UN wants public health corridors to keep vital air cargo moving

21 May 2020

The UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has urged national governments to establish special COVID-19-free Public Health Corridors (PHCs).

It said that these were needed to address the “extensive and varied” country-to-country border restrictions now in place due to national pandemic measures.

ICAO Secretary General Dr Fang Liu warned that current disruptions to international air movements have severely disrupted the global aviation network, including the transport of essential items such as medical supplies and food.

An ICAO bulletin which includes detailed guidance on implementing the concept can be found at http://www.capsca.org/Documentation/CoronaVirus/eb030e.pdf.

To keep supply lines open, and access to needed supplies better assured, the ICAO Collaborative Arrangement for the Prevention and Management of Public Health Events in Civil Aviation (CAPSCA) has recommended that PHCs be established where COVID-19-free crew, aircraft and airport facilities continue to undertake their urgently-needed work.

The ICAO PHC concept is COVID-19 specific and has been developed using a risk-based approach, taking relevant safety management principles and all relevant World Health Organization (WHO) and aviation sector pandemic guidance into account.

“COVID-19 has presented the entire world with many new types of challenges, and the need to adjust how we conduct ourselves in our day-to-day lives,” Dr Fang Liu said. “As a highly integrated and complex network, international aviation has not been immune to these effects, some of which pose new challenges in managing risks which were never before considered in traditional safety management practices.”