The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) on Monday called on governments to exempt airline crews from Covid-19 testing that is applied to air travelers.
The request of the two bodies is in line with the Council Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) guidelines of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
The CART guidelines specifically recommend that crew members should not be subject to screening or restrictions applicable to other travelers. Furthermore, according to CART, health screening methods for crew members should be as “non-invasive as possible.”
However, IATA and IFALPA said “despite this guidance, an increasing number of states are applying the same public health measures for crew that are applied to the general traveling public”. Such measures include providing proof of a negative Covid test prior to departure and in some cases a second negative COVID test is required upon arrival. Furthermore, several civil aviation regulators only allow crew members with a negative Covid-19 PCR test certificate to layover in their respective countries.
“These measures not only contravene the recommended ICAO global guidance, they fail to take into account the fact that interactions with the local population are minimized,” said IATA Senior Vice President, Safety and Flight Operation Gilberto Lopez Meyer.
For example, crew on layover are often restricted to the hotel. Such measures also ignore the fact that airlines already comply with the requirements of their home country health protection and monitoring programs to manage crew health, which typically includes measures to reduce the risk of infection.
In addition to the intrusion and physical discomfort of daily COVID-19 testing, there are significant cost considerations, IATA and IFALPA said. One global airline has estimated the cost of complying with such requirements for a single daily flight would add up to an additional US $950,000 per year.