The International Air Transport Association (IATA) urged governments to exempt crews from COVID-19 testing that is applied to air travelers.
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Council Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) guidelines specifically recommend that crew members should not be subject to screening or restrictions applicable to other travelers. Furthermore, health screening methods for crew members should be as “non-invasive as possible.”
An increasing number of states are applying the same public health measures for crew that are applied to the general traveling public, said IATA. This includes providing proof of a negative COVID test prior to departure and in some cases a second negative COVID test is required upon arrival.
The current measures “not only contravene the recommended ICAO global guidance, they fail to take into account the fact that interactions with the local population are minimized,” said Gilberto Lopez Meyer, IATA’s Senior Vice President, Safety and Flight Operations.
“Airlines are willing to invest in safety that delivers meaningful outcomes, but that is not the case with unilateral, uncoordinated testing requirements,” said Meyer. “States should acknowledge that crew present a different risk profile than passengers and that more flexibility and relaxation of testing requirements and/or quarantine could be considered including exemptions,” he added.
In addition to the intrusion and physical discomfort of daily COVID-19 testing, there are significant cost considerations, said IATA. One global airline has estimated the cost of complying with such requirements for a single daily flight would add up to an additional $950,000 per year, according to the industry body.