Aviation industry groups look for alternatives to restrictive quarantines to control spread of COVID-19

Industry organization ACI is calling on governments to replace quarantine measures with robust testing programs to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus through air carriers.

Airports Council International (ACI) World is requesting a “robust and consistent protocol for testing,” which the group says should be implemented only when necessary and as an alternative to broad-brush requirements for quarantine.
The measures should only be applied to passengers between countries where there is significant risk, and only for as long as is necessary to ensure public health and passenger confidence, said ACI, in a statement issued on Aug. 14.

“Unilateral national measures, especially a quarantine requirement, is damaging to both the industry and passenger confidence,” ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira said. “Unnecessary quarantine measures are particularly harmful to passenger confidence as international air travelers have no assurance that, if they make flight arrangements, they will be able to return to their place of departure to continue their daily lives.

“Harmonized measures and a risk based approach that relies on scientific evidences will help to restore the traveler confidence and support the economy recovery of the aviation ecosystem.

To this end, ACI has requested the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to develop recommendations for States which should be risk based and informed by scientific and health experts.

“A risk-based approach would support the concept of travel bubbles, with low risk countries requiring no testing or quarantine for travel,” de Oliveira said.

“Medium risk locations might require testing only, with mutual acceptance of test results and arrivals from high risk locations might require a combination of testing and a short quarantine to enable the verification of results.”

Reportedly, as many as 30 countries are currently using airport-based testing, including Germany, France, Iceland and Austria, with London Heathrow about to start a program that would offer testing, but still require quarantining.


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In related news, ACI and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have published comprehensive guidance for airports to implement at security screening checkpoints as they prepare to restart operations.

The (IATA) released an airline self-assessment health checklist to support the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Take-off: Guidance for Air Travel through the COVID-19 Public Health Crisis. The Take-off guidance is the global standard framework of risk-based temporary measures for governments and the air transport value chain for safe operations during the COVID-19 crisis.
ACI’s Airport Health Accreditation program, launched last week and now endorsed by ICAO, assists airports in focusing on the health and welfare of travelers, staff, and the public. ACI has also published The Aviation Smart Security Playbook, developed in collaboration with Deloitte and designed to assist airports in providing a safe, secure, and hygienic experience for passengers, staff, and the public amid the COVID-19

pandemic. The guidance is aligned with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) recommendations.

IATA’s health checklist for airlines and ACI’s Airport Health Accreditation program will be of importance in terms of providing a platform and momentum for the implementation of the ICAO Council Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) recommendations, of which harmonization and resilience are the guiding principles, said ICAO’s Council President, Salvatore Sciacchitano.

ACI World announced last week that Istanbul Airport was the first airport in the world to be accredited through the program.