MIAMI – The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has asked governments to prioritize vaccination for Air Crews.

ICAO, with the support of the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the World Health Organization( WHO), issued the Joint Statement, which includes sea crew as well.

Air France-KLM Pilot. Photo: Roland Rimoczi/Airways

Ensure Continuity in Air and Sea Transportation

According to the ICAO’s press release issued on March 26, the reasons behind the request lies in the necessity to ensure continuity in air and sea transport, both for people and freight, sustained by a joint statement signed by the above-cited organizations.

ICAO Secretary-General Dr. Fang Liu stressed the demand by declaring, “The implementation of the current WHO recommendations are of primordial importance to the continued and optimal operation of the international civil aviation network, and therefore to the transport worldwide of essential shipments and workers.”

ICAO Council Chamber – Photo : Apetrov09703, CC BY-SA 4.0

Facilitate Free Travel for Air, Sea Crews

The joint declaration emphasizes the WHO’s advice to countries against the requirement, at the present time, of proof of vaccination for crews to cross borders during international travel. The reasons invoked to sustain this advice are “both the critical unknowns regarding the efficacy of vaccination in reducing transmission, and the limited global availability of vaccine doses.”

More to the point, the Joint Statement puts emphasis on the necessity to keep air and sea transport going in order to maintain global travel and trade, a key to achieve social and economical recovery. This would be made possible by a harmonized vaccination proofing system as the basis of unhindered travel for air and sea crews.

The ICAO Secretary-General also pointed out that the imposition of stringent public health measures for air and sea workers has brought forward problems in operations, connectivity, and an increase in costs. Thus, the statement asks governments to give priority to air and sea crews along with other essential workers in vaccination schemes and follow the WHO SAGE Roadmap when prioritizing COVID-19 vaccines.

According to ICAO, the pre-pandemic total air traffic number linked industry professionals amounted to 887,000 people, including pilots, air traffic controllers, and licensed maintenance technicians.

Emirates Crew at Banhkok Suvarnabhumi Airport – Photo : Mattes, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons