Trade reps continue calls for testing, not quarantines as COVID-19 hammers aviation

IATA, AAPA, ACI Asia-Pacific want restrictions harmonised and coordinated among countries to get travel restarted

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An empty departure hall of Suvarnabhumi Airport in Thailand due to COVID-19. (PHOTO: Shutterstock)

Use thisThe Assembly of Presidents of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) together with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Airports Council International (ACI) Asia-Pacific, issued a joint declaration Monday (16 November) reiterating their calls for governments around the world to put in place coordinated COVID-19 testing rules to reopen aviation.

In January and February, Changi Airport in Singapore was full of passengers. Now a lone student waits to say goodbye to a friend in a nearly deserted departure hall. (PHOTO: Matt Driskill)

The group said they firmly supported the Council Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) guidance that is the basis of the aviation industry’s risk mitigation measures aimed at safeguarding the safety and well-being of air travellers. The task force is part of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). “As a critical risk mitigation measure, the industry supports the establishment of globally accepted and mutually recognised COVID-19 testing protocols,” the group of trade associations said in a statement. “Conscious that emergency measures are required to contain the pandemic, the industry requests that travel restrictions are harmonised and coordinated among countries so that they are targeted, balanced, transparent and flexible in duration.”

Airlines around the world have had to ground thousands of planes as the COVID-19 pandemic has virtually shut down international aviation. (PHOTO: Shutterstock)

In addition to the joint declaration, the AAPA Assembly of Presidents, which met virtually this past week because of travel restrictions, issued a number of resolutions addressing various industry priorities. The assembly views the setting up of a robust international testing framework, based on mutually-recognised accredited facilities delivering rapid, accurate, affordable and scalable testing prior to departure, coupled with other risk mitigation measures recommended by ICAO, as an effective approach to safely restart international air travel.

The AAPA also said “blanket quarantine measures are a significant deterrent to air travel and should be reviewed in the context of these and other risk mitigation measures. Reaffirming the industry’s commitment to environmental sustainability, the Assembly of Presidents also renewed their call on governments to respect the integrity of ICAO CORSIA and refrain from applying duplicative requirements on international aviation CO2 emissions, as well as to support the use of sustainable aviation fuel, so that the industry can reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.”

Subhas Menon, director general of AAPA said “the ICAO CART guidelines established earlier this year provide practical guidance to governments and industry to restart aviation and recover from COVID-19 in a coordinated manner, while keeping the safety, health and wellbeing of the travelling public as a top priority. Inconsistent and patchy measures create unpredictability and confusion for both travellers and airlines, while hampering the meaningful restart of cross border air transport. The prolonged closure of borders has had deep and lasting effects on the public and the wider economy. It has now become critical to improve collaboration and cooperation across borders so as to mitigate further damage and jump start recovery efforts. Asia-Pacific airlines are firmly committed to working with governments and other stakeholders to rebuild passenger confidence and pave the way for the meaningful recovery of travel and tourism as essential services supporting commerce and livelihoods within the region and across the world.”

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