Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Harmonised Approach to Covid-19 Required by Air Transport Industry

Latest Report Emphasises Unanimity of Approach
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE – The second edition of a report covering how best to deal with the pandemic currently crucifying the air travel sector produced by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has been warmly welcomed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The report ‘Take-off: Guidance for Air Travel through the Covid-19 Public Health Crisis’ was put together by the ICAO’s Council Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART), which brings together the expertise of the ICAO, public health authorities, individual member states, and industry bodies to support it. Under its leadership, the first edition of the Take-off guidance was issued in June 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This provided the groundwork for the multi-layered biosafety measures already implemented by the industry, such as physical distancing, the wearing of face coverings or masks, routine sanitation and disinfection, health screening, contact tracing and passenger health declaration forms.

The following three recommendations are being added to the Take-off guidance with the full support of IATA:

  • Covid-19 Testing With some States considering the use of testing and with the availability of improved Covid-19 testing technology, there is a need for guidance material to facilitate harmonisation. This is being developed in a Manual on Testing and Cross Border Risk Management Measures and will be a key enabler of IATA’s call for systematic testing before departure for international travellers.
  • Public Health Corridors or Travel Bubbles ICAO is asking States which are considering the formation of a Public Health Corridor (PHC, more commonly known as travel bubbles) to actively share information with each other to implement these in a harmonised manner. To facilitate implementation of PHCs, the ICAO Implementation Package (iPack) on establishing a PHC is available to States.
  • Extending regulatory alleviations till 31 March 2021 While maintaining the highest standards for safety, Covid-19 has forced the industry to temporarily adapt certain regulatory processes, especially those related to staff qualification and training. Unless circumstances dictate otherwise, the Take-off guidance recommends that such alleviations should not be extended beyond 31 March 2021. It is essential that States consider flight crew as ‘key workers’ to benefit from PHCs and are encouraged to enable access to medical and training facilities. This includes flight simulation training devices used for flight crew to maintain certifications, how recent was experience and proficiency for licensed personnel.

As might be expected Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO cannot wait to see the industry return to some sort of normality. He said of the report:

“The public should be reassured. The Take-off guidance will keep flying safe through this pandemic with recommendations that combine the best advice of public health authorities such as the World Health Organization with the technical expertise of aviation regulators and operators.

”By addressing the need for harmonised Covid-19 testing requirements as part of a multi-layered approach, CART is also contributing to building confidence among governments to manage the risks of Covid-19 importation while removing barriers to travel such as quarantines. The aim is to safely reconnect the world and these recommendations are moving us forward.”

Photo: Courtesy of ICAO.