The aviation sector in Europe may be about to see a boost in demand, as the European Commission (EC) has created a comprehensive framework aimed at effectively coordinating the restoration of air transport services and allowing European citizens to plan summer holidays.
Clearly the aviation industry is keen to gain passenger traffic, but for both airlines and airports, the health and safety of passengers and staff is of the utmost importance when preparing for the restart of operations. Thus the Commission’s package of guidelines places emphasis on what it has identified as medically effective methods to protect health whilst enabling economic recovery, and demonstrating that industry and policy makers are working to fully aligned and shared goals.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and ACI Europe, representing the airline and airport sectors, have welcomed the EC’s issuance of guidelines. In a joint statement, they said, “IATA and ACI Europe fully support these EC guidelines, which provide EU States with comprehensive and articulated guidance for lifting current travel and border restrictions and for restoring air connectivity. Their timing is now crucial, as the epidemiological situation in Europe has started to improve, and tourism and local economies across Europe urgently need positive action to embark on the vitally important summer season.”
Following the EC’s guidelines, ACI Europe and IATA urge European States to:
- Effectively follow this guidance and actively cooperate with airlines, airports and other aviation stakeholders in its further development and implementation – in ways that reflect the specific circumstances of air transport. A co-operative and open approach to the new normal will result in the best outcomes for society and the economy alike.
- Support the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) by continuously reporting on their epidemiological situation at national, regional and local level, so travel restrictions can be lifted as soon as the health situation allows – thus reflecting the EC’s emphasis on timely reviews to ensure proportionate measures.
- Act in a coordinated and fully aligned way as regards the lifting of travel restrictions and border controls.
“Airlines and airports stand ready to play their part in supporting aviation and health authorities. Both hold safety and security at the heart of their operations and already apply stringent standards of hygiene, with public health at the fore. At the same time, the specific nature of our infrastructure and operations means that workable solutions must be found. We applaud the Commission’s recognition of this fact in the measures outlined, for example in the feasibility of physical distancing in the aviation environment,” added the joint statement.
IATA and ACI have closely cooperated on these issues over the past weeks, and have releasing joint industry guidance titled Safely Restarting Aviation: ACI and IATA Joint Approach. They are looking forward to EASA further developing more detailed aviation guidance as announced by the European Commission.