The American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) commended U.S. government officials for the release last week of “Runway to Recovery: The United States Framework for Airlines and Airports to Mitigate the Public Health Risks of Coronavirus.” The document, which was developed jointly by the U.S. Departments of Transportation, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services, provides guidance to airports and airlines for implementing measures to mitigate the public health risks associated with COVID-19, prepare for increased travel volume, improve consistency across the aviation system, and restore passenger confidence in air travel.
“The framework released today builds upon the important work that airports, airlines, and our federal government partners have undertaken in recent months to protect the health and safety of passengers as they return to airport facilities and take to the skies,” AAAE President & CEO Todd Hauptli said. “While many of the recommendations in the report are already being implemented in airports across the country – including enhanced cleaning and sanitization, social distancing, and minimizing in-person interaction and touch-points – uniform guidance from the federal government will be helpful in driving further enhancements and in building consistency for passengers.”
He added, “To be clear, the document isn’t perfect and some of the recommendations will be difficult for airports to implement absent federal requirements and resources, but it is an important step in the right direction during these unprecedented times. As they return to airports, the traveling public can feel confident in knowing that industry and the government are working continuously to enhance the health and safety of the travel journey.”
The framework identifies 11 recommended measures for airports and airlines to implement across all operations and stages of travel to, from, and within the United States. Those recommendations are to: educate and communicate with passengers and employees; require appropriate face coverings; promote social distancing to the extent possible; enhance cleaning and disinfection procedures; conduct health assessment for passengers and employees; collect passenger contact information for public health response purposes; protect employees and separate passengers and crew; minimize in-person interaction touch points and shared objects, documents, and surfaces; report daily status of public health risk mitigation efforts among stakeholders; enhance airport security checkpoint operations; and utilize government technology programs.
For several months, AAAE has been calling for clear and consistent guidelines, based on public health and medical expertise, on how best to respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. In testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee in May, Hauptli stated, “Our goal is simple: we need to take steps now to assure the traveling public that: 1) industry and government are committed to providing the highest levels of health and safety for air travelers and aviation workers; and 2) there are consistent processes and procedures throughout the aviation system so passengers know what to expect regardless of the airline or airport they happen to choose for their travel.”