Providing assistance for the COVID-19 recovery in the Middle East Region

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In June, the ICAO Council adopted a new report and recommendations to help restart the air transport system and align the global recovery. The COVID-19 report and ‘Take-off’ guidelines that were produced by the Council’s Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) will be continuously updated with the latest medical and traveller health advice available. They are intended to inform, align and progress the national, regional, and industry-specific COVID-19 recovery roadmaps being implemented.

The guidelines were developed through consultations with countries and regional organizations, and with important advice from the World Health Organization and key aviation industry groups including the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Airports Council International (ACI World), the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO), and the International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations (ICCAIA).

The ICAO MID Regional Office organized a MID CART Webinar on 18 June 2020 to provide a forum for discussing the best way to implement CART guidance in the MID Region and to support States and the industry in a safe, secure and sustainable restart and recovery of the aviation sector.

The webinar was held back-to-back with the Second DGCA-MID Virtual Meeting, and was attended by a total of 173 participants from 24 States (Angola, Bahrain, Canada, Egypt, Iraq, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, UAE, Uganda, UK, USA, and Yemen), and 11 Organizations (AACO, ACAO, ACI, ASECNA, ESWACAA, IATA, IFATCA, IFALPA, DFT, WFP and ICAO) and seven participants from the industry.

The MID webinar provided an opportunity to the Directors General of Civil Aviation and all the participants to discuss important subjects related to the implementation of the CART recommendations and guidance; and achieved progress on numerous fronts.


MID Webinar Panelists

  • Mr. Mohamed Rahma, ICAO Director Air Transport Bureau
  • Mr. Abdul Wahab Teffaha, AACO’s Secretary General
  • Eng. Abdennebi Manar, Director General of ACAO
  • Mr. Muhammad Albakri, IATA Regional Vice President Africa & Middle East
  • Eng. Angie. A. Mostafa, representative of Egypt on the ICAO Council
  • Dr. Khalil M. Khalil, CAPSCA-MID Chairman

Moderator: Mr. Mohamed Smaoui, Acting Regional Director, ICAO MID Office.


Mr. Mohamed Rahma, the Director of the Air Transport Bureau at ICAO HQ, presented the CART Report and Take-off Guidance and highlighted the recommendations that were developed to standardize the regional protocols for the restart and recovery of civil aviation. After he gave an overview on building resilience and the way forward, Dr. Johanna Jordaan, Chief of the ICAO’s Aviation Medicine Section, provided an update on the Public Health Corridor (PHC).

The Panel discussed the issue of restoring passenger confidence in air transport, taking into consideration that Governments may not have the confidence to open their borders without imposing onerous measures such as quarantine and testing. In this respect, it was underlined that the quarantine and testing measures represent the main challenges for the resumption of operations by the industry. These measures are not taken at the level of the Civil Aviation Authorities and are generally imposed by the Governments based on the recommendations by their Ministries of Health.

With respect to the economic impact resulting from the pandemic, the Panel discussed financial relief strategies that could be adopted by States in line with CART recommendation #10 and key principal #8. To support the aviation industry and find the appropriate balance of individual interests without compromising aviation safety and security while ensuring fair competition during the restart, the Panel underlined that an essential element in ensuring an effective restart, recovery and resumption involved States providing support to their aviation industries financially and through their regulatory framework, in line with CART guidelines.

In connection with the above, the Panel discussed different views on the subject and supported the following set of recommendations for governments to overcome the identified challenges to ensure successful and effective restart, recovery and resumption:

  • maintain the principles of cohesiveness and working together;
  • collaborate to ensure harmonization of requirements, particularly related to testing and quarantine measures;
  • agree through credible stakeholders (ICAO, WHO, IATA, ACI, etc.) on a set of measures to ensure that passengers’ health will not be jeopardized and at the same time, that no unnecessary measures will be taken;
  • implement harmonized risk mitigation measures in full accordance with the latest and most available prudent medical and traveller health advice;
  • avoid fragmentation of measures and diversity; and
  • provide financial and regulatory support to the industry in a harmonized and coordinated manner.

In their conclusion, the Panel reiterated that an essential factor for achieving a smooth and successful restart and recovery must include the restoration of the public confidence through a collaborative approach towards effective implementation of the CART recommendations and guidance.

 

In the same vein, it was highlighted that ICAO’s top priority is to support States in implementing CART recommendations and guidance in a harmonized manner. In this respect, it was highlighted that the ICAO Secretariat is developing the ‘Global Implementation Roadmap’ which will be complemented by Regional Implementation Roadmaps, presenting the activities, mechanisms and tools put in place by ICAO to support, coordinate and monitor States’ implementation of the recommendations and guidance issued by the CART. ICAO activities, including implementation support, coordination and monitoring activities, will continue to be performed in partnership with all stakeholders.

To facilitate implementation support, coordination and monitoring activities, ICAO is continuously developing tools and making them available on an on-line ‘COVID-19 Response and Recovery Implementation Centre’ (CRRIC). Amongst other products, the CRRIC offers a ‘gap analysis tool’ and a ‘database of risk mitigation measures’ for States to report respectively on their implementation of the CART recommendations, as well as their service providers’ level of implementation of the guidance contained in the Take-off guidance document.

Coordination and monitoring activities and tools will enable the collection of feedback to help identify possible amendments to the CART recommendations and guidance and, consequently, to the Global and Regional Implementation Roadmaps, so as to continuously meet the needs of States and the aviation sector in an evolving environment. In this respect, it was highlighted that the CART Report and in particular, the Take-off Guidance, are live documents, and will be amended if there are developments.

As CART continues to review and update its work to better support the restart and recovery of civil aviation, the Panel emphasized the importance of effective communication between all stakeholders at global, regional and national levels. It was underlined that feedback from States to the regional offices is an essential factor to ensure continuous improvement and harmonization at the regional and global levels.

Replying to a question on the conduct of CAPSCA technical assistance visits, Dr. Jordaan highlighted that considering the current situation with the COVID-19, the conduct of on-site CAPSCA technical assistance visits is not feasible and even planning for future on-site visits is uncertain; however, the CAPSCA checklist is being updated in coordination with key stakeholders; and alternatively, the assistance to States is provided more through the conduct of CAPSCA webinars and online training. In this respect, she encouraged participants to enroll to the CAPSCA online Course on “Conducting a Technical Assistance Visit to CAPSCA Member States and Airports”. Furthermore, Dr. Khalil added that the CAPSCA-MID is maintaining close contact with States’ Focal Points to coordinate these activities and online assistance, as needed.

H.E. Eng. Saud A.R. Hashem, Representative of Saudi Arabia on the Council of ICAO and First Vice-President of the ICAO Council, as well as H.E. Eng. Angie. A. Mostafa and H.E. Mr. Mahmoud Elhassan, Representatives of Egypt and Sudan on the Council, participated in the Webinar. Also in attendance were ICAO Officials from HQ and other Regional Offices that included Mr. Stephen Creamer, ICAO Director Air Navigation Bureau, Mr. Barry Kashambo, Regional Director, ESAF Office and Mr. Prosper Zo’o Minto’o, Regional Director, WACAF Office.

All of the material from the Webinar’s materials including presentations and the Summary of Discussions, are available here.


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