During the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries implemented international travel restrictions that aimed to contain viral spread while still allowing necessary cross-border travel for social and economic reasons . The relative effectiveness of these approaches for controlling the pandemic has gone largely unstudied . Here we developed a flexible network meta-population model to compare the effectiveness of international travel policies, with a focus on evaluating the benefit of policy coordination . Because country-level epidemiological parameters are unknown, they need to be estimated from data; we accomplished this using approximate Bayesian computation, given the nature of our complex stochastic disease transmission model . Based on simulation and theoretical insights we find that, under our proposed policy, international airline travel may resume up to 58% of the pre-pandemic level with pandemic control comparable to that of a complete shutdown of all airline travel . Our results demonstrate that global coordination is necessary to allow for maximum travel with minimum effect on viral spread.