Setting the scene

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be prevalent around the world, devastating lives and livelihoods of all nations. Social and economic consequences of this public health crisis have already outstripped predictions with greater and longer-than-anticipated destruction to all aspects of the world’s economy. As States strive to protect the health of their citizens as a matter of priority, travel restrictions, border closures and other public health mitigation measures have significantly impeded global mobility and freedom of movement, causing disruptions in businesses and supply chains. Among the large number of impacted industries, aviation remains in severe hardship with depressed air travel demand.Recovery prospects remain uncertain, and the resurgence of cases in certain regions is likely to further exacerbate the future outlook.

Confronting this extended scale of challenges, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is determined to spare no effort to continuously provide global guidance to make it possible for aviation to restart and recover, as well as support and targeted assistance to States in need under its No Country Left Behind (NCLB) initiative. These efforts aim to safeguard the aviation sector against downside risks, restore its growth and establish a more sustainable and resilient aviation system with the ultimate objective of enabling once again the far-reaching benefits of aviation and safely connecting people, cultures and business around the world.

As part of its endeavors, the ICAO Council Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) has updated the Take-off: Guidance for Air Travel through the COVID-19 Public Health Crisis (TOGD) issued in June 2020. Updates focus on the evolving technological and medical advancements in the fight against COVID-19, as well as the feedback received from Member States, international organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO) and regional organizations and industry. The epidemiological situation changes rapidly and requires therefore timely and targeted guidance to effectively support States in their efforts to control the pandemic while pursuing the restart and recovery of aviation. In this regard, specific attention is being brought to testing as a potential means to alleviate quarantine measures and thus facilitate international movement of people and goods, as part of a multilayer risk management strategy.

Recognizing the sovereignty and authority of States over their national recovery, the importance of globally- and regionally-harmonized, mutually-accepted measures cannot be overemphasized, taking into consideration available public health capacities. States are urged to follow this updated guidance to align their approaches while upholding each State’s prerogative to implement additional and/or alternative mitigation measures in accordance with their specific needs and circumstances. Collective, coordinated and devoted efforts of States and the industry to mitigate the risks through a combination of measures will be the key to the restart and recovery of aviation and strengthen public confidence in air travel. This is the prerequisite and the only sustainable solution to overcome the economic and financial situation that the industry currently faces.

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