European agencies issue guidelines for safe air travel

Airbus A350-1000

Guidelines for keeping passengers and air crew safe from Coronavirus once airlines resume flights have been issued by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

The guidelines place paramount importance on health safety at every stage of the end-to-end passenger journey, while recognising that airports, airlines and aircraft are different.

Some overarching principles apply throughout:

  • Observe physical distancing wherever possible
  • Wear a medical face mask to protect other passengers
  • Practice scrupulous and frequent hand hygiene.
  • Air passengers and general population have to be assured that filtered air on aeroplanes is safer and cleaner than many of us breathe on the ground.

The guidance examines each phase of the passenger journey, and specifies the actions that need to be taken or measures put in place in six travel segments:

  1. Before arrival at the airport
  2. In the departure terminal
  3. When boarding, in flight
  4. In transit
  5. On arrival at the final destination.
  6. A separate section focusses on the safety of flight crew members.
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Passengers will also have to act responsibly

EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky, said, “This protocol is the blueprint for safe air travel, from the moment of arrival at the departure airport right through to leaving the airport at the destination.

“This is the start, rather than the end, of a process to make air travel as safe as possible from the health perspective, in addition to the technical safety which has until now been the main focus of EASA.

“The next task is for airlines and airport operators to adapt the guidelines to their individual facilities and operations.”

Passengers are also expected to take personal responsibility. For example, passengers who have Covid-19 symptoms (fever, cough, sudden loss of smell, shortness of breath) or who are aware that they have come in contact with a Covid-19 case should not arrive at the airport or should postpone their travel to protect their fellow passengers.

Passengers are recommended to practice distancing, hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and use medical face masks, and to declare their Covid-19 status before receiving their boarding pass. Passengers will also be asked to provide contact information to allow for ‘track and trace’ if someone on a particular flight later tests positive for Covid-19.

Those not travelling will need to say goodbye to the passenger before they enter the terminal building, except in defined special cases.

The full guidelines are here.