EASA’s Covid Charter Draws First Signatories

 - June 4, 2020, 9:34 AM

This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.

EasyJet, Wizz Air, Aegean Airlines, and seven airports have signed the European Union Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) charter for the return to normal operations under Covid-19, the agency said Thursday. The companies have promised to work with their national authorities to establish measures to support health safety and report back on their experiences to help other organizations implement those measures. All have agreed to abide by the guidelines developed by EASA and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) known as the Covid-19 Aviation Health Safety Protocol.

“I am delighted to welcome these first implementers of our guidelines and charter,” said EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky. “These airlines and airports will lead the way in applying the recommended measures and will share their experiences with us. This will help us to reach the ultimate goal of harmonized, health-safe travel across Europe and to destinations beyond.”   

The signatories must now determine how to implement the guidelines in their facilities and services to achieve the best possible compliance despite operational constraints. Primary recommendations of the guidelines include observing physical distancing wherever possible, wearing a medical face mask throughout the journey, and practicing “scrupulous and frequent” hand hygiene. 

While separate from the set of guidelines recently published by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the EASA protocol represents one of the first set of guidelines established by regional authorities at the urging of ICAO and the International Air Transport Association. ICAO’s Council Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART), which issued its guidelines on Monday, called on member states to implement a coordinated plan for reopening the world’s air transport system following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Although conceding the guidelines are not mandatory, ICAO president Salvatore Sciacchitano expressed confidence in the cooperation of the world’s governments. “Let’s remind [people] that ICAO is composed [of] member states,” he noted. “The council that adopted the report is composed [of] 36 representatives of member states. So, in this sense, I am very much confident that the guidelines will be implemented.”