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EASA programme to monitor COVID-19 operations gains traction, adding major airlines and Istanbul hub

COLOGNE, June 25, 2020 –  Istanbul Airport, Air France, Iberia, Scandinavian Airlines and Turkish Airlines are among the latest aviation companies to sign up and commit to implementing EASA/ECDC guidelines for safe travel in the light of COVID-19, joining a growing network of airport operators and airlines putting measures in place to offer harmonised safe travel across Europe and beyond.

In signing the European Union Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) Charter for the return to normal operations under COVID-19, airports and airlines pledge to work with their national authorities take the steps required to support health safety – and to report back on their experiences to help other organisations with their real-life implementations. 

These measures for aviation are outlined in guidelines developed by EASA and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on request of the European Commission. The COVID-19 Aviation Safety Protocol is based on current scientific information about the spread of COVID-19 and the expert opinion of the two Agencies.

“The aim of the guidelines and the charter is to establish a harmonised basis for healthy and safe travel. The growing number of airlines and airports signing up to the programme can enhance passengers’ confidence that this will be achieved,” said EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky.

“Major industry stakeholders connecting Europe and global communities and providing services to millions of passengers worldwide are now part of the programme and will be giving us feedback on their practical implementations, so the processes can be fine-tuned and further improved in coming months.”

Around 40 airport operators and airlines have already signed the charter. Their details can be found on the Charter page of the EASA website.

Primary recommendations of the guidelines are to observe physical distancing wherever possible, to wear a medical face mask throughout the journey and to practise scrupulous and frequent hand hygiene.

Passengers themselves are expected to take personal responsibility. For example, passengers who have COVID-19 compatible symptoms (fever, cough, sudden loss of smell, shortness of breath) or who are aware that they have come in contact with a COVID-19 case should not even travel to the airport.

Quotes from participating companies

Air France
Alain-Hervé Bernard, Chief Operating Officer – EVP operations and cargo - Air France:
"Air France strongly welcomes the EASA and ECDC initiative to provide a set of recommendations to be implemented in an harmonised way by airports and airlines, so as to provide the best level of health safety and contribute to increase trust in the whole travel experience. We believe that cooperation and experimentation are the best way to implement efficient and sustainable measures and Air France is willing to implement to the fullest extent possible EASA and ECDC guidelines and provide feedback."

Iberia
Luis Gallego, Iberia CEO:
“As an aviation industry we need to demonstrate to our customers that flying is safe so that their confidence in flying returns.   Having common guidelines, issued by institutions such as EASA and ECDC, that both airlines and airports follow, is the best way to show our valued customers that they can trust us. Safety and security are a key element of Iberia’s DNA, and by adhering to these guidelines we demonstrate, once again, that the safety of our customers and employees comes before anything else”.

Istanbul Airport
Chief Executive Officer and General Manager of iGA Airport Operation Inc., Kadri Samsunlu:
“Our primary objective subsequent to the outbreak of Covid-19 has been to provide a “safe travel at maximum hygiene conditions” at Istanbul Airport. We took all necessary measures at our airport at a maximum before we resumed flights. Yet it is fact that aviation industry can overcome the crisis caused by Covid-19 only if we all act in unison. Turkey is ready to do so.”

SAS - Scandinavian Airlines
Lena Rökaas, VP and Accountable Manager, SAS:
“Scandinavian Airlines(SAS) has a long history of implementing and following industry best practice regarding safety and security. The safety of our passengers and staff always being our first priority, SAS has since the beginning of the corona crisis during these challenging times, worked in close collaboration with national authorities in Scandinavia, and has been closely monitoring and implementing the international guidelines provided by EASA and ICAO. SAS is welcoming the EASA industry charter and will, in all applicable areas, implement and follow the principles and responsibilities.”