Authorities should ensure that cargo flights are able to continue despite restrictions placed on commercial aviation because of the worldwide coronavirus outbreak, the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) said today.
ERA, which represents airlines and air transport operations throughout Europe, called for clarification of existing rules and guidance for cargo flights, adding that cargo crews should be exempt from some restrictions imposed because of the outbreak.
“This is a public health crisis, and lives, health and safety must come first,” ERA President Andrew Kelly said. “Maintaining the cargo network will support the fight against COVID-19 [as this specific virus is known] and will significantly dilute the huge economic impact that we are all facing.”
ERA said that current rules in some countries say that after a cargo flight has returned from a flight, “following minimal ground time as part of the turnaround process in a high-risk area, even if the crew do not leave the aircraft … they will now be subject to 14 days of mandatory isolation. If this is to continue, airlines will quickly run out of flight crew to continue operations.”
Kelly added that the European Commission, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and national governments in Europe must act to exempt cargo flights from that restriction.
ERA’s statement followed by several days EASA’s issuance of a safety directive calling for thorough disinfecting and cleaning of aircraft after flights from high-risk destinations.
“We need to reassure the passengers, the airline crews and the airport staff that their health and safety is our top priority,” Adina Valean, European commissioner for transport, said.
EASA also recommended that airlines increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfection of all aircraft; that, if flights are not full, passengers should be spaced throughout the cabin; that passengers be given disinfection wipes to clean their seat areas.