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Sat, 13 March 2021

ICAO Updates Recommendations for Recovery of International Air Travel

IATA has welcomed the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Councils approval of the latest recommendations from its Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART).

CART was established in the early days of the pandemic, and the Council of ICAO adopted the task forces first set of COVID19 response and recovery guidelines for international air transport in June 2020. As the pandemic is constantly evolving, so too are the guidelines, with Phase II recommendations being issued last November and Phase III being formalized on Friday, 12 March 2021.

Aircraft flying overhead. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com. Click to enlarge.

Key outputs of Phase III include recommendations for:

- Temporary liberalization of cargo flights;

- Considering priority vaccination of air crew; and

- Increased cooperation among governments to implement CART recommendations and guidance.

Phase III also includes updated or new guidance for:

- Testing certificates;

- COVID19 risk management including vaccination and its interdependencies;

Dangerous goods guidelines for the carriage of cargo on passenger aircraft used in freighter operations; and

A new mechanism for reporting extended regulatory alleviations.

This is a major piece of work by states and aviation stakeholders under the leadership of ICAO and with the full support of the industry, said Alexandre de Juniac, IATAs Director General and CEO. Of course, these recommendations, guidelines and tools are only meaningful if they are adopted universally. It is crucial that states implement this guidance, particularly as they plan for the restart of international aviation when borders are able to open. As we have said many times, it was easy to shut down aviation with individual decisions. Restarting and maintaining operations to deliver economically and socially vital connectivity can only happen if all parties work together. The CART recommendations are the building blocks for that cooperation

One of the most important recommendations from this work is the call for national authorities to ensure that CART delivers results in national decision-making. We all know how important aviation is to the economy. And the harmonized implementation of these guidelines is what will put people back in jobs by getting the industry moving again. As ICAO tracks implementation, it is also critical to track the impact of latest developments in COVID19 on risk management frameworks, especially as we learn more about the effectiveness of vaccines against transmission.

 Harmonizing Testing Certificates

The requirements for globally accepted COVID19 test certificates including the technology framework for securely creating digital versions and the future incorporation of vaccination certificates were agreed. These recommendations are now included in the ICAO Manual on Testing and Cross-Border Risk Management Measures.

From the perspective of preparing for an industry restart, this is one of the most significant outputs of CART. Public opinion also reflects this with a recent IATA poll reporting that 89% of respondents believe that governments must standardize vaccination and testing certificates. It will be a critical element for maximizing the benefit of the IATA Travel Pass and other technologies being developed to manage digital travel credentials.

Vaccination and Travel

CART supported two major policy recommendations related to vaccinations that will be critical to an efficient restart of international flying:

- Prioritizing Aircrew Vaccinations: The CART recommendation follows the guidance provided by the World Health Organization with a framework on what states should take into consideration when deciding vaccination priority groups. Crew vaccination will help enable sufficient ready-to-fly aircrew to maintain critical supply chains, especially related to the transportation of vaccines and other medical supplies.

 - Traveler Vaccinations: CART has recommended that travelers should not need be vaccinated for international travel.

Regulators have had the challenge of maintaining high safety levels with sufficient regulatory alleviations to adjust for the extraordinary situation of an industry that has been largely grounded for a year now. With the support of the industry, ICAO has taken the position to replace existing alleviations with specific actions. It is supporting this with a Targeted Exemptions (TE) system enabling states to post and access a registry of actions taken to maintain the validity of their certificates, licenses, and other approvals during the COVID19 pandemic.

See also: IATA Travel Pass - Exclusive Video Interview with Vinoop Goel

PODCAST

Editor's note: As the above video interview was conducted over the internet, I would like to apologise that the audio and visual quality are not up to the same HD/UHD quality that it normally would be. Hopefully it won't be too long until we are once again conducting exclusive video interviews in person, but for now we have to make do with what we have. Thank you.

See also: Future of Airline Distribution and NDC - Interview with Yanik Hoyles, IATA (November 2019).

See latest Travel Industry News, Video Interviews, Podcasts and other news regarding: COVID19, ICAO, IATA, IATA Travel Pass.

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