The first aviation companies have signed up to the European Union Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) charter for the return to normal operations under COVID-19, pledging to work with their national authorities to put measures in place to support health safety – and to report back on their experiences to help other organisations with their real-life implementations.
Ten companies from across Europe declared they would abide by the guidelines developed by EASA and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on request of the European Commission. The COVID-19 Aviation Health Safety Protocol is based on current scientific information about the spread of COVID-19 and the expert opinion of the two Agencies, and is designed to ensure safe travel for passengers and air personnel.
“I am delighted to welcome these first implementers of our guidelines and charter,” said EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky. “These airlines and airports will lead the way in applying the recommended measures and will share their experiences with us. This will help us to reach the ultimate goal of harmonised, health-safe travel across Europe and to destinations beyond.”
The first mover group comprises seven airport operators – operating major airports in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Spain and other locations – and three airlines – Aegean Airlines, easyJet and Wizz Air. Full names of the first participating organisations are given in the overview below, together with comments from selected CEOs. Additional signatories to the Charter will be added as they sign up.
The challenge now for these companies is to determine exactly how to implement the guidelines in their facilities and services so as to achieve the best possible compliance despite the operational constraints.
Primary recommendations of the guidelines are to observe physical distancing wherever possible, to wear a medical face mask throughout the journey and to practise scrupulous and frequent hand hygiene.
Passengers themselves are expected to take personal responsibility. For example, passengers who have COVID-19 compatible symptoms (fever, cough, sudden loss of smell, shortness of breath) or who are aware that they have come in contact with a COVID-19 case should not even travel to the airport.
The following 10 organisations were the first to sign the charter agreement in conjunction with EASA:
- Athens International Airport S.A.
- Brussels Airport Company
- Fraport AG
- S.E.A. Aeroporti di Milano
- Aéroport Nice Côte d'Azur
- Paris CDG Airport
- Aegean Airlines S.A.
- easyJet Plc
- Wizz Air Holdings Plc
Quotes from selected CEOs of participating companies
Aegean Airlines S.A.
Dimitris Gerogiannis, CEO Aegean Airlines: "In this unprecedented situation we consider cooperation across Europe crucial in order to offer the highest possible level of comfort and reassurance to our passengers”.
AENA CEO, Maurici Lucena: “Aena is deeply involved with its industry partners to implement all the initiatives that may fulfil the objective of achieving a safe and comforting air travel experience. In this sense, we are eager to participate in the pilot programme launched by EASA, as we find this initiative as extremely relevant and necessary to overcome these challenging times. The four airports within Aena’s network included in the pilot program will be the showcase for the procedures implemented at all of them, to ensure a swift and efficient return to normality to all the passengers, with a special focus on the tourists that will visit our country to enjoy their holidays”.
Athens International Airport S.A.
CEO of Athens International Airport, Dr Yiannis Paraschis, said: “Reaching the goal of harmonized, health-safe travel across Europe and beyond is the key for the return to normality in air-travel during this unprecedented crisis. We feel therefore privileged to have been chosen as one of the “pilot airports” in Europe that will implement and monitor the best practices as indicated by EASA in order to ensure a health-safe trip for our passengers and our communities. Standing together and sharing data and knowledge have always been proven strengths of our industry. I am absolutely confident that these principles will once more lead our way towards overcoming this crisis.”
Brussels Airport Company
CEO Arnaud Feist said: "At Brussels Airport, we aim to connect people and businesses in the safest way at the heart of Europe. The safety of our passengers and personnel is key so we are very pleased to be part of the EASA monitoring programme. We want to play a frontline role in developing and providing best practices in air transport, to help safeguard public health and rebuild passengers' trust in this unprecedented crisis. To this effect we work every day on the safety at our airport and we look into new technologies and improved processes. We are looking forward to exchanging information with EASA and being one of the pioneer airports in the safe return to normal aviation operations."
Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet, commented: “I am pleased to have signed up to EASA’s charter. We have worked very closely together in order to implement enhanced safety measures for the wellbeing of all onboard. The safety of our customers and crew remains our highest priority. We look forward to welcoming customers onboard in the coming days with the new measures in place.”
S.E.A. Aeroporti di Milano
SEA C.E.O. Armando Brunini: "SEA, Milan Airports is happy to contribute to the EASA programme to monitor COVID-19 operations in the aviation industry. Having common European guidelines will guarantee health-safe travel for passengers and staff, which is key for our industry’s restart.”
Groupe ADP, Paris-Charles de Gaulle
Marc Houalla, Executive Director, Director of Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, said: "As the major European hub, taking part in this pilot program is key for the relaunch of our activities at Paris-Charles de Gaulle. In a very short period of time we have been able to implement sanitary measures to help EASA and the ECDC shape a new harmonised international standard. Monitoring and giving feedback to EASA on this new international framework is an important step which allows us to fine-tune and develop best practices within Groupe ADP and the airports we manage worldwide, to quickly and safely restore air connectivity."
Wizz Air Holdings Plc
József Váradi, CEO of Wizz Air said: “I am delighted that Wizz Air is among the first ten companies to sign up for the COVID-19 Charter EASA and thus commit to adhere to the principles and responsibilities stated in the Charter. The wellbeing and safety of our passengers and crew have always been our top priority. The new era of sanitized travel has begun at Wizz Air with the recently announced range of enhanced hygiene measures to safeguard the health and safety of our customers and crew. Our state-of-the-art fleet as well as our enhanced protective measures ensure the best possible sanitary conditions for travellers. I am convinced that the experience gained and shared by airlines of this Charter will support the industry to fine tune and harmonize operations as well as the protective measures to support the return of passengers to flying.”