IATA request govts to implement ICAO’s global guidelines

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on June 02, 2020 Published on June 02, 2020

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) urged governments to quickly implement the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO’s) global guidelines for restoring air connectivity in the midst of Covid-19 pandemic. The measures include physical distancing, wearing a mask, routine sanitation, among others.

The ICAO Council approved Takeoff: Guidance for Air Travel through the COVID-19 Public Health Crisis (Takeoff). This is an authoritative and comprehensive framework of risk-based temporary measures for air transport operations during the Covid-19 crisis.

Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, said: “The universal implementation of global standards has made aviation safe. A similar approach is critical in this crisis so that we can safely restore air connectivity as borders and economies re-open. The Takeoff 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 harmonization and mutual recognition of efforts to earn the confidence of travelers and air transport workers,” said de Juniac.

This comes even as Supreme Court heard a petition on whether to keep middle seats in flights vacant or not. The Court had on May 25, said that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is free to alter its norms in the interest of public health and safety of passengers "rather than of commercial considerations".

Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Monday issued an order citing the Supreme Court observation, in its order said, "The airlines shall allot the seats in such a manner that the middle seat/seat between two passengers is kept vacant if the passenger load and seat capacity permits the same."

BusinessLine had reported that while airlines are not keen on leaving a seat vacant in between rows to ensure social distancing, they are readying alternative plans for starting post-Covid flying operations once the lockdown is lifted. This includes health check-up prior to boarding for fever symptoms, minimising touchpoints of contact between customers and crew, reducing meal choices and withdrawing onboard reading material.

Other suggestions

ICAO, too, has suggested 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 and health screening, which could include pre- and post-flight self-declarations, as well as temperature screening and visual observation, “conducted by health professionals”.

Along with this, ICAO has also proposed 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.

ICAO has also issued guidelines that passenger health declaration forms, including self-declarations in line with the recommendations of relevant health authorities, should be implemented along with the usage of electronic tools encouraged to avoid paper and testing of passengers.

“This layering of measures should give travelers 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.

Takeoff was one element of work of the ICAO Covid-19 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 COVID-19 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 COVID-19 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.

Published on June 02, 2020
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