ICAO lists recommendations for post-corona aviation
The UN agency International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) proposes a series of recommendations for the post-corona recovery of the sector. The most important are: wearing a mask, temperature controls, and aircraft disinfection. Everything to avoid the obligation of quarantine and social distancing by leaving every second seat in aircraft empty.
This health protocol is the result of the work of a task force bringing together all the important parties in the sector. Philippe Bertoux, the task force’s chairman, says that the guidelines are “intended to inform, align, and progress the national, regional, and industry-specific Covid-19 recovery roadmaps now being implemented, but not to replace them.”
The recommended changes are the most significant since the security measures following the September 11 attacks in the United States. Passenger air transport has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. IATA, the trade association of the world’s airlines (293), has calculated a minimum of $312 billion in lost revenue.
The recommendations are a framework for passenger and staff safety. The ICAO does not recommend that every second seat be neutralized to ensure physical distancing. It does, however, call for passengers to be as far apart as possible, depending on the occupancy rate of the aircraft.
Upon arrival at the airport, the traveler should present a declaration of health, and undergo an initial temperature check. Online check-in before arriving at the airport should be preferred. In addition, passages through security checks should be redesigned to limit physical contact and queues.
Wearing a mask should be mandatory inside the terminal. A physical distance of at least one meter must be maintained. Once inside the aircraft, passengers must keep their masks on, and move around as little as possible during the flight. Food on board must be pre-packaged, and the aircraft must be disinfected regularly.
The resumption of short and medium-haul services will take place between now and the end of the third quarter of 2020. This is what IATA Director General, Alexandre de Juniac, says in the French newspaper ‘Le Monde’.
It will be the low-cost airlines that are ready to restart first, being well represented in these routes. The resumption of long-haul will come later. For IATA, traffic should reach 50 to 60% of its 2019 level by the end of 2020.
The IATA’s estimates place the return to normal at the end of 2022-early 2023. “Three weeks ago, European carriers were very pessimistic, but in the last week the horizon has become much clearer,” says de Juniac.
What makes estimates difficult is that the pandemic is compounded by a severe economic recession. Also, he points to a very cautious attitude of governments. Especially with regard to the reopening of borders and restrictions on international travel.
According to de Juniac, low-cost airlines will take market share from regular airlines. The latter will cut into their short and medium-haul networks, especially domestic flights. This is expected to benefit low-cost carriers.
It is too early to say what toll the crisis will take on airlines. For the time being, there are still many state initiatives to support the sector. This is the case in the United States and Europe. Air France-KLM and Lufthansa receive just under 20 billion euros in public aid. The Norwegian airline sector has been saved by the massive injection of public funds, and the same is true in Asia.
“But the airline sector is fragile. Everything will depend on the speed of recovery. That is to say, on the demand for air tickets, but above all on the lifting of border restrictions. Governments have a big responsibility,” concludes de Juniac.