The International Air Transport Association (Iata) – the representative body for the global airline industry – has called on governments around the world to swiftly implement the guidelines developed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO – a specialist agency of the United Nations) to reinstate global air traffic, severely disrupted by measures intended to counter the Covid-19 pandemic. The guidelines were approved by the ICAO Council on June 1.
The guidelines are contained in a document entitled Takeoff: Guidance for Air Travel through the Covid-19 Health Crisis, known as Takeoff for short. This provided a comprehensive and authoritative framework for temporary risk-based measures to permit a phased restoration of air passenger travel around the world.
“The universal implementation of global standards has made aviation safe,” highlighted Iata director-general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac. “A similar approach is critical in this crisis so that we can safely restore air connectivity as borders and economies reopen. The Takeoff guidance document was built with the best expertise of government and industry. Airlines strongly support it.”
There are a number of key measures recommended by the document. Thus, physical distancing must be enforced, when and where feasible, with alternative risk-based measures where this was not possible, as in airliner cabins. Aviation workers and passengers should wear face masks. All areas with the potential for human contact and disease transmission should be routinely sanitised and disinfected.
Other key measures were health screening, including visual observation and temperature screening by health professionals, and self-declarations before and after flights; requiring passengers to fill in (preferably electronically) health declaration forms, including self-declarations, in accordance with the recommendations of public health authorities; contact tracing for both aviation employees and passengers, with updated contact information required as part of a health self-declaration; and, when and if it becomes reliable and real-time, testing.
“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,” he urged. “And we must do this with global harmonisation and mutual recognition of efforts to earn the confidence of travellers and air transport workers.”
The fact that the guidelines provided multi-layered measures should, he believed, give the confidence to both air passengers and air crews to resume flying. “[W]e are committed to working with our partners to continuously improve these measures as medical science, technology and the pandemic evolve,” he assured.