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International: International Civil Aviation Organization Adopts COVID-19 Declaration

(Mar. 10, 2020) On March 9, 2020, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) adopted the COVID-19 Declaration, which affirms the urgent need to reduce the risks of the spread of COVID-19 by air transport and to protect the health of air travelers and aviation personnel. As of February 2020, the ICAO estimated an overall reduction of approximately 40% of passenger capacity in the first quarter of 2020, as compared to airline industry projections.

The Declaration follows a joint ICAO-WHO statement last week that urges stakeholders to follow existing international regulations and guidance, including the Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) contained in the Annexes to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, particularly the SARPs incorporated into Annex 9, which establishes procedures to combat the spread of contagious diseases. In addition, the joint ICAO-WHO statement reaffirms the importance of adhering to the WHO International Health Regulations, temporary recommendations, and technical guidance, following the WHO Director-General’s declaration on January 30, 2020, of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. It also emphasized the importance of cooperation and coordination between governments and the private sector to mitigate risks.

The ICAO has also issued a set of Q&As for states, air transport operators, and the general public regarding the impact of COVID-19 on aviation. The Q&As for the general public address such matters as whether it is safe to fly and how to prevent infection while traveling.

Background to the ICAO

The ICAO was established by UN member states in 1944 to implement and manage the Convention on International Civil Aviation, more commonly known as the Chicago Convention.  The ICAO currently has 193 member states who work with domestic airline industry groups and other stakeholders to ensure safe and secure air travel.