Aviation bodies have condemned the EU decision to follow the UK and some individual member states by recommending negative pre-departure Covid-19 tests be required of all travellers from China as the country’s borders re-open.

Airlines for Europe (A4E), which represents Europe’s leading carriers, joined Iata and airports association ACI Europe in issuing a joint statement calling the EU decision yesterday “regrettable” and “a knee-jerk reaction”.

The EU also called for random Covid-19 tests on arrivals from China and testing of wastewater at airports and on aircraft arriving from the country.

The industry associations pointed out the EU decision “is at odds with the assessment published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on 3 January”.

The ECDC assessment was that the Covid-19 variants circulating in China are already present in the EU, where there is a high level of immunity due to vaccination.

However, Airlines for Europe, Iata and ACI Europe urged EU member states to respond uniformly in imposing the tests, saying: “It is vital the recommendations are implemented by EU member states in a fully uniform manner.”

They also welcomed the additional recommendation to test wastewater, suggesting it should be seen as an alternative to testing passengers.

But the associations insisted such testing “needs to be carried out by the competent health authorities, as airport and airline staff are not qualified to do so”.

The EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and ECDC are expected to publish guidance on passenger and wastewater testing within days.

A4E, ACI Europe and Iata also urged the EU to reconsider the decision “at the earliest opportunity”.

The UK government announced on December 30 that passengers flying from mainland China to England would need a negative Covid-19 pre-departure test (PDT) from today (January 5) and will face randomised testing on arrival from January 8.

Its move followed similar measures imposed by Italy, Spain, the US, India, Japan, Korea and Malaysia.

EU officials meeting on Wednesday followed suit, issuing a statement saying: “Member states are strongly encouraged to introduce . . . the requirement for a negative Covid-19 test taken not more than 48 hours prior to departure from China.”

They also recommended passengers on flights to and from China wear face masks. The measures will be reviewed in mid-January.

An EC spokesperson said “the overwhelming majority of countries” were in favour of introducing pre-departure testing.

This content was originally published here.