Thursday, 17 December 2020

The International Air Transport Association calls on governments to ensure aviation staff are considered 'essential workers' for Coronavirus COVID-19 vaccine priority

                 The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has renewed its depend from governments to ensure that employees in the aviation sector are considered as essential workers during the impending Coronavirus COVID-19 vaccine campaign, once health care workers and vulnerable groups have been protected.

IATA’s 76th Annual General Meeting (AGM) had unanimously adopted a resolution to this effect.  “We are not asking for aviation workers to be on top of the list, but we need governments to ensure that transportation workers are considered as essential when vaccine roll-out plans are developed. The transportation of the COVID-19 vaccines has already begun, and as calculations show, it will require the equivalent of 8,000 Boeing 747 freighter aircraft for global distribution. It is therefore essential that we have the qualified workforce in place to ensure a functioning logistics chain,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

IATA’s call is aligned with the proposed Roadmap for Prioritizing Uses of COVID-19 Vaccines by the World Health Organization’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE). This recommends priority populations for vaccination based on the respective epidemiologic situation and vaccine supply scenarios. Within this framework, SAGE has included transportation workers alongside other essential sectors outside health and education sectors including police, for example.

The AGM also reiterated the vital role of air transport in facilitating the global response to the pandemic, including the timely distribution of medicines, testing kits, protective equipment and eventually vaccines around the world.

The blanket demand from IATA that all aviation industry employees be classified as 'essential workers' has angered many in and out of the industry.  One commercial airline pilot told us that the association was seeming to put colleagues currently on furlough ahead of say haulage drivers taking the vaccine delivery from the airports to the hospitals,  or airport passenger service agents redeployed to the accounts department ahead of benefits workers.  

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