Aviation authorities call on Middle East governments to deploy standardised guidelines
ICAO’s global measures work to restart aviation as safely as possible
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Airports Council International (ACI) Asia-Pacific have joined the International Civil Aviation Organization Middle East (ICAO MID) in urging the governments in the Middle East region to rapidly implement ICAO’s global guidelines.
The ICAO Guidance proposes a phased approach to restarting the industry while outlining risk-based measures in line with public health advice. Measures include physical distancing in airports, the use of personal protection equipment, routine disinfection of all areas with potential for human contact, passenger health declaration forms, contact tracing, health screening and COVID-19 testing.
The organisations are also urging states to identify opportunities where travel restrictions could be lifted, through bilateral or multilateral arrangements.
“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. The guidance recognizes that social distancing is not possible on an aircraft, therefore supports face coverings as part of a layered risk mitigation approach. And recommends contact tracing which should give governments the confidence to open borders without quarantine measures. Local deviations and exceptions will damage public confidence and make it harder to operate effectively slowing down the industry restart. This would be harmful to public health and the economic recovery,” said IATA regional VP for MEA Muhammad Albakri.
IATA explained in a statement: "COVID-19 has torn through the aviation industry in the Middle East. Demand in terms of passenger volumes is forecast to fall 56% in 2020 year-on-year for airlines and 47% for airports. Airlines in the region are expected to post a net loss of US$4.8 billion this year as passenger revenues decline by US$24 billion compared to the previous year. Airports in the region estimated total revenue loss of US$7 billion, representing a 52% year-on-year decline in 2020. Job losses in aviation and related industries in the region could reach 1.2 million and GDP supported by aviation could fall by US$66 billion. Before the COVID-19 crisis aviation supported 2.4 million jobs in the region and generated US$130 billion in GDP."