Our industry needs passengers to feel that it is safe to travel - to achieve this we all need to work together to create a positive atmosphere and environment. The foundation of our efforts across Europe is the Aviation Health Safety Protocol (AHSP) that has been updated on 11 May 2022 to take the first steps to relaxing the COVID-19 measures for air travel.
Dropping of the mask requirement for passengers
The protocol was originally developed in May 2020 as a joint effort between the aviation and health communities to create an effective framework that enables passengers to travel safely in the COVID-19 world.
The big headline from the latest May 2022 update of the AHSP is the dropping the recommendation for mandatory wearing of medical masks in airports and on board a flight. This brings the mask requirement in line with the situation as its evolved in normal daily life. The Health Protocol still notes that a face mask remains one of the best protections against the transmission of COVID-19.
What has been removed from the latest update of the AHSP
The latest version of the AHSP removes a number of the measures from the protocol. Again this bring things in aviation into line with the COVID measures in other aspects of our lives as countries open up more.
- Limitation of access to the terminal.
- Limitation for the onboard service.
- The need for additional busses for boarding and disembarkation.
- The need for a designated lavatory for the crew.
- The change of uniforms for staff and crew members.
- Thermal screening.
What are the other major changes
There are other measures that have been changed and updated, these are:
Face masks: Operators are no longer recommended to impose masks during flight, however due to the major benefits of masks in preventing transmission of all variants, operators should encourage their use during their prefight and inflight communications. Crew and passengers, especially those in the higher risk categories should be encouraged to wear a face mask.
Cleaning and disinfection: The cleaning of airports and aircraft should follow a risk based approach depending on the local COVID-19 situation (Page 12 of the AHSP).
Personal hygiene: Recommendations for personal hygiene (including respiratory etiquette)
Symptomatic passengers: Where a passenger is identified as having symptoms of COVID-19 (coughing or sneezing severely, having fever, difficulties breathing, etc) they no longer need to be isolated, but should be requested by the crew members to wear a face mask.
Vaccinations: Stronger recommendation for vaccination of passengers and the recognition of WHO approved vaccines from third countries.