Some travel restrictions not based on science, claims airlines chief

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Some governments are not “necessarily” making decisions on travel restrictions in line with science, according to Europe’s largest airline association.

Thomas Reynaert, managing director of Airlines for Europe, was speaking to Euronews after European and other countries around the world put restrictions on flights from southern Africa following the detection of the Omicron variant.

“We’ve worked in the aviation sector really very hard over the past year and a half to restore consumer confidence,” Reynaert said. “And it is a pity that reactions from some governments, which are not necessarily science-based, make it very difficult for the sector.

“In Europe, in particular, the aviation sector has been suffering a lot because of the COVID crisis and has done so much to recover,” he added.

The airline industry has struggled since the beginning of the pandemic, with travel restrictions limiting people’s movements.

It has managed to return to near-normal in recent months, however, but with the emergence of the new Omicron variant and fresh measures being imposed across Europe, the sector is likely to experience some turbulence in the new year.

For Eduardo Santander, executive director of the European Travel Commission, it’s all about avoiding erratic rules and striking a balance.

“Any kind of uncertainty is a killer for the sector. Nobody wants to go on holiday if there’s fear around uncertainties,” Santander told Euronews. “I think, even ourselves, as private people probably would not plan a holiday knowing or not knowing what’s next. I think the important factor here is how are we going to balance mobility with safety and health.”

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Joanna Kaminska, a foreign worker who lives and works in Brussels, says the uncertainty is casting a shadow over her Christmas plans to go back home to Poland.

“I am a little bit worried, of course, to what extent [this] is going to impact the plans and to what extent [this] is going to cause some kind of additional limitation to the movement,” Kaminska said. “I do plan to go home to Poland, as I do for every Christmas and I do it a couple of times per year. So, of course, I have planned a little bit ahead. Especially [as] the tickets are super expensive.”

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