Iata DG and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac

To provide the confidence governments need to enable the reopening of borders to passenger travel and to reassure passengers that it will be safe to travel by air, Iata has published a report, Biosecurity for Air Transport: A Roadmap for Restarting Aviation.

The report outlines proposals for a layering of temporary biosecurity measures. “There is no single measure that will reduce risk and enable a safe re-start of flying. But a layering of measures that are globally implemented and mutually recognised by governments can achieve the needed outcome,” said Iata DG and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac.

He said a layered approach had worked with safety and security, pointing out that it was the way forward for biosecurity as well.

Highlights of the roadmap include:

Pre-flight, Iata foresees the need for governments to collect passenger data in advance of travel, including health information, which should be accomplished using well-tested channels such as those used for eVisa or electronic travel authorisation programmes.
At the departure airport, the association highlights the need for several layers of protective measures, including:

  • Access to the terminal building should be restricted to airport/airline workers and travellers (with exceptions being made for those accompanying passengers with disabilities or unaccompanied minors);
  • Temperature screening by trained government staff at entry points to the terminal building;
  • Physical distancing through all passenger processes, including queue management;
  • Use of face coverings for passengers and masks for staff in line with local regulations;
  • Self-service options for check-in to be used by passengers as much as possible to reduce contact points and queues. This includes remote check-in (electronic/home-printed boarding passes), automated bag drops (with home-printed bag tags) and self-boarding;
  • Boarding should be made as efficient as possible with re-designed gate areas, congestion-reducing boarding priorities, and hand luggage limitations;
  • Cleaning and sanitisation of high-touch areas in line with local regulations. This includes wide availability of hand sanitisers.

In-flight, Iata foresees the following:

  • Face coverings required for all passengers and non-surgical masks for crew;
  • Simplified cabin service and pre-packaged catering to reduce interaction between passengers and crew;
  • Reduced congregation of passengers in the cabin, for example by prohibiting queues for washrooms;
  • Enhanced and more frequent deep cleaning of the cabin.

At the arrival airport, some of the protective measures will include:

  • Temperature screening by trained government staff if required by authorities;
  • Automated procedures for customs and border control, including use of mobile applications and biometric technologies (which have already a proven track record by some governments);
  • Accelerated processing and baggage reclaim to enable social distancing by reducing congestion and queuing;
  • Health declarations and robust contact tracing are expected to be undertaken by governments to reduce the risk of imported chains of transmission.

Iata has stressed that these measures should be temporary and subject to regular reviews. They should also be replaced when more efficient options are identified, or removed should they become unnecessary.

De Juniac said Iata was contacting governments with the Roadmap to obtain buy-in. “The Roadmap is the industry’s high-level thinking on safely re-starting aviation. Governments understand the importance of aviation to the social and economic recovery of their countries.”