The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on governments to ensure that aviation workers be next in line for COVID vaccines after healthcare workers and vulnerable groups.
IATA sought to justify its comments by saying the aviation industry is integral to the distribution of medical supplies, medicines and soon, the COVID-19 vaccine itself.
“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 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.
Ban: Emirates, Etihad maintain UK flights
India and countries across the Gulf are among around 40 nations to have blocked flights coming from the UK amid fears of a new variant of the coronavirus which was first discovered in Britain.
But UAE flag carriers, Emirates and Etihad, have confirmed that so far their passenger schedule is uninterrupted. Flights are full and there is no indication that capacity is being reduced on any routes yet.
Saudi Arabia has for one week suspended all international flights in and out of the kingdom. Kuwait, Oman, Jordan, Turkey, Iran and Israel are blocking flights from the UK. So too are Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. Air Arabia has stopped flights between Morocco and the UK.
If the UAE was to follow, it would impact many more passengers. Passenger demand for UK-UAE routes has spiked in December, which is one of the busiest times of the year for profitable services between London, Manchester, Glasgow and Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Rather than stop flights though, Etihad Airways has tightened entry requirements. The UAE’s national airline has reintroduced a requirement for all passengers from the UK to present a negative PCR test within 72 hours validity of their flight departure time.
Emirates has been approached for comment on whether it wi