Airports Council International (ACI) World and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have urged that costs related to public health measures aimed at mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases should be borne by governments.
In a joint statement, the two organisations highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on the industry and broader economy has effectively grounded the world’s airlines, leading to multi-billion losses in revenue and traffic.
They reiterated that the health and safety of passengers and staff remains the foremost priority for airports and airlines, while noting that the ICAO, through its Council Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART), has resolved to work with its member states, international and regional organisations, and industry to address the challenges and to provide global guidance towards safely restarting the aviation sector. Indeed, ICAO’s TakeOff guidelines outlined several new measures, such as social distancing, heath checks and sanitation for safeguarding public health, which are already being introduced by airports and airlines around the world.
ACI and ICAO, while emphasising that the TakeOff measures must be introduced by the world’s governments, are also calling for airlines, airports and other operational stakeholders to be included in any discussions the authorities have when implementing their responses to the COVID-19 crisis. They are concerned that a “patchwork of different frameworks risks confusing travellers” and that would introduce inefficiencies and unnecessary costs on passengers, airports, and airlines.
ACI World director, Luis Felipe de Oliveira, said: “As the industry navigates the complexities of restarting operations, ACI believes the cost of any health measures that are required should be borne by governments. ACI and IATA are aligned on this issue, as set out in the Safely Restarting Aviation — ACI and IATA Joint Approach which was our input to ICAO’s TakeOff guidance. This laid out that public funding of health measures should be ensured, including but not limited to infrastructure or operational changes needed for their implementation.”
IATA’s director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac, added: “The aviation industry wants to get the world moving again. We have successfully worked with ICAO and many governments worldwide to put in place standardised protocols that safeguard public health and give travellers the confidence to return to the skies. But the industry is still on the edge of a financial precipice. The extra costs of health measures mandated by governments must – as the WHO recommends – be borne by governments. That will enable the industry to focus scarce resources on reconnecting the world and boosting economic recovery.”