The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated travel restrictions have had a devastating impact on air traffic and put at risk millions of jobs that rely on air connectivity. As Europe seeks to reopen, it is essential that operations are marked by consistent implementation of passenger safety procedures across the continent.
EASA and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have developed protocols for the measures airports, airlines and operators should adopt to ensure a safe return to normal operations.
The guidelines address the entire journey from the passenger’s perspective, at the departure airport, on board the aircraft and at arrival. They contain specific, complementary measures devised to ensure the protection of passengers and crews against the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. Passengers are required to take personal responsibility, for example by not even coming to the airport if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
Airlines and airports have been asked to follow enhanced cleaning and disinfection procedures as well as following guidance to ensure the best possible ventilation while on board the aircraft. The quality of air on board is one of the most important mitigating factors against spread of Coronavirus, and most aircraft have high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters installed which sterilise the air to operating theatre quality.
Further measures, such as changes to in-flight service, have been recommended to reduce the risk of transmission through contaminated surfaces. Similar recommendations have been issued by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in its Take-off guidance.
To strengthen the implementation of these measures, Airlines for Europe (A4E), the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have signed a co-operation agreement with EASA to promote the harmonised and co-ordinated implementation of the EASA/ECDC protocols by industry, governments and travellers.