IATA has unveiled details of its proposed temporary layered approach to biosecurity for re-starting passenger flights amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Biosecurity for Air Transport: A Roadmap for Restarting Aviation outlines the association’s proposal for a layering of temporary biosecurity measures. The Roadmap aims to provide the confidence that governments will need to enable the re-opening of borders to passenger travel; and the confidence that travellers will need to return to flying.
Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO, said: “There is no single measure that will reduce risk and enable a safe re-start of flying. But a layering measures that are globally implemented and mutually recognized by governments can achieve the needed outcome. This is the greatest crisis that aviation has ever faced. A layered approach has worked with safety and with security. It’s the way forward for biosecurity as well.”
Highlights of IATA’s Roadmap include:
Pre-flight, IATA foresees the need for governments to collect passenger data in advance of travel, including health information, which should be accomplished using well-tested channels such as those used for eVisa or electronic travel authorization programs.
At the departure airport, IATA foresees several layers of protective measures:
- !Access to the terminal building should be restricted to airport / airline workers and travelers (with exceptions being made for those accompanying passengers with disabilities or unaccompanied minors)
- Temperature screening by trained government staff at entry points to the terminal building
- Physical distancing through all passenger processes, including queue management
- Use of face coverings for passengers and masks for staff in line with local regulations.
- Self-service options for check-in used by passengers as much as possible to reduce contact points and queues. This includes remote check-in (electronic / home printed boarding passes), automated bag drops (with home printed bag tags) and self-boarding.
- Boarding should be made as efficient as possible with re-designed gate areas, congestion-reducing boarding priorities, and hand luggage limitations.
- Cleaning and sanitization of high touch areas in line with local regulations. This includes wide availability of hand sanitizers.
In-flight, IATA foresees several layers of protective measures:
- Face coverings required for all passengers and non-surgical masks for crew
- Simplified cabin service and pre-packaged catering to reduce interaction between passengers and crew
- !!!Reduced congregation of passengers in the cabin, for example by prohibiting queues for washrooms.
- !!! Enhanced and more frequent deep cleaning of the cabin
At the arrival airport, IATA foresees several layers of protective measures:
- Temperature screening by trained government staff if required by authorities
- Automated procedures for customs and border control including use of mobile applications and biometric technologies (which have already proven tack record by some governments)
- Accelerated processing and baggage reclaim to enable social distancing by reducing congestion and queuing
- Health declarations and robust contact tracing are expected to be undertaken by governments to reduce the risk of imported chains of transmission
IATA also made it clear that these measures should be temporary, regularly reviewed, replaced when more efficient options are identified or removed should they become unnecessary. Specifically, IATA expressed hope in two areas which could be ‘game-changers’ in facilitating efficient travel until a vaccine is found:
COVID-19 testing: IATA supports testing when scalable, accurate and fast results are available. Testing at the start of the travel process would create a ‘sterile’ travel environment that would reassure travelers and governments.
Immunity passports: IATA would support the development of immunity passports to segregate no-risk travellers, at a time when these are backed by medical science and recognized by governments.
The airline industry association also reiterated its opposition to social distancing on board aircraft and quarantine measures on arrival:
- Quarantine measures are obviated by the combination of temperature checks and contract tracing. Temperature screening reduces the risk of symptomatic passengers from traveling, while health declarations and contact tracing after arrival reduce the risk of imported cases developing into local chains of transmission.
- Social distancing on board (leaving the middle seat open) is obviated by the wearing of face coverings by all on board on top of transmission reducing characteristics of the cabin (everybody is front facing, air flow is from ceiling to floor, seats provide a barrier to forward/aft transmission, and air filtration systems that operate to hospital operating theatre standards).
The mutual recognition of globally agreed measures is critical for the resumption of international travel. IATA is reaching out to governments with the Roadmap. This engagement is in support of the COVID-19 Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) which is tasked with developing the global standards needed for the safe re-start of aviation.
Said de Juniac: “The Roadmap is the industry’s high-level thinking on safely re-starting aviation. Timing is critical. Governments understand the importance of aviation to the social and economic recovery of their countries and many are planning a phased re-opening of borders in the coming months.”
IATA’s boss continued: “We have a short time to reach agreement on the initial standards to support safely reconnecting the world and to firmly establish that global standards are essential to success. This will change as technology and medical science advances. The vital element is coordination. If we don’t take these first steps in a harmonized way, we will spend many painful years recovering ground that should not have been lost.”
IATA Board Declares Principles For Industry Re-start
IATA’S Board of Governors has committed to five principles for re-connecting the world by air transport. The principles are:
1. Aviation will always put safety and security first: Airlines commit to work with our partners in governments, institutions and across the industry to:
- Implement a science-based biosecurity regime that will keep our passengers and crew safe while enabling efficient operations.
- Ensure that aviation is not a meaningful source for the spread of communicable diseases, including COVID-19.
2. Aviation will respond flexibly as the crisis and science evolve: Airlines commit to work with our partners in governments, institutions and across the industry to:
- Utilize new science and technology as it becomes available, for example, reliable, scalable and efficient solutions for COVID-19 testing or immunity passports.
- Develop a predictable and effective approach to managing any future border closures or mobility restrictions.
- Ensure that measures are scientifically supported, economically sustainable, operationally viable, continuously reviewed, and removed/replaced when no longer necessary.
3. Aviation will be a key driver of the economic recovery: Airlines commit to work with our partners in governments, institutions and across the industry to:
- Re-establish capacity that can meet the demands of the economic recovery as quickly as possible.
- Ensure that affordable air transport will be available in the post-pandemic period.
4. Aviation will meet its environment targets: Airlines commit to work with our partners in governments, institutions and across the industry to:
- Achieve our long-term goal of cutting net carbon emissions to half of 2005 levels by 2050.
- Successfully implement the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).
5. Aviation will operate to global standards which are harmonized and mutually recognized by governments: Airlines commit to work with our partners in governments, institutions and across the industry to:
- Establish the global standards necessary for an effective re-start of aviation, particularly drawing on strong partnerships with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Ensure that agreed measures are effectively implemented and mutually recognized by governments.
Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO, observed: “Re-starting air transport is important. Even as the pandemic continues, the foundations for an industry re-start are being laid through close collaboration of the air transport industry with ICAO, the WHO, individual governments and other parties. Much work, however, remains to be done. By committing to these principles, the leaders of the world’s airlines will guide the safe, responsible and sustainable re-start of our vital economic sector. Flying is our business. And it is everyone’s shared freedom.”
Go to www.iata.org for more.