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GENEVA — As the industry pulls together to get travel and tourism back on its feet again, IATA is urging all airline passengers to do their part and wear a face covering throughout the air travel portion of their trip.
“This is a call for common sense and taking responsibility,” says Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
IATA issued its call after reports of passengers refusing to wear a face covering during their flight. Numerous reports have surfaced in recent weeks of incidents onboard flights with Delta, Southwest and more.
IATA notes that wearing face coverings is a key recommendation of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) guidance for safe operations during the pandemic. This guidance was developed jointly with the WHO and governments.
“The vast majority of travellers understand the importance of face covering both for themselves as well as for their fellow passengers, and airlines appreciate this collective effort. But a small minority create problems,” said de Juniac.
De Juniac adds: “Safety is at the core of aviation, and compliance with crew safety instructions is the law. Failure to comply can jeopardize a flight’s safety, disrupt the travel experience of other passengers and impact the work environment for crew.”
Just about every airline has brought in new policies about mandatory face coverings in the wake of the pandemic. IATA points out that a plane ticket is a contract under which the passenger agrees to the airline’s terms and Conditions of Carriage, and those conditions can include the airline’s right to refuse carriage to a person whose behaviour interferes with a flight, violates government regulations or causes other passengers to feel unsafe.
IATA’s Medical Advisor, Dr David Powell, says the research so far indicates that the risk of catching COVID-19 on a flight remains very low, thanks to the high flow rate of cabin air from top to bottom, “constant filtering of air through state-of-the-art HEPA filters, the fact that all seats face the same direction and of course wearing a face covering and sanitization of the aircraft all play a part,” he said.
Added Powell: “This is not just about protecting yourself. It’s about protecting everyone else on the flight.”