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The International Air Transport Association again has come out against the use of quarantine measures for international travelers, saying the aviation industry will need to adopt a "layering of temporary biosecurity measures" to provide consumer confidence as travel restarts.
The industry body has published its proposed roadmap for restarting aviation services in the safest way possible, which includes a number of measures it believes should be taken before, during and after flights, both at the airport and on board aircraft.
IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said: "There is no single measure that will reduce risk and enable a safe restart of flying. But a layering of measures that are globally implemented and mutually recognized by governments can achieve the needed outcome. This is the greatest crisis that aviation has ever faced. A layered approach has worked with safety and with security. It's the way forward for biosecurity as well."
The proposal suggests passenger data, including health information, should be collected by governments before a flight in the same way they gather details for e-visa or electronic travel authorization programs.
On arrival at the airport, IATA said terminal access should be restricted to airport and airline workers as well as passengers, with exemptions made only for those accompanying travelers with disabilities. It also recommends temperature screening by trained government staff at entry points, physical distancing throughout the entire airport journey including queue management, the use of face coverings for passengers and masks for staff, self-service options for check-in and bag-drop to limit person-to-person contact, congestion-reducing boarding priorities and hand luggage limitations, and cleaning and sanitization of high-touch areas.
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In-flight measures should include face coverings for passengers and masks for crew for the duration of the flight, simplified cabin service and the use of pre-packaged catering to reduce contact between crew and passengers, limiting passengers' movements throughout the cabin by prohibiting queues for toilets, and more frequent deep cleaning of the cabin.
At the arrival airport, IATA suggested temperature screenings take place again, with health declarations and robust contact tracing facilitated by governments. Furthermore, it said airports should increase the use of automated procedures for customs and border control, such as mobile applications and biometric technology, as well as accelerated processing and baggage reclaim to reduce congestion and queuing.
IATA reiterated its opposition to quarantine measures, saying the measure would be "obviated" by the layering of steps it is proposing. It also dismissed the idea of social distancing on board aircraft again, repeating evidence that the risk of transmission is low due to seating lay-outs and the use of hospital-grade HEPA filters.
The roadmap was put forward in support of the Covid-19 Aviation Recovery Task Force of the International Civil Aviation Organization, which has been tasked with developing global standards for safe flying.
De Juniac commented: "The roadmap is the industry's high-level thinking on safely restarting aviation. Timing is crucial. Governments understand the importance of aviation to the social and economic recovery of their countries, and many are planning a phased reopening of borders in the coming months. We have a short time to reach agreement on the initial standards to support safely reconnecting the world and to firmly establish that global standards are essential to success. This will change as technology and medical science advances. The vital element is coordination. If we don't take these first steps in a harmonized way, we will spend many painful years recovering ground that should not have been lost."
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