Aviation, tourism industries depend on cooperation among member state, MEP says

Maltese MEP Josianne Cutajar says that she has not yet made up her mind as to the possible viablity of an EU-wide COVID passport for citizens who have been vaccinated, but insists member states need to work together if the tourism and aviation industries are to survive the pandemic

Maltese MEP Josianne Cutajar
Maltese MEP Josianne Cutajar

Greater cooperation among EU member states is needed to save Europe’s tourist and aviation industries, Maltese MEP Josianne Cutajar has claimed.

And although health remains a competence of each individual state, countries must at least work together to have common practices and standards in place, she said.

Cutajar, a member of S&D group in the European Parliament and a member of the EP’s Transport Committee, was addressing Maltese press during an online briefing organised by the EP’s representative office in Malta.

Referring to calls for an EU-wide Covid-passport to allow EU citizens who have been vaccinated to travel, she said that the committee had not yet officially debated the matter.

“However there is much informal discussion going on, even amongst us MEPs, as to the viability of such a system, both ethically and structurally,” Cutajar said.

She said that such a scheme would have to be debated and approved by the EP’s transport committee, health committee and the committee for the internal market.

“However, we would need to ensure that we do not create a second-class citizenship and that we avoid institutionalising inequality among citizens,” she said.

Cutajar said she herself had not yet made up her mind on such a scheme but insisted that other measures – such as more coordination between states, as well as streamlining quarantine and isolation rules for incoming tourists – would already go a long way to alleviating fears.

Last year, the European Commission suspended the 80/20 slot rule for airlines, as the effects of the pandemic on the tourism and aviation industries became apparent.

Under the scheme, airlines were contracted to use at least 80% of their slots reserved at airports or risk losing those slots. For airlines like Air Malta, who had amanged to secure advantageous slots at a number of airports such as London Heathrow, the loss of said slots would be financially crippling.

Now, the Commission has agreed with industry players to reintroduce the scheme, but airlines will only be bound to fulfil at least 50% of their slots.

Under the agreement, the Commission will be able to revise the scheme ahead of the winter schedule, limited to lowering or increasing the slot usage to between 30% and 70%.

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