L2B Attorneys Weigh In On COVID Entry Permissions & Violations
Well into year two of the pandemic, and the world is slowly yet steadily adjusting to the “new normal” imposed by COVID. Certain countries are experiencing rapid and efficient vaccination roll-outs, while others are preparing for third waves as they anxiously await what could be months until an approved vaccine is distributed. On the travel front, border entry regulations and airline policies change frequently and differ country-to-country.
We tapped into L2B’s aviation attorney network to better understand what makes entry permissions so tricky, including what we should know about violations to help prevent them in the future.
Harsh monetary penalties
At the outset of the pandemic, there weren’t authorities in place to check whether passengers completed the compulsory testing or confirm that test results were negative and filed prior to boarding the aircraft. That has, of course, changed. In Germany, for example, first violations can cost airlines up to 10,000 euros, and local lawyers expect to see an increase in administrative fine proceedings from local aviation authorities as a result.
The difficulty of controlling the “human factor”
“The human factor is the problem,” explains Uli Steppler, attorney at Germany’s Arnecke Sibeth Dabelstein. “If you have 5,000 passengers and 10 slip through, you end up paying 100,000 euros. That is more than what you make for the entire flights, so the margin is gone.”
Getting into the nitty-gritty of COVID test “type”
In order to enter Brazil, travelers must show negative results from a PCR test — but it must be “real time,” meaning the letters “RT” need to be present. If you don’t have those two letters, you are barred from entering and subject to fines. Details like this are easy to miss, which increases the rate of violations and, in turn, penalties. “There is a lack of harmonization,” argues Gonzao Yelpo of Uruguay’s Yelpo & Facal. “Every country is asking for a different thing.”
How well informed are airline employees?
In certain jurisdictions, such as Israel, L2B lawyer Eyal Doron suggests that the “weak point” may be the fact that there’s no point person in charge of remaining on top of the latest in legislation and translating that to the airlines (especially to non-Israeli airlines, to which the local legislation is less accessible due to the language barrier). Other countries, however, such as Germany, have found the opposite to be true. “I’m actually surprised at how well-informed people are with the legislation,” explains Steppler. “There’s resources and money to inform staff on a daily basis, so airlines are well-informed on what they have to do and what the test and entry requirements are.”
The bottom line
Entry permissions — and the violations surrounding them — have proven to be a contentious and ever-evolving issue throughout COVID. L2B’s lawyers are experts in their jurisdiction, possessing specialized knowledge in the aviation industry to successfully represent airlines, financiers, lessors, manufacturers, insurers, airports, and expert credit agencies.