EASA issues safety directive to combat spread of COVID-19 via airline travel

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has issued a safety directive to reduce the risk of spread of the novel coronavirus through flights to and from high risk areas. This is the first EU-wide operational measure to control the spread of COVID-19 in Europe.

The safety directive specifies measures to be taken for flights serving high-risk destinations. It mandates thorough disinfecting and cleaning of aircraft which operate from high-risk destinations after each flight. Exceptions can be made only when disinfectants with a longer-lasting effect are used – but even in those cases a thorough disinfection is mandated no later than 24 hours after departure from a high-risk airport.

“We need to reassure the passengers, the airline crews and the airport staff that their health and safety is our top priority,” European Commissioner for Transport Adina Valean said. “EU is taking concrete measures to limit and to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. That’s why EASA issued a new safety directive concerning the full disinfection for all the aircrafts after each flight from the high risk areas both in Europe and beyond.”

The definition of high risk geographical areas will be based on all available information, taking into account World Health Organisation (WHO) situation report assessments, guidance issued by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and regional public health assessments.

EASA further recommended that airlines operating on all routes step up the frequency of cleaning, disinfect as a preventative measure and ensure full disinfection of any aircraft which has carried a passenger who was suspected or confirmed as being infected with COVID-19. Airport operators should similarly disinfect terminals regularly.

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