EASA releases Covid-19 guide for airports, airlines

The EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has confirmed guidance on Covid-19 safety protocols for airlines and airports.

EASA and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have issued a joint document on health and safety for air passengers, airport and airline staff once flights resume at scale.

The agency issued draft guidance last week. It recommends airport access be restricted to passengers, crew and staff except for those providing assistance, airports and airlines “avoid queueing as much as practicable” and passengers be advised “to minimise use of airport facilities”.

The EASA guidance rules out so-called “immunity passports” for passengers tested for Covid-19 for the time being as “not supported by existing scientific knowledge”.

It requires that airlines add “a health-monitoring questionnaire to online check-in” and modify hand luggage, seat allocation and boarding practices.

Passengers should “minimise” their hand luggage, with no more than one cabin bag allowed.

Airlines and airport operators should “ensure physical distancing at all times, especially during check-in, security check, pre-boarding and boarding”.

On board aircraft, airlines should “avoid passengers queueing”, “reduce service to the minimum” and require passengers “remain seated”.

Airlines should also “ensure physical distancing, to the extent possible”, other than for families and members of the same household travelling together, and modify seat allocation “accordingly”.

EASA and the ECDC describe the approach to new health safety standards in aviation as “pragmatic”.

They argue: “Air passengers and the general population have to be assured that filtered air on airplanes is safer and cleaner than many of us breathe on the ground.”

The agencies recommend passengers “observe physical distancing wherever possible, wear a medical face mask to protect other passengers, and practice scrupulous and frequent hand hygiene”.

Welcoming the guidance, European Commissioner for Transport Adina Valean said: “Passengers have to have confidence that taking to the skies again in a confined space with other people poses the minimum possible risk to their health.

“We relied on our specialists from EASA and ECDC to define a set of concrete measures for the safe resumption of air travel within the EU.

“The protocol released today will reassure passengers that it is safe for them to fly and so help the industry recover from the effects of this pandemic.”

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