ICAO president Salvatore Sciacchitano has declared that there is an end in sight to the pandemic in terms of the recovery of the international aviation sector. The president’s comments came as the ICAO Council announced it had approved six new Covid-19 recommendations, and amended two others, as countries continue to co-operate in order to optimise the role of international air transport in the global pandemic recovery and ensure the speedy resumption of air travel.

    The new and amended recommendations and updated guidelines are contained in the high-level cover document and Take-off guidelines issued by the council’s aviation recovery task force (CART), established shortly after the pandemic was identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

    Commenting on the initiative Sciacchitano said: “After the 70 per cent decrease in air traffic, international air transport can now see the light at the end of the tunnel thanks also to these new recommendations and guidelines. Following the emergence of new virus variants, the vaccine rollouts, and other innovations to battle Covid-19, the work of CART has targeted specific issues related to testing and vaccination of passengers as part of a State’s multilayer risk management strategy with the ultimate objective of restoring public confidence in air travel and getting passengers to fly again.”

    Specific areas relating to the transport of vaccines on commercial aircraft have been newly addressed by the CART, requiring attention and action on behalf of pharmaceutical manufacturers, airline and airport operators, and national aviation regulators. These include addenda to the ICAO Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air to help better ensure that vaccines are safely handled, transported and accepted to promote their rapid and effective global distribution.

    Air crew were also the focus of new recommendations pertaining to regulatory alleviations and the continuous need of service providers and air transport essential personnel, including pilots and controllers. This relates to the need to maintain the validity of their certificates, licenses, and other professional accreditations and approvals.

    In February, ICAO and the World Customs Organisation (WCO) published a joint statement calling on governments to demonstrate “maximum flexibility” with respect to border clearance and air transport supply chain operations essential to the  distribution of Covid-19 vaccines and related medical supplies.