IFAIMA, IFATCA, IFATSEA and ITF joint statement on Air Navigation Services

During these trying times, IFAIMA, IFATCA, IFATSEA and ITF would like to offer our deepest condolences to the families of those who lost a loved one to the pandemic. We express our sincere sympathies to those affected by the virus and the measures in place to combat the spread, and share everyone’s concerns with regards to the long term impacts on society.

We understand the restriction of passenger flights is an effective mitigation to the spread. However, it must also be recognised that the efficient transit of freight flights is critical to the timely distribution of medical supplies and personnel. In a number of remote locations, it is of paramount importance to facilitate the timely operations of MEDEVAC flights; these air missions are indeed essential to transport those who require immediate and critical healthcare towards facilities that can accommodate their needs.

Amid this pandemic, Air Traffic Management (ATM) staff and, in particular, air traffic controllers continue to work, keeping our skies safe. They provide crucial services to the medical, humanitarian, military, repatriation and cargo flights still taking place. International organisations, governments, regulators and Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) must ensure continuity of operations by complying with the health and sanitary requirements that this situation demands. They must also provide sufficient financial and regulatory support to the ANSPs to fulfill their mission [1].

IFAIMA, IFATCA, IFATSEA and ITF are working closely with the relevant United Nations agencies and other key international organisations to provide guidance material, gather and share best practices and offer support to those associations and professionals in need of assistance.

In the longer term, the COVID-19 pandemic will remain a global health emergency for the foreseeable future and has triggered an economic catastrophe. Millions of people are already suffering the dire economic circumstances as businesses shut down, income is reduced, and jobs disappear.

We thank those governments that have put in place income protection for workers and urge that any remaining people not covered should also be assisted.
It is crucial that governments understand the importance of aviation and support the aviation industry. Laying off highly qualified staff and/or implementing irreversible cost-reduction measures will delay the recovery of the aviation industry and should be avoided at all cost. Protecting these jobs in this crisis and enabling the training for existing and new staff will guarantee that aviation can support functioning global supply chains and ensure that they are capable to lead in the economic recovery when the pandemic has been contained.

The current situation highlights that Air Navigation Services (ANS) are part of a country’s essential infrastructure, playing a key role in the distribution of much-needed medical and other supplies to address this health crisis. This was for instance recognised by the EU Ministers of Transport in their most recent video conference [2] at the end of April 2020. Regrettably, the funding of this critical infrastructure is at risk due to the flawed financing mechanism that includes airspace users wanting to defer the payment of route charges already incurred. This will severely impact both the current and future operation of ANSPs

IFAIMA, IFATCA, IFATSEA and ITF therefore call on governments to provide immediate financial and regulatory support for all air navigation service providers, in order to ensure the provision of air navigation services is financially supported to overcome this crisis and ensure that sufficient essential qualified staff is available when commercial air traffic returns. We also urge to investigate alternative and sustainable ways of financing these and other essential services, making them less dependent on volatility and economic downturns.

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Open Letter to the European Commission

The joint signatories of the ‘We are All One in the Sky’ initiative – representing airlines, air navigation service providers, airports, business aviation, general aviation, helicopters, aircraft and drone manufacturers and professional staff organisations – have issued an open letter to the European Transport Commissioner, Ms Vălean, on the EASA proposal for a high-level regulatory framework for unmanned aviation operations and UAS traffic management (UTM / U-Space).



The letter calls on the European Commission to:

  • Develop further the latest regulation proposal to secure the support of the aviation industry
  • Launch a new and more comprehensive consultation, involving key representatives from manned and unmanned aviation organisations all together
  • Ensure the transparency and efficiency of the regulatory processes and related decision-making processes

The signatories encourage and support the ambition of the European Union to lead global efforts to develop a proportionate regulatory framework for U-Space. From a safety, public security, capacity, and economic perspective a performance-based and risk-based regulatory framework can provide certainty to all airspace users and the aviation community. Ultimately it can also facilitate the safe integration of drones in Europe’s skies, ensuring commercial drone services can grow.

The signatories believe that the upcoming U-Space Regulation represents an important first opportunity to achieve this goal worldwide. The lessons learnt from the implementation of the proposed regulation in Europe should be leveraged to inform ICAO’s Global UTM Framework and other regulatory efforts across the world. As such, it is crucial that the regulatory framework achieves a number of key principles, as set out in the joint signatories’ letter of November 2019, and ensures the buy-in of the whole industry – manned and unmanned.

While some progress has been made since the first draft Opinion was published in October 2019, the revised draft Regulation still does not fully address the concerns that were raised by the stakeholders in their November letter.  The signatories retain concerns on a number of issues, including the implications for the safety of all airspace users; the level of clarity on responsibilities of actors within the system; how to facilitate interoperability and the integration of operations; the potential implications of the proposed architecture of the system; and practical aspects as to how such a framework might be implemented.

The signatories call on the European Commission and Member States to take these concerns and suggestions into account when considering how to best proceed with this very important piece of regulation.

Signatories: Members of the We are ALL ONE in the Sky initiative:

Contact email: [email protected]


Updated COVID-19 Survey Results

We have updated the results of our COVID-19 survey among member associations. The results can be found here:

Besides giving an overview of the measures taken in the operational units, the expanded survey also looks at the effects on working conditions, licensing, competency and stress/anxiety among air traffic control staff.

It's part of a broader set of information that IFATCA has compiled on this page:


COVID-19 Update

We have just updated our COVID-19 Guidance Document to version 2.0. As the previous version mainly looked at how to prevent the spread of the infection in an operational environment, several new sections now also consider:

  • the possibility of a second wave
  • the impact on mental as well as physical wellbeing
  • what we can do to prevent misinformation
  • how to deal with reduced traffic demand operations.
  • the impact of the crisis on on-the-job training
  • a look ahead to the recovery phase

We have also added more videos to our COVID-19 interview. There's now a total of 15 videos, good for over 7 hours of talks with colleagues from around the world.

The latest additions include an interview in French with colleagues from ASECNA and Algeria; an interview in Spanish (or at least the answers) with our USCA colleagues from Spain; and the second Asia/Pacific interview with our MA from Taiwan.

We have collected the interview on a single page to make them easier to access. Note that you still need to login - check with your IFATCA Representative for details.


COVID-19 Interviews

We now have 12 COVID-19 interviews on our website. One of the latest additions includes an interview with three of our Iranian colleagues. Iran was one of the countries that suffered a significant outbreak of the virus early on, so it is particularly interesting to see how they have handled the situation and how it is evolving.

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Besides the interviews (which require you to login - check with your IFATCA Rep or regional EVP), we have a number of interesting resources available on our dedicated COVID-19 page:


Preliminary COVID-19 Survey Results

We've published the preliminary results of a survey among our member association on how the COVID-19 pandemic affects them and their operations. The results can be found here:

While preliminary, the survey gives a good overview of the different measures that ATC units around the world have adopted to ensure continued operations.

It's part of a broader set of information that IFATCA has complied on this page:


IFATCA PCX & CEO Message on COVID-19 Crisis

In normal circumstances, the IFATCA family would be gathering in Singapore at this moment for our 2020 Annual Conference. Unfortunately, over the past months and weeks, the world has dramatically changed from being very well connected to one of isolation. Instead of travelling to and from all corners of the world, many can not even visit their close relatives and friends.

Aviation is one of the most affected industries, with many airlines having grounded their fleet. At the same time, it is worth noting that our profession continues to play a crucial role in bringing medical supplies to the regions where they are most needed.

There's no doubt that the world will overcome this challenge. What is not yet clear, is what the long term effects on our industry, the economy and society overall will be. But there is no doubt that aviation professionals, including air traffic controllers, will continue to play a crucial role in recovering from this global crisis.

In the meantime, our priorities as professionals should be:

  • To ensure the safest possible circumstances for air traffic controllers worldwide.
  • To guarantee the continuity of the service given the vital role in combating this crisis.
  • To counteract the possible long-term effects of this crisis, including the ability to revert when demand increases again.

Short term thinking and exclusive focus on economics have dearly cost our industry in the past. Drastic cutbacks now will make long-term recovery a lot more complicated and uncertain. It is an essential message that IFATCA and other staff representatives must bring to those in charge.

Our strongest assets as controllers are our flexibility and resilience. These will be tested to the fullest in the coming weeks and months, as will be our professionalism and motivation. This health crisis impacts each one of us, as do the measures to combat it. IFATCA, its Executive Board and Member Associations will do their utmost to support each one of you in maintaining the necessary focus.

We can and we will get through this.  With communication, cooperation, and collaboration we have always helped each other in the best of times and the worst of times.

Let us continue to work together to help each other as our founding associations envisioned.

We are IFATCA, we are strong and we will recover.
One Sky, One Voice, Since 1961.

Duncan Auld,
IFATCA President and CEO

Over the coming days and weeks, we will be adding information and resources to the IFATCA website. More sensitive information will most likely end up in the member-only section. While this is a global pandemic, we ask Member Associations to coordinate through their Regional Vice Presidents.

Download the statement (PDF)


COVID-19 Statement

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:

  1. Aircraft in state of emergency
  2. Overflights
  3. Operations related to humanitarian aid, medical and relief flights
  4. Alternate aerodromes including those for extended diversion operations (EDTOs)
  5. Technical landings where passengers do not disembark
  6. Cargo flights
  7. 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.


Coronavirus Guidance

The world is once again facing a global crisis that is not sparing the aviation industry. This crisis will impact each and every one of us in a number of ways. It is inevitable that every Member Association will be asked to contribute to the effort of their ANSP to manage the crisis.

IFATCA has developed Guidance Material to help its Member Associations respond to the COVID-19 crisis surrounding the responses of their employers and the aviation industry in general. This Guidance Material aims to support the IFATCA Member Associations to assist where possible their employers (Governments, National Agencies, Air Navigation Services Providers).

As an additional resource, a discussion forum is available via Google Groups - the content can be seen without an account but if you would like to participate in the discussion you will need to register.


Conference 2020 Update

Conference 2020 Update: the outbreak of COVID-19 / nCOV-2019 has impacted the planning of the IFATCA 2020 Conference. Singapore saw an early, but well-contained outbreak, and limited global spread, but in the past days, the global situation has rapidly deteriorated.

Specifically for our Conference, mandatory isolation or quarantine for operational personnel returning from travel could mean a negative impact on the global air navigation capacity in a time of need.

The Executive Board has continued to endeavour to hold the Conference in line with the principles detailed in our manual. However, after reviewing the latest information and despite our best efforts, the Executive Board has determined that, in accordance with Article IV, Paragraph 1.1 of the Constitution, our Annual Conference cannot proceed as planned.

Over the coming days, the Executive Board will explore the possibility of organising a replacement event later in the year in line with provisions of the Manual. Further details will be provided as soon as possible.

People are reminded that it is their own responsibility to amend any hotel bookings.

The Executive Board thanks the Singapore Association and Organising Committee, all Member Associations, delegates, and conference attendees for their flexibility, patience, and understanding in this unprecedented circumstance.


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