The new ICAO take off guidance ensures safe flying during COVID-19: IATA

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has urged the public to be reassured about safer air travel as the newly issued International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) take-off guidance is expected to ensure safe flying during this pandemic.

The second edition of “Take-off: Guidance for Air Travel through the COVID-19 Public Health Crisis,” published by the ICAO Council Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) brings together the expertise of the organization, public health authorities, individual member states and industry bodies to create coordination among COVID-19 testing requirements.

The first edition of the guidance was issued in June 2020, which built a base for the multi-layer biosafety measures including social distancing, wearing face masks, sanitization and disinfection, passenger health declaration form and contact tracing.

The current take-off guidance by ICAO focuses on generating a level of confidence among the government bodies to control the risks of COVID-19 importation while removing the travel restrictions like quarantines, IATA stated.

“The aim is to safely reconnect the world and these recommendations are moving us forward”, says Alexandre de Juniac, director general and CEO of IATA.

As some countries consider the use of improved COVID-19 testing technology, there is a need to develop a harmonized guidance material, the Manual on Testing and Cross Border Risk Management Measures put forward the idea of a systematic testing procedure for international travelers before boarding.

In the guidance, ICAO is asking states which are planning the formation of a Public Health Corridor (PHC) or travel bubbles to share relevant information to implement coordination.

While ensuring the highest safety standards, the COVID-19 has forced the aviation sector to temporarily take on certain regulatory steps, particularly in staff qualification and training. The current Take-off guidance suggests that such problems should not be extended beyond March 31, 2021. Countries must consider the flight crew as ‘key workers’ to be benefited from PHC and are encouraged to enable access to medical and training facilities.