Malaysian airline AirAsia has issued a call for ASEAN nations to develop standardized travel requirements in an effort to expedite the return of some international air travel.
The company announced Thursday that it had completed a review of the COVID-19 procedures and protocols implemented in countries across the region, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, China and Australia, and found that travel requirements and restrictions vary considerably in each.
In particular, the review noted that most regional travel is still restricted to business and essential travelers only but suggested many countries have failed to update their requirements to reflect the constantly changing global situation. A key recommendation is for the expansion of travel bubbles for leisure travelers to be implemented in phases, starting with destinations in safe zones, to provide a launch pad for the recovery of the tourism industry.
“COVID-19 has left a severe impact on everyone and particularly on the travel and hospitality industries,” said AirAsia Group President, Airlines, Bo Lingam.
“In order to resume cross border travel activity effectively and safely, a mutually agreed global framework approach is needed.
“Travel requirements in the region are currently complex and uncoordinated and travel bubbles are limited and underutilized. While we welcome the implementation of certain travel passes which are currently being developed or in testing phases, what is needed to stimulate international air travel again, is coordination among countries.
“The travel and tourism industry must work together with one consistent set of protocols and procedures for guests such as testing and vaccination requirements, coupled with a mutually agreed common digital health pass and with the expansion of travel bubbles to include the leisure sector.
“Resuming air travel is a collective effort. By working together we will be in a much better position to welcome the return of international flying in the not too distant future, delivering a much-needed boost to the global economy.”
Ahead of the expected introduction of globally approved digital passports, AirAsia has recently launched a Scan2Fly procedure whereby guests are able to scan and upload their medical documentation during online check in. The company said it will also soon introduce biometric facial recognition technology across key ports.