Today we are launching a series of blogs to highlight what we are doing to support the UK aviation industry restart and begin its recovery safely. In the first one in the series, the CAA's International Director, Ben Alcott, takes a look at the Covid-Security assurance scheme:
As the UK Civil Aviation Authority's (CAA) lead on our independent and voluntary Covid-Security assurance scheme, I am pleased to say that we have now issued our first three letters of assurance to British Airways, Heathrow Airport, and East Midlands Airport. This assurance scheme confirms the measures that UK airlines and airports have put in place to provide COVID-security for passengers and staff.
Back in November last year, the Global Travel Taskforce's (GTT) first report recommended a system of assurance of air travel to evidence the aviation industry's compliance with international guidance provided by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). This guidance closely aligns with the UK government's own aviation COVID-19 guidance for air passengers and for operators, which was published last year.
We formally launched our scheme back in February 2021 and as well as the three organisations who have already received their letters of assurance, we have 12 other airlines and airports already participating.
The assurance scheme led by us here at the CAA and is conducted by a team consisting of a CAA inspector and medical professional. They are joined by a public health expert from the relevant Public Health agency - depending on where in the UK the airport or airline is they are either from Public Health England, Public Health Scotland, Public Health Wales, or Northern Ireland's Public Health Agency. Together, this team assess whether the measures taken by airlines and airports meet the requirements set out in the UK and ICAO guidance.
The assessment looks at compliance with guidance on general hygiene, masks and face coverings, health screening and declarations, the mental health and well-being of employees and passengers, as well as specific steps for passengers with reduced mobility.
Even before the launch of our assurance scheme, UK airlines and airports had already put in place significant measures to protect passengers during the pandemic. Our assurance scheme recognises these efforts and is playing an important role in developing an international approach to COVID-security in aviation. It is worth remembering that the assurance scheme is voluntary though, so if an airline or airport does not choose to participate in the scheme it does not mean that they are not COVID-secure.
I would like to thank British Airways, Heathrow Airport and East Midlands Airport for all their support in developing and testing the scheme during the pilot scheme last summer, as well as all of the airports and airlines who are already participating. We look forward to working with the aviation industry as we continue to roll the scheme out and return to air travel here in the UK.
Ben Alcott, International Director
UK Civil Aviation Authority