Governments across the Middle East should ‘rapidly implement’ globally recognised guidelines to kickstart safe aviation, say air transport associations.
Airports Council International (ACI) Asia-Pacific, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and International Civil Aviation Organization Middle East (ICAO MID) are urging authorities to follow ICAO’s Council Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) Report.
Approved on 1 June and *endorsed by travel retail associations, the CART report outlines steps for a safe and harmonised restoration of air connectivity.
The ICAO CART report advocates a phased approach to the restart by taking into consideration risk-based measures informed by recommendations to mitigate against the risk of coronavirus (Covid-19) transmission.
SEVEN BILLION DOLLAR LOSSES
These include social distancing, wearing face coverings and masks, routine sanitisation and disinfection, health screenings, passenger declarations, contact tracing and testing.
The Middle East’s air transport sector has been decimated by the pandemic, with ACI Asia-Pacific forecasting passenger volumes to plummet by 56% and 47% for airlines and airports, respectively, in 2020 year-on-year.
Airlines are tipped to record net losses of US$4.8 billion, coupled with a passenger revenue hole of US$24bn.
Meanwhile, airports in the region are estimated to shed $7bn in revenues, a 52% decline in 2020 year-on-year.
“We are counting on governments in the Middle East to implement the ICAO Take-off Guidance quickly and in a harmonised and mutually recognised way, because the world wants to travel again and needs airlines to play a key role in the economic recovery,” commented Muhammad Albakri, Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, IATA.
Stefano Baronci, Director General, ACI Asia-Pacific said: “ The ICAO Take-off Guidance document is fully aligned with our industry’s focus on passenger and employee wellbeing.
“We urge the Middle East states to swiftly implement the guidelines so we can ensure truly harmonised and effective measures across the region and passengers can return to air travel with confidence.
“As rightly stated in the ICAO guidance, states should continuously readjust the measures depending on their effectiveness to reduce the risk of transmission and scalability, especially as soon as traffic ramps up again to certain volumes of traffic.
“Airports need health authorities to work cooperatively with them to adapt physical distancing to specific layout and operations.”
EUROPE: LIFT R.O.W RESTRICTIONS
IATA and ACI Europe joined Airlines for Europe (A4E) in welcoming the lifting of intra-EU travel restrictions and quarantines earlier this week (15 June).
The associations have already expressed support for the European Commission’s proposed phasing out of restrictions on travel to/from other countries from 1 July.
This week, ACI Europe has published 10 recommendations and 10 commitments aimed at passengers, communities, authorities and national and European institutions echoing Europe’s commitment to the restart.
All three are urging all EU and associated states to follow comprehensive health and safety protocols for the safe restart of aviation, released last month by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC).
Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI Europe stated last week: “The aviation industry has the safety of its passengers, staff and communities running through its DNA. As we all re-emerge from the peak of the pandemic, airports and airlines are right there at the forefront of ensuring that we can all kick-start our economies – and frankly our daily lives – with confidence and security.
“This is why it is essential that governments play ball and now fully lift the remaining restrictions to intra-Europe travel. They also need to follow the plan set out by the Commission to start lifting restrictions with the rest of the world.”
Thomas Reynaert, Managing Director of A4E added: “Lifting border restrictions and health-related measures following a coordinated and risk-based approach is important to make travelling a smooth and enjoyable experience again.
“We all want to see people enjoy air travel as they did before the coronavirus crisis. These welcome developments also shine a light on the need for the UK to urgently reconsider its stance regarding the current blanket quarantine applying to anyone entering the country.”
*To read a more detailed analysis of the duty free and travel retail industry’s response to Covid-19 and its associated submissions to the ICAO Task Force report, click here.