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Global protocol in works to reopen international travel (IANS Exclusive)

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By Rohit Vaid

New Delhi, Jan 26 (IANS) Global parlays on additional safety measures required for reopening of international flight operations are underway.

Accordingly, talks have started at the International Air Transport Association on “ways and means” to restart the economically important business activity.

Industry insiders have pointed out that such talks might also be initiated at the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

Notably, global industry’s consensus seems to be building on framing a protocol which allows vaccinated persons to travel beyond their national borders.

However, given the different approaches in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, these international talks have progressed at a snail’s pace.

According to Civil Aviation Ministry’s Joint Secretary Usha Padhee: “To brace the airlines from such pandemic in future, IATA is exploring the possibility of having a travel pass.”

“A balanced approach for risk based measures in containing pandemics and promoting travelling has to be considered by many countries.”

At present, India has extended the ban on international flights till January 31, 2021.

The restriction was first imposed during March 2020 to curb the spread of pandemic.

On the other hand, the suspension does not impact the evacuation, ‘air bubble’ and cargo flights from being operated.

Besides, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has requested the Health Ministry to consider inoculating airline and airport staff in the second stage of the vaccination drive.

“We have already submitted an application and requested the Ministry of Health to consider the airline and airport staff in the second stage of vaccination since they are involved in travel and also in the vaccine movement,” Padhee said.

India launched the biggest vaccination drive in the world on January 16.

The programme is backed up by the country’s comparative advantage of having the largest vaccine manufacturing capacity in the world and a rich experience of mass inoculation drives against polio and measles.

Currently, India plans to vaccinate around 300 million of its population by July 2021.

(Rohit Vaid can be contacted at rohit.v@ians.in)

–IANS

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