The UK’s Department for Transport has published new aviation guidance, setting out measures operators should put in place to protect staff and passengers.
The guidance, produced by the government’s International Aviation Taskforce, in collaboration with the industry, also provides advice for passengers on how to travel safely and how to follow social distancing measures at each stage of their journey.
It focuses extensively on the health and safety of passengers and staff and, in line with international best practice, is the culmination of an extensive program of engagement between the government, aviation industry and public health experts. It outlines a framework for the industry to operate from once travel restrictions are lifted and when it is safe to do so, helping to restore jobs, trade and opportunities for travel.
The guidance to passengers covers all aspects of the travel experience, from checking the public health requirements before booking a flight, to navigating the airport safely and boarding the flight or leaving the airport.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps commented on the guidance, “The government’s advice currently remains to avoid all non-essential travel, but today we are taking the necessary steps to ensure a framework is in place for the aviation industry to bounce back when it is safe for restrictions on travel to be lifted. Today’s guidance is a positive next step towards ensuring a safer and more sustainable aviation sector.”
Tim Hawkins, chief strategy officer at MAG, added, “With similar protocols being adopted in other countries, and a targeted approach to reopening travel to low-risk countries, we will have the elements in place to get our economy moving again and protect jobs throughout the whole aviation supply chain.”
Practical advice in the guidance includes wearing face coverings when in the airport, washing hands regularly after touching any surfaces, checking in all baggage including hand luggage, and remaining seated as much as possible during the flight.
The guidance to operators will also support staff by promoting safe practices and workplaces. This includes extensive cleaning of aircraft, increasing the availability of handwashing and hand sanitizer facilities, reducing face-to-face interactions with passengers, and introducing protocols for symptomatic passengers and staff.
Government support for the aviation industry to date has provided an unprecedented package of measures, including a Bank of England scheme for firms to raise capital, Time to Pay flexibilities with tax bills, financial support for employees, and the formation of the International Aviation Taskforce – a collaborative approach between government and the aviation industry – which has been leading on work necessary to plan for the restart and recovery of the sector.
The official guidance from the DoT can be found here.