarantine, uncoordinated travel restrictions, complicated administrative processes, and repetitive and expensive tests continue impede international travel.
The global spread of the Omicron variant demonstrates the ineffectiveness of travel bans in containing the transmission of Covid-19.
However, such measures continue to contribute to the economic and social stress experienced by many countries. In fact, the WHO statement on international travel restrictions, issued in January 2022, recommended states should consider lifting or modifying measures, such as testing and/or quarantine requirements, based on risk assessments.
In addition, the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine and its subsequent impacts on macroeconomic factors have proved to be detrimental to the overall growth of aviation. The surge in aviation fuel price combined with the blockade of air space across Russia too have added to the woes.
ACI Asia-Pacific will continue to gear up its efforts in advocating a pragmatic and risk-based approach in reopening, coordinated protocols to testing and vaccination, and an interoperable digital health pass as part of an effort to facilitate international travel.
Baronci said the pandemic has certainly changed passengers’ expectations and perceptions in their travel experience with much priority given to public health. Despite the severe loss of revenue, many airports are investing in touchless, self-service technologies to meet hygiene standards, restore passengers’ confidence, and improve travel experience.
The digitalisation and biometric technology can be used to facilitate queuing, expediting check-in and security processes. As a result, airports can efficiently manage peak hour capacity, improve efficiency and lower operating costs, he noted.
On the realistic target to see traffic coming back to pre-Covid levels, Baronci said, “We expect Asia-Pacific and the Middle East to recover at rates between -40% and -50% versus the projected baseline, a reflection of the different reopening approaches taken by governments.
“The Middle East, where air transport markets are predominantly international, took a more pragmatic approach, reopening with health-related safeguards such as testing and vaccinations. The Middle East, where air transport markets are predominantly international, took a more pragmatic approach, reopening with health-related safeguards such as testing and vaccinations.”



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