The first aviation companies have signed up to the European Union Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) charter for the return to normal operations under COVID-19, pledging to work with their national authorities to put measures in place to support health safety – and to report back on their experiences to help other organisations with their real-life implementations.
Ten companies from across Europe have so far declared they will abide by the guidelines developed by EASA and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on request of the European Commission.
The COVID-19 Aviation Health Safety Protocol is based on current scientific information about the spread of COVID-19 and the expert opinion of the two Agencies, and is designed to ensure safe travel for passengers and air personnel.
EASA executive director, Patrick Ky, commented: “I am delighted to welcome these first implementers of our guidelines and charter. These airlines and airports will lead the way in applying the recommended measures and will share their experiences with us. This will help us to reach the ultimate goal of harmonised, health-safe travel across Europe and to destinations beyond.”
The first mover group comprises seven airport operators and three airlines. The former are AENA, Athens International Airport, Brussels Airport Company, Fraport, S.E.A. Aeroporti di Milano, Aéroport Nice Côte d’Azur and Paris CDG Airport. The carriers are Aegean Airlines, easyJet and Wizz Air.
EASA said the challenge for these companies now is to determine exactly how to implement the guidelines in their facilities and services so as to achieve the best possible compliance despite the operational constraints. Its primary recommendations in the guidelines are to observe physical distancing wherever possible, to wear a medical face mask throughout the journey and to practise scrupulous and frequent hand hygiene.
Passengers themselves are expected to take personal responsibility. For example, passengers who have COVID-19 compatible symptoms (fever, cough, sudden loss of smell, shortness of breath) or who are aware that they have come in contact with a COVID-19 case should not even travel to the airport.
EASA expects more airports and airlines to sign up to its programme soon.