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Airlines want vaccine passports but don’t want to pay for them

The EU is moving ahead with plans to roll out a “Digital Green Certificate”—a document to store Covid-19 information such as vaccination records and test results. Governments, airports and airlines hope that will spur travel across the bloc by making it easier to check if passengers have been inoculated.

“Vaccines are what is going to ultimately allow us to start recovering as an industry,” said Olivier Jankovec, director general of Airports Council International Europe, a trade body of airports. “It’s what is going to allow Europeans to be mobile again.”

On Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said people who are fully vaccinated against the new coronavirus can travel without serious risk, easing its blanket advice against travel.

The EU plan is still in flux, but governments are fast-tracking the project for a mid-June rollout. The basic concept: Europeans who are vaccinated will be issued a certificate, either paper or electronic, with a bar code that can be scanned at airports to verify vaccination.

While airlines back the effort, they are lobbying against initial proposals that could hand them the responsibility for making the system work. They also are resisting the idea of bar-code scanning at airports, saying that could increase wait times at check-in. Many airports already are straining with long lines, under the weight of new health checks required of fliers during the pandemic.

The EU is setting up the system similarly to how it polices travel visas for citizens outside the bloc’s normally visa-free zone. While visa inspection is officially done by border guards, airlines have long been assigned the job of checking whether passengers have the right visas before they board. Airlines are subject to fines of up to 10,000 euros, equivalent to $11,700, in some European jurisdictions, if they let a traveler land in a country without the proper visa.

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