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UN agency sets out guidelines for airlines

Kenya Airways
Kenya Airways planes at the JKIA in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

UN agency, the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) has released guidelines for flight operations as it seeks to jump-start the sector ravaged by coronavirus pandemic.

ICAO said airlines must ensure social distance of at least one metre between passengers, besides mandatory wearing of face masks by passengers and airline crew in line with directives by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The agency in the report dubbed ‘Take-off: Guidance for Air Travel through the Covid-19 Public Health Crisis’ adds that all passengers must be tested before and after every flight , in addition to isolation for any passenger showing Covid-19 symptoms or indicating exposure to the virus.

ICAO says health declaration forms for Covid-19 should be used for all passengers, in line with the recommendations of relevant health authorities. This is besides use of internet-based platforms for contact tracing.

The United Nations (UN) agency, in-charge of planning and development of international air transport, adds that airlines should ensure passengers do not board or alight in close proximity and that all areas within the airlines and airports must be cleaned and disinfected based on operational risk assessments.

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The global aviation industry shut down in March to curb spread of Covid-19 and now most of the airlines including Kenya Airways have turned to the state for emergency funding.

“ICAO recommends a phased approach to enable the safe return to high-volume domestic and international air travel for passengers and cargo… The approach introduces a core set of measures to form a baseline aviation health safety protocol to protect air passengers and aviation workers from Covid-19. These measures will enable the growth of global aviation as it recovers from the current pandemic,” ICAO said in the report released on Monday.

ICAO projects that by the end of 2020, airlines will lose up to Sh33.284 trillion ($314 billion) while airports will lose Sh10.6 trillion ($100 billion) underlining the adverse effects of the restrictions imposed to curb spread of coronavirus

The collapse of British carrier Flybe has underlined the gravity of the pandemic on airlines. Experts have already warned that other airlines may collapse by the end of the year unless the sector picks up soon. The agency has also warned that international traffic will fall by as high as 1.5 billion passengers by December as airlines struggle to pick-up in the post-Covid-19 period.

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