Geneva – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is urging Africa’s health and transport authorities to accelerate and expand the harmonized implementation of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Council Aviation Recovery Task Force’s (CART) guidance for the safe resumption of air travel and tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID-19 has devastated African economies and brought air connectivity across the continent to a virtual standstill. The recovery time has lengthened with 2019 traffic levels only likely to return until late 2023. The economic consequences are severe. Africa’s airlines will lose $6 billion in passenger revenues this year. Millions of jobs and livelihoods are at risk, not just in travel and tourism, but across the entire economic value chain and aviation’s contribution to Africa’s GDP will fall by $37 billion. For Africa’s economic revival, it is essential to re-open markets using a single, common set of guidelines, processes and criteria,” said Muhammad Albakri, IATA’s Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East speaking at the 2020 African Aviation Industry Group (AAIG) Aeropolitical Forum.
According to ICAO’s latest assessment, 19 African nations have so far fully implemented the CART’s initial “Take-Off” guidelines, while another 7 have implemented more than half of them.
Yesterday CART added three recommendations to the Take-off guidance with the full support of IATA;
- COVID-19 Testing:
With some States considering the use of testing and with the availability of improved COVID-19 testing technology, there is a need for guidance material to facilitate harmonization. This is being developed in a Manual on Testing and Cross Border Risk Management Measures and will be a key enabler of IATA’s call for systematic testing before departure for international travelers.
- Public Health Corridors or Travel Bubbles:
ICAO is asking States which are considering the formation of a Public Health Corridor (PHC, more commonly known as travel bubbles) to actively share information with each other to implement these in a harmonized manner. To facilitate implementation of PHCs, the ICAO Implementation Package (iPack) on establishing a PHC is available to States.
- Extending regulatory alleviations till 31 March 2021:
While maintaining the highest standards for safety, COVID-19 has forced the industry to temporarily adapt certain regulatory processes, especially those related to staff qualification and training. Unless circumstances dictate otherwise, the Take-off guidance recommends that such alleviations should not be extended beyond 31 March 2021.
“While more than half of the continent’s nations have made encouraging progress, for this to make any meaningful impact, all African governments must pick up the pace. At the same time, IATA once again calls on the continent’s governments to provide and facilitate the flows of short-term emergency financial relief to the entire air transport industry. Without a stable and robust air transport system it will be impossible for countries to rebuild their economies post COVID-19,” added Mr Albakri.