Airline Implementation

7 July 2020

This page provides airlines with the key points from the EASA/ ECDC Passenger Health Protocol to assist with your practical implementation of these guidelines. This is very much a team effort to help the survival of our industry so work together with us to create an atmosphere that inspires confidence in passengers and staff.    

  • Read this page to help understand the things airlines can do to implement the protocol.
  • Download the Excel file at the bottom of the page to get the implementation checklist that will help you work through the main tasks and activities.  We will update this checklist with more information as the situation develops.  
  • Visit the page on the Passenger Journey to learn more about the different health risks and innovative mitigations that different airports and airlines are already putting in place.
  • If you are implementing something you think others should know about then email us at safetypromotion@easa.europa.eu so we can add it to the page.  

Main messages for the Passenger Health Protocol

The main goal of the Passenger Health Protocol is to create a positive atmosphere that makes passengers and staff feel safe.  Help people fly with confidence by focusing on these key points:

  • Limit access to airports only to essential people.
  • Discourage symptomatic people from coming to the airport.
  • Minimise contact between individuals and Ensure physical distancing (at least 1.5m).
  • Wear masks and make use of physical barriers.
  • Provide protective equipment for staff and crew.
  • Maintain good cleanliness and hand hygiene.
  • Plan and coordinate all our activities.
  • Take a flexible, risk management approach.

Key objectives

From the guidelines, the key objectives for airlines are:  

  • To ensure passengers arriving at the airport are aware of, and adhere to, the preventive measures in place so that there is a safe and healthy environment for travellers, crew members and staff.
  • To reduce the chances that a passenger with COVID-19 compatible symptoms arrives at the airport or boards an aircraft.
  • To reduce the residual risk of transmission of the virus from potentially asymptomatic contagious passengers.
  • To reduce risk of transmission of COVID-19 within an aircraft if there an asymptomatic passenger on board.
  • To reduce the risk of transmission from a symptomatic passenger inflight.
  • To reduce the risk that, should an infected person have been on a flight or at the airport, they would infect other passengers at the arrival airport.
  • To reduce the risk of staff being infected.
  • To avoid duplication of procedures.

Put in place the following "At All Times"

  • Health Promotion Material:  Make health promotion materials widely available before the flight, at the airport and onboard the aircraft that explain the requirements for personal protective equipment, hygiene measures, physical distancing (at least 1.5 m) and minimizing contact (Websites, posters, signs, announcements etc). You can find the main passenger health messages on the passenger health page. 
  • Risk-Based Approach:  Preventive measures should be implemented in a way that considers both the actual risk factors and the practical need for mitigation measures in different circumstances, such as, for example, between groups of passengers travelling together and not requiring physical distancing in between themselves.
  • Symptomatic Passengers Denied Boarding:  Inform passengers that people with identified with symptoms at the airport may be denied boarding and that they should have adequate insurance in place to cover this eventuality.
  • Passengers Who Refuse to Comply:  Passengers that do not comply with the preventative measures should be refused access to the airport, the aircraft cabin, or disembarked if before takeoff.  If in flight they should be treated as an Unruly Passengers.
  • Mask and Waste Disposal:  Ensure the safe and hygenic disposal of face masks and other waste.  

Reduce the risk of a person with COVID-19 coming to the airport

  • Travel Restrictions:  Use promotional material to inform passengers of the travel restrictions for any  passenger that may have COVID-19 symptoms before arriving at the departure airport. Such passengers should be encouraged not to come to the airport.
  • Airport Access for Passengers Only:  Inform passengers that access to airport premises should be limited to passengers only. Accompanying persons should only access the airport in special circumstances such as accompanying or picking up a passenger requiring assistance – Persons with Reduced Mobility or unaccompanied minors.

Reduce the risk of a person with COVID-19 boarding an aircraft

  • Information to Passengers on COVID-19 Symptoms:  Passengers should receive information about COVID-19 symptoms and the risk of possible contact with COVID-19 cases and be requested to acknowledge reading this information and sign or electronically authenticate an acknowledgement. This should be done in advance of the flight, preferably prior to the arrival at the airport, during the online check-in process or via a text message (SMS) link, or other means acceptable to the national authorities.  
  • Information to Passenger about the Airline's COVID-19 Policy:  Passengers should read and understand the aircraft operator’s COVID-19 policy preferably before the arrival at the airport during the online check-in process or via an a text message (SMS) link, or other means acceptable to the national authorities. An example of such statement can be found in Annex 2 ‘Acknowledgment of COVID-19 policy’ in the Guidelines.

  • Thermal Screening:  Inform passengers aware that, depending on national requirements, they may be subject to thermal screening at the airport temperature control before departure.

The boarding process

  • Masks Before Boarding:  Before boarding, passengers should be reminded that they should ensure they have a sufficient supply of masks for the entire duration of their journey.
  • Boarding and Physical Distancing:  Boarding should be carried out by in way that achieves as much physical distancing as possible.
  • Buses:  Where buses are used in the boarding process, an increased quantity should be provided in order to accommodate for physical distancing inside them.
  • Boarding by Rows:  Where boarding is performed using a boarding bridge, boarding by rows, starting with the furthest row from the entrance, should be considered.

Reduce the risk of transmission on board the aircraft

  • Passenger Awareness of Onboard Measures:  Ensure passengers are aware of, and comply with the preventive measures on board the aircraft including use of masks, hand hygiene, respiratory ettiquette, minimizing contact and reduced use of individual air supply nozzles.
  • Onboard Services:  Minimise contact by reducing on-board services to a minimum.
  • Alcohol:  Alcoholic drinks should be avoided.
  • Safety Demonstrations:  In safety demonstrations, remind passengers to remove their face masks before using the aircraft oxygen masks.
  • Queuing in the Aisles:  Avoid passengers queuing in the aisle or the galleys to use the toilets.
  • HEPA Filters:  Install and use HEPA filters (as in manufacturer’s specifications), or avoid the use of cabin air recirculation provided it will not compromise safety critical functions.
  • Recirculation Fans:  Review procedures for the use of recirculation fans in air conditioning systems based on information provided by the aircraft manufacturer.
  • Passengers Onboard Without Ventilation:  Ensure passengers are not kept on board without proper ventilation for more that 30 minutes.
  • Physical Distancing Onboard:  Where allowed by the passenger load, cabin configuration and mass and balance requirements, ensure physical distancing to the extent possible. Family members and individuals traveling together can be seated next to each other.
  • Carrying Additional Face Masks:  Carry a sufficient amount of face masks on board to provide to passengers, especially for long haul flights where the need to change masks may be advised by public health authorities. A safe mask disposal process should be put in place.
  • Onboard Hygiene:  Maintain good cleanliness and hygiene on board at all times.

Contact tracing and symptomatic passengers and crew

  • Contract Tracing Information:  Be able to provide, without undue delay and without prejudice to applicable data protection rules, the relevant data to public health authorities upon request for contact tracing purposes.
  • Passenger with Symptoms:  Should a passenger show symptoms compatible with COVID-19 such as fever,  persistent cough, difficulty breathing or other flu-like symptoms, airlines should follow the latest guidance available (additional guide is available).
  • Crew Members:  In coordination with the public health authorities, the respective crew members may be considered safe for the reminder of their duty period but no longer than 48 hours after the first contact with the symptomatic passenger and after thorough personal hygiene and change of uniform or of the single use protective suite, if such suite was used.
  • Waste Materials from People with Symptoms:  If a passenger or cabin crew member exhibit COVID-19-compatible symptoms, all waste materials including partially consumed meals, beverages and disposable items such as used paper towels, tissues and PPE produced while treating or supporting the symptomatic passenger or the cabin crew member(s) that has (have) been in close contact with them should be treated in accordance with the applicable international guidance or, where available, national guidance, as specified in Section 3.1.

Management of aviation personnel

  • Disinfection of Common Use Equipment:  New part added. Equipment of common use used by aviation personnel such as computers, tablets, radio stations, headsets, etc. should be disinfected before being used by another staff member.
  • Handovers for Shift Workers:  New recommendations for handovers. For staff working shifts, handovers should be conducted in a contact-free manner, i.e. via telephone, videoconference, electronic logs, or as a minimum through physical distancing.
  • Staff Training:  New recommendation that staff training should maximise the use of online training and virtual classrooms. 

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