Dubai Airport’s CEO has said that vaccine passports, also known as COVID passports, are the only viable way to restart mass foreign travel.
Paul Griffiths, the chief of the world’s busiest airport for international passengers, told the media: “I don’t think there is an alternative.” The measure has been rejected by critics of digital systems, who argue that they discriminate against those who cannot get the shot.
However, Mr. Griffiths stated that he is in favor of the documents, claiming that they are “inevitable.”
“I think the problem is not the vaccine passport and its discrimination. It’s the need to roll things out and have a proper globally equitable vaccine program,” Mr. Griffiths said. The World Health Organization and the World Travel & Tourism Council have also opposed travel passports as they fear the documents could create a “two-tier society.”
Last month, Dr. Mike Ryan from the WHO raised concerns about the fairness and ethical issues surrounding COVID Passports.
“They do need to be considered, especially in a world where vaccine is distributed in such a grossly inequitable way,” he stated.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has caused a 70% drop in the passengers’ number at Dubai airport. The aviation industry has been trying to find ways to speed up after the damage caused by government restrictions and the loss of passenger confidence.
The Air Transport Action Group said it was making an annual contribution of $3.5 trillion to the global economy before the health crisis.
However, with border closures and international travel bans, the number of travelers passing through Dubai International Airport has seen drops as the rest of the industry.
Although 2020 was Dubai’s seventh year in a row as the world’s busiest airport for international passengers, the figures plummeted as the pandemic suspended flights.
A record 86.3 million people reportedly passed through in 2019, but the numbers fell 70% to 25.8 million last year. Mr. Griffiths wants the number to increase again but states that “we need to get into risk management rather than risk avoidance.”
“I just don’t think the world can survive without that mobility for much longer, certainly socially and economically,” he added.
“But you can understand why countries around the world are being very conservative. The last thing any politician wants is a surge of infection on their turf,” he went on. Later, he explained that international air travel is going to get moving again, but “it’s up to the countries to decide what the entry requirements are, and it’s up to the airlines and the airports around the world to enforce it.”
“If this all works, and everyone comes together, vaccine passports will be a very, very simple way of us traveling without documents around the world,” Mr. Griffiths stated.