Airlines urge the G7 nations to help international travel

The airline industry is ratcheting up its campaign to ease border restrictions and allow more international travel — even by people who aren’t vaccinated against coronavirus — despite high infection rates in many countries.

The industry’s trade group, the International Air Transport Association, said Wednesday that governments should use screening measures, such as testing passengers for the virus, rather than imposing quarantines and other restrictions.

The group cited studies that indicate vaccinated travelers pose little risk of spreading COVID-19. To bolster its argument to let unvaccinated people travel too, the airline group said only 2.2% of travelers to the United Kingdom between late February and early May tested positive for COVID-19 after arrival.

“There is no risk-free approach,” the group’s top official, Willie Walsh, the former CEO of British Airways and Aer Lingus, told reporters. Governments need to accept some risk “and get on with our lives,” he said.

The comments underscore the concern among airline officials that a recovery in travel might not be fast enough to make the peak summer vacation season a success. They hope that officials from the wealthy G7 countries agree to ease travel restrictions during or before a summit meeting of leaders in England next week.