‘Air travel will not contribute to the spread of the virus’ claims European Aviation Safety Agency
The European Aviation Safety Agency is convinced that the resumption of air travel in the community space “will not contribute to the spread” of COVID-19, as long as health rules are followed to avoid “risky situations”. Many question this stance though.
“What we can guarantee is that air travel will not contribute to the spread of the virus,” said the executive director of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), Patrick Ky, in an interview with the Lusa news agency. “This means that if all the guidelines and protocols we are creating are effectively implemented [by the operators], we can guarantee that the risk of spreading the virus on an aircraft or in a related space is minimized,” added the official.
With Member States of the European Union (EU) beginning to reopen their internal and external borders and airlines resuming travel, after a suspension of almost three months due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the EASA reported, together with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, safety guidelines for passengers, airports and carriers to apply from arrival at the place of departure to departure at the destination terminal.
“I think that, with all the measures we are proposing, there will be a lot of confidence in the resumption of air travel,” said Patrick Ky, noting “having no doubt that the operators will apply the procedures”. This is because “it is in everyone’s interest that the rules are consistently followed,” he added.
These safety guidelines start by focusing on what “the passenger has to do before the flight […], in particular with the fact that they avoid traveling when they are sick or with symptoms related to COVID-19”, then “indicating the correct entry into the airport without accompanying people who are not going to travel”, as well as “wearing a mask at all times at the airport, such as in the ‘check-in’ and security zones, and resort whenever possible to social distance, ”said Ky.
Then they focus on the moment of boarding, on how passengers should be treated on board the aircraft and on how meals and drinks should be served. “They are, in fact, practical procedures to help manage passengers and to allow air travel to be safe,” he added.
Ky assured press that he had no “major concerns” in this resumption of air travel, but pointed out two “risk situations” related to “the behaviour of passengers”.
Created in 2002, the EASA is responsible for safety in the civil aviation sector in Europe, monitoring and promoting standards for the 27 Member States and other economic partners in the region. Headquartered in Cologne, Germany, and with an office in the Belgian capital, in Brussels, the agency brings together aeronautical sector authorities at European level, including the Portuguese National Civil Aviation Authority (ANAC).