Government action can still save summer, European airlines say

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European governments can still salvage the summer tourist season despite COVID-19 vaccine setbacks and resurgent infections, if they take joint action on digital health passes and travel rules, airline chief executives said on Thursday.

“Travel in Europe will be possible this summer if EU governments deliver,” industry group Airlines for Europe said in a presentation hosted by the CEOs of Air France-KLM, easyJet, TUI Airlines and Volotea.

Renewed lockdowns and slow vaccine rollouts have raised the spectre of another weak European summer that would leave indebted airlines in need of more cash and further damage the travel and tourism sector, which accounted for 10% of pre-pandemic jobs and 9% of economic output.

Governments also face political pressures to loosen restrictions as the crisis drags on. German Chancellor Angela Merkel had to ditch plans for a circuit-breaker lockdown over Easter.]

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary this week urged UK consumers to ignore official advice against booking foreign travel.

The European Parliament voted on Thursday to fast-track work on an EU digital certificate allowing travellers to show evidence of COVID-19 vaccinations, immunity or negative tests.

Airlines are pushing governments to drop blanket travel bans and quarantines and instead allow consumers meeting those criteria to travel without restriction.

(Reporting by Laurence Frost, Additional reporting by Marine Strauss in Brussels; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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