Airlines industry outlines new safety measures with air travel set to resume

In order to mitigate issues surrounding COVID-19, airports and airlines are recommending a layered approach to stop-gap safety measures with air travel set to restart.

A single measure on its own will not mitigate all of the risks revolving around the coronavirus disease COVID-19.

These measures, laid out by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Airports Council International (AIC) are aimed at reassuring governments that it is safe for the public to fly, includes temperature screening, contact tracing, social distancing, wearing masks and extra cleaning.

“Successfully restarting air passenger travel while restoring confidence in the safety of air travel are vital pre-requisites to enabling the global economy to recover from COVID-19,” said IATA in the briefing document yet to be made public. “In normal times, aviation delivers $2.7 trillion in global GDP contribution.”

Both, the ACI and the IATA declined to comment specifically on the document, with saying they are working with industry partners on a consistent global approach.

Airports and airlines around the globe are implementing measures which requires wearing masks and leaving the middle seat empty.

According to the briefing documents, while the industry supports vigorous and reliable COVID-19 testing measures, conducting antibody tests at the airport is not a viable solution at the moment at airports; moreover there is no confirmed evidence, yet, that antibodies tests confer immunity, said the IATA and ACI in the document.

Should health-screening measures be adopted at airports, it would have to be done long before passengers arrive at the airport, said the document.

Temperature checks during entry and exit at airports are unlikely to be 100% effective since they are likely to miss asymptomatic passengers and even mid cases; they could however play a role in reassuring passengers and deter air travel in case of suspected infections, said the IATA and ACI in the document.

Social distancing should be limited to the initial restart phase since they will cap airport and aircraft capacity once travel demand grows, said the document.

Security screening as well as health screenings should be mutually recognized when possible so that transfer passengers do not need to line up and be re-screened, which will lead to additional human contact, said the IATA and ACI.

“There is currently no single measure that could mitigate all the risks of restarting air travel,” said the document.

“However, we believe that an effective implementation on an outcome basis and layered approach, of the above-mentioned range of measures that are already possible, represents the most effective way of balancing risk mitigation with the need to unlock economies and to enable travel in the immediate term.”

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