Dhaka: International Air Transport Association (IATA) has urged governments to quickly implement the ICAO’s global guidelines for restoring air connectivity.
The ICAO Council has published 'Take Off' a comprehensive framework of risk-based temporary measures for air transport operations during the COVID19 crisis.
“The universal implementation of global standards has made aviation safe,” said Alexandre de Juniac, Director General and CEO, IATA. “A similar approach is critical in this crisis so that we can safely restore air connectivity as borders and economies reopen. The Take Off guidance document was built with the best expertise of government and industry. Airlines strongly support it. Now we are counting on governments to implement the recommendations quickly, because the world wants to travel again and needs airlines to play a key role in the economic recovery. And we must do this with global harmonisation and mutual recognition of efforts to earn the confidence of travelers and air transport workers.”
Take Off proposes a phased approach to restarting aviation and identifies a set of generally applicable risk-based measures. In line with recommendations and guidance from public health authorities, these will mitigate the risk of transmission of the COVID-19 virus during the travel process.
Measures include: physical distancing to the extent feasible and implementation of “adequate risk-based measures where distancing is not feasible, for example in aircraft cabins”; wearing of face coverings and masks by passengers and aviation workers; routine sanitation and disinfection of all areas with potential for human contact and transmission; health screening, which could include pre and post-flight self-declarations, as well as temperature screening and visual observation, “conducted by health professionals”; contact tracing for passengers and aviation employees. Updated contact information should be requested as part of the health self-declaration, and interaction between passengers and governments should be made directly though government portals; passenger health declaration forms, including self-declarations in line with the recommendations of relevant health authorities. Electronic tools should be encouraged to avoid paper; and testing: if and when real-time, rapid and reliable testing becomes available.
“This layering of measures should give travellers and crew the confidence they need to fly again. And we are committed to working with our partners to continuously improve these measures as medical science, technology and the pandemic evolve,” said de Juniac.
Take Off was one element of work of the ICAO COVID19 Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART).
The CART report to the ICAO Council highlighted that it is of “paramount importance to avoid a global patchwork of incompatible [aviation] health safety measures”. It urges ICAO Member States to “implement globally- and regionally-harmonized, mutually accepted measures that do not create undue economic burdens or compromise the safety and security of civil aviation”.
The report also notes that COVID19 risk mitigation measures “should be flexible and targeted to ensure that a vibrant and competitive global aviation sector will drive the economic recovery”.
“The leadership of ICAO and the commitment of our fellow CART members have combined to quickly lay the foundation for a safe restoration of air transport amid the COVID19 crisis. We salute the unity of purpose that guided aviation’s stakeholders to a solid conclusion. Moreover, we fully support CART’s findings and look forward to working with governments for a well-coordinated systematic implementation that will enable flights to resume, borders to open and quarantine measures to be lifted,” said de Juniac.
The Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) has also welcomed the ICAO’s push to coordinate efforts in restarting international air travel.
Subhas Menon, Director General, AAPA said, “We applaud ICAO's leadership in developing such comprehensive guidance for states and industry stakeholders in a short period of time. We believe the timely implementation of these measures will allow for a progressive resumption of international air travel, whilst providing passengers and crew with the necessary assurances that all appropriate steps are being taken to safeguard health and safety. The ICAO task force recommendations provide a comprehensive framework to better align national and regional health protection measures with agreed global standards. Asian airlines remain fully committed to working closely with government agencies, airports and other stakeholders to ensure that air travel remains safe, secure and convenient.”
“We urge governments to move ahead with initiatives to restart international aviation in line with broader recovery plans, by adopting a range of pragmatic and sensible measures that are globally and regionally harmonised, and mutually accepted, as outlined by ICAO. A number of countries in the Asia Pacific region are already taking the lead by engaging in constructive discussions with other governments to restore air links and support the resumption of both business and leisure travel. Trade and tourism are key contributors to economic and social development and will be important elements in supporting wider economic recovery,” added Menon.