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ERA’s views given at webinar

On 13 May, ERA participated in a webinar hosted by the Global Humanitarian Aviation Organisation on the topic of the effectiveness of published aviation guidelines to avoid the spread of COVID-19. ERA President Andrew Kelly presented ERA’s views as part of the panel.

The webinar was hosted by Razvan Prunean, Representative, European Affairs at the Global Humanitarian Aviation Organisation (GHAO), who began by introducing GHAO and its work, and then introduced the panellists: Andrew Price – IATA Head of Global Baggage Operations; Andrew Kelly – President, ERA; Bernard Fragner – CEO, Globeair Austria.

Each speaker outlined their current challenges and then addressed the proposed roadmap to restarting aviation.

Andrew Price, IATA

Price focussed on baggage operations, with the importance of everyone working together and a need for consistent measures.

Aviation is a key driver of the global economy, yet is one of the industries worst hit. Air cargo has played a huge role in combatting the crisis, especially with its efforts in transport of medical equipment. There have been times when humanitarian efforts have been hindered.

IATA is recommending a risk-based, layered approach to the restart with measures based on scientific evidence and is not supporting blocking out middle seat.

Measures should be introduced upstream in the travel process, that is, anything that can be done at home.

Collaboration between industry and governments essential for a consistent approach.

Temporary measures can be introduced throughout the journey – starting from at home: health declarations, boarding passes, home printed bag tags, reducing number of touch points within airports – move things on to passengers own devices, queuing.

For the restart, we need to be clear what the rules are, allow time for people to prepare and process and be consistent. This what not always seen at shutdown stage and IATA would like to see improved for the restart.

No single measure will mitigate all risks but a range of measures will provide a layered solution in the immediate term.

Andrew Kelly, ERA

Kelly stated that it was time for action from the EC. He spoke about latest developments on the refund voucher system – moves by EC could put airlines out of business. The stressed that the industry has been devasted and this is still ongoing. Airlines will be vital to recovery. There is a need for joined-up thinking with sensible and realistic rules, and for more than just guidelines. The clearest ideas on operations have come from airlines and associations: for example disinfection, face masks, reducing in-flight service and temperature checking – practical mitigations.

There is a need for one voice on the return to normal. Kelly implored that the Commission listen to all stakeholders, and soon. Airlines want passengers back.

On cargo – Kelly pointed out that normal services are being pushed out by the transport of essential medical supplies, and that more capacity is needed. However, it is very hard to adapt to cargo operations – that’s why passenger conversions are happening. But cargo airlines can only do so much, and they are definitely not immune from the impacts of COVID-19.

Entire industry (including cargo) needs support to survive. Kelly outlined the impact of the crisis on the ASL Group. They had had several issues with quarantine/immigration measures – thanks to ERA lots of issues have been rectified.

Bernard Fragner, Globeair

Fragner gave a perspective from business aviation. His organisation, and others, have been involved with repatriation flights and have found that many restrictions have been imposed. Media reporting has sometimes been inaccurate which is not helpful. Business aviation has faced barriers in ground handling, from airport authorities, passenger perceptions and attitudes, crew training and education, supply chain, regulations – both aviation and health rules – it is not always easy to see what applies, and psychological barriers.

Fragner echoed the other panellists on the need for common rules and training guidelines, a feasible supply chain, tracing apps and use of green and red zones. He stressed the importance of industry communication about common measures.

Fragner said he was convinced this situation will last for at least a year, or until vaccination was available.

Again, he agreed that aviation was key to economic recovery.

 

Finally, the panellists took questions – including questions on industry collaboration, environmental concerns and caveats on the recovery and baggage.