Aviation personnel should be granted “key worker” status by national governments worldwide to ensure that they will be exempt from COVID-19−related travel restrictions and that they will have access to emergency medical treatment, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) says.
ICAO joined the International Labour Organization and the International Maritime Organization in issuing a statement on Tuesday that called for the same key worker status to be applied to air cargo supply chain personnel and to others in the maritime, fishing and offshore energy industries.
“The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has placed the entire world in an unprecedented situation,” said the statement, signed by ICAO Secretary General Fang Liu and the leaders of the other two organizations. “To slow the spread of the disease and mitigate its impacts, travel is being curtailed and borders are being closed. Transport hubs are being affected. Some ports and airports are being closed and ships and aircraft denied entry.”
The statement added, “We are seeking the support of governments to facilitate crew changes, operations essential to maintain the global cargo supply chains and operations related to humanitarian aid, medical and relief flights. For humanitarian reasons, and the need to comply with international safety and employment regulations, crew changes cannot be postponed indefinitely.”
The statement also called on world governments, “if necessary, to facilitate emergency repatriation” for individuals with the “key worker” designation.
The World Health Organization said that, as of Tuesday, there were about 5.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 217 countries, areas or territories worldwide and more than 349,000 confirmed deaths.