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ICAO Releases Covid-19 Guidelines for Aviation Restart

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is urging governments to quickly begin implementing the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) global guidelines in order to restore air connectivity and give travelers and crew the confidence they need to fly again following the Covid-19 crisis.

ICAO recently released Takeoff: Guidance for Air Travel through the COVID-19 Public Health Crisis (Takeoff), which proposes a phased approach to restarting aviation in the post-Covid-19 period 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,” IATA says.

These 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;
  • Testing: if and when real-time, rapid and reliable testing becomes available.

In a media briefing on Wednesday, IATA CEO Alexandre de Juniac underlined the importance of the Takeoff guidance.

“It is a global way forward for aviation… But guidelines mean nothing if they are not implemented. And that is our main message to governments. We have seen the urgency with which some governments have tried to restart aviation. In some cases we have seen measures which are impractical,” de Juniac said.

ICAO’s recommendations take into consideration the expertise of regulators, the World Health Organization and those in the business—airports, airlines, manufacturers etc.

“Now we have Takeoff as a global set of guidance endorsed by governments. That must be the basis on which everybody proceeds. It is the only way to have a harmonized approach that will give travelers the confidence to take to the skies again,” he added.

IATA’s Biosecurity for Air Transport: A Roadmap for Restarting Aviation was the basis for IATA’s contribution to Takeoff. It is being re-named Biosafety for Air Transport: A Roadmap for Restarting Aviation to emphasize the safety focus of the challenge and will be continuously updated to align with the Takeoff recommendations.

ICAO’s Take-off guidance can be found here.

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