It is with great respect that we see air traffic control staff continuing to perform their duties in circumstances none of us has experienced before. Traffic patterns have changed dramatically while sanitation measures have become a daily routine in our workplaces. No-one knows how long the COVID-19 crisis will go on. It is of course also difficult for IFATCA to predict how and when we return to “normal”.
For now, saving lives and making sure the outbreaks remain as contained as possible is the absolute priority and that should be the focus of our work.
It is a State’s obligation to provide Air Traffic Services in their respective airspace. This includes making contingency arrangements. In a letter, the Secretary general of ICAO reminded States of these commitments when they are reviewing in how to cope with this crisis. The following priorities should apply:
- Aircraft in state of emergency
- Operations related to humanitarian aid, medical and relief flights
- Alternate aerodromes including those for extended diversion operations (EDTOs)
- Technical landings where passengers do not disembark
- Cargo flights
- Other safety related operations
In that spirit, we call on all air traffic control staff to continue to support your authorities in defeating the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, we appeal to service providers and governments to eliminate any uncertainty for job security, income or other economic consequences for their ATS staff.
Despite the difficult situation, we know that professionalism will see us through this challenge.