GUIDANCE FOR AIR TRAVEL THROUGH THE COVID-19 PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS
The CART Takeoff Guidance includes a section about Public Health Risk Mitigation Measures and four operational modules that relate to:
It also contains recommendations for countries that will evaluate passenger medical testing solutions using new ICAO Manual on Testing & Cross-border Risk Management Measures.
Global air transport has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) without precedent. Global passenger traffic volumes fell by 28.4% in the first quarter of 2020. This is equivalent to 612 million passengers per year. The revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) for airlines worldwide were down 94% over the previous year. International RPKs fell 98% as the passenger sector of the industry was practically grounded. International air travel is still very low at -88%, despite second waves of the virus affecting different countries and resulting in renewed travel restrictions. These volumes, both domestic and international, are expected to fall by 50.4 percent for 2020 overall compared with 2019. The ICAO estimates that the COVID-19 effect on scheduled international passenger traffic could lead to a reduction of up to 71% of capacity and a loss of 1.5 billion passengers worldwide by 2020. For 2020, airlines and airports could lose revenue up to 314 trillion USD and 100 trillion USD, respectively.
This document provides a framework to address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global aviation transport system. This document’s appendix contains mitigation measures that can be used to reduce the public health risk for passengers and workers in aviation. It also helps to increase confidence among travelers, workers in aviation, governments, and the global supply chain. This will help to increase demand for both essential and non-essential aviation travel that has been affected by COVID-19. This document contains guidance material that international industry groups have created to help mitigate the effects of COVID-19.
With the support and guidance of civil aviation stakeholders, ICAO recommends a gradual approach to allow safe return to high-volume domestic and international air travel for cargo and passengers. This approach establishes a set of core measures that form an aviation safety protocol to protect passengers and workers from COVID-19. These measures will allow global aviation to grow as it recovers after the current pandemic. However, it is important to remember that every stage of this recovery will require a recalibration. This is in support of the common goals, which include safe air travel, incorporating new public health measures into aviation, and supporting economic recovery. Our work must acknowledge the need to reduce public risk and be sensitive to operationally feasible options for airports, airlines, and other aviation interests. This is crucial to ensure that recovery can be achieved in each stage.
Following the COVID-19 epidemic, states, together with government regulators and airlines, and other stakeholders in the aviation ecosystem, created a series of measures to reduce health risks for passengers, workers, and the general population. These measures are applicable to States, airport operators, and airlines, as well as other stakeholders in the aviation industry. They aim to provide a predictable and consistent travel experience. These measures will help to ensure that passengers and cargo are transported safely, securely, efficiently, and sustainably by air. They also reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission among these groups as well as the general public. These measures will help accelerate and strengthen global recovery from the COVID-19 epidemic.
These measures are applicable to States and airport operators as well as airlines and other members of the air transport industry. They aim to provide a predictable and consistent travel experience. These measures will allow for the safe, secure, efficient, and sustainable air transport of increasing numbers of passengers and cargo. They also reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission among these groups and the public. These measures will help accelerate and strengthen global recovery from the COVID-19 epidemic.
The following guidelines were used by the drafters to help them develop the measures in the appendix.
- Keep your eyes on the fundamentals: Safety, security, and efficiency
- Promoting public health and confidence among passengers, aviation workers, and the general public
- Recognize Aviation As A Driver Of Economic Recovery
These guiding considerations were the basis for the agreement of the drafters that these measures should be adopted.
- Implemented in a multi-layer method proportional to the risk level. This shall not compromise aviation safety or security.
- The sector’s experience over many years will allow them to use the same principles that are used in safety and security risk management. This involves monitoring compliance, reviewing the effectiveness at regular intervals, and adapting to changing requirements and new methods and technologies.
- It is possible to reduce negative operational and efficiency effects while strengthening and promoting aviation public safety and confidence.
- Consistent and coordinated to the best extent possible, but flexible enough to address regional or situational risks-assessment. Acceptance of comparable measures that are based on internationally accepted criteria and shared principles will be fundamental to restoring air services at a global level.
- backed by medical evidence and in line with best health practices
- Transparent, non-discriminatory and evidence-based
- Cost-effective, proportionate, and not undermining the equal chance to compete
- Highly visible and communicated clearly and effectively to the aviation community and the general public.
- Conforming to international standards and recommendations applicable to aviation and public safety.
Mitigation measures can be based on risk-based steps.
The ability to resume higher passenger air travel volumes will depend on many factors, including the foremost public health agency guidelines (driven primarily by travel risk levels), government travel restrictions and requirements, and passenger confidence, as well as an air carrier and airport operational capacities.
The risk-based approach allows for a smooth transition between restarting operations stages and the adjustment of mitigation actions based on risk. However, it is possible to return to earlier stages if necessary. It is important to maintain consistency, develop data reporting criteria, and monitor the progress of the evaluation and the next stages. It is not possible to give any precise timing between these stages at the moment. The majority of commercial passenger air travel was either in Stage 0 (or 1) at the time of this document’s publication.
The situation in which there are travel restrictions and very limited movement between major international and domestic airports.
The initial increase in passenger travel. This initial stage will be accompanied by relatively low passenger volumes. It allows airlines and airports the opportunity to implement aviation public health practices that are appropriate for this volume. As each stakeholder group adapts to increased demand as well as the new operational risks associated with risk mitigation, there will be significant challenges. Airports must have health measures that are comparable to those in other modes of transport or infrastructure.
Passenger volumes will increase as health officials review the validity of measures that are based on medical criteria. Many of the Stage 0 and 1 requirements may not be necessary anymore. Airports must have the same health measures that are required for airport travel as other modes of transport and infrastructure.
This stage could occur when the virus has been contained to a critical mass in major destinations around the world as determined by health authorities. Key triggers include the reduction of national alert levels and the associated loosening of travel restrictions. This stage will see risk mitigation measures continue to be reduced, modified, or stopped. Effective pharmaceutical interventions may not be available (e.g., There may not be effective pharmaceutical interventions (e.g., vaccines or therapies) available in Stage 3. However, contact tracing should be possible and testing should also be available. States will need to maintain or restore public health and social safety measures throughout the pandemic until effective and specific pharmaceutical interventions become available.
This stage starts when effective and specific pharmaceutical interventions are easily available in most countries. It is possible that some residual measures/mitigations may still be available, but these should be reviewed periodically.