Covid-19 updates

Covid-19 Update 13

Thursday 2 April 2020

Dear AOA Member,

As airports remain largely open, we know airport workers have been raising questions around what best practice and guidance there is on a number of aspects. The AOA team raised these issues on an cross-economy operational call with PHE that BEIS organised today.

Further, more explicit PHE guidance on critical workers and social distancing in the workplace is due for sign-off soon. PHE is also working on “de-escalation guidance from a public health perspective”, i.e. how companies should scale down the measures they’ve put in place after the outbreak peaks and at what point. We raised that both of these need to be UK-wide and include the devolved nations. We will, of course, circulate any further guidance and include it on our COVID-19 page.

We have also been emphasising that critical workers in airports should be included when testing priorities are widened beyond NHS and social care staff. PHE couldn’t be specific at this stage but did say the second tier of testing priority is expected to include all those workers deemed “essential/critical”. We will continue to press DfT to ensure airport workers are included in that.

On facemasks, the WHO regularly reviews its guidance. As reported in the media, such a review in light of new evidence is due by the end of next week. In the meantime, PHE continues to stress that there is no evidence that facemasks outside of a healthcare setting are beneficial and note that they could be counterproductive as they can harbour the virus. For example, wearers tend to touch their face more often (which is one of the key routes of infection).

Separately, I was on a call with the Business Secretary where the importance of timely and efficient payments in respect of the Job Retention Scheme (furlough) was emphasised, along with the continuing need to make progress on finding solutions for those businesses which currently cannot access either the Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility or Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme. It is widely expected that the Chancellor will make an announcement on this by the end of the week.

Via ACI EUROPE, we understand Airbus has contacted them following a request from a number of aircraft leasing companies over available aircraft parking positions at airports in Europe. In case you have parking availability, please contact Laurent Boisson, Head of External Affairs at Airbus.

Finally, some resources you may find helpful:

  • The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) has produced high-level guidance on good personnel security practices during the impact of a national/global pandemic.
  • A couple of airport members have pointed us to the Flight Safety Foundation’s recent publication on COVID-19, which they found helpful. The document includes the safety aspects of continued operations, of reduction/cessation of operations, and of re-establishing operations.

Best wishes,

Karen Dee
Chief Executive