Airlines should maintain services to Ebola-hit regions that need connections with the outside world, in order to fight the disease, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said on Monday, after more carriers put flights on hold.
“The industry needs only to screen passengers at airports in infected areas, apply rigorous procedures, including isolation when handling suspected cases, and fully disinfect planes afterward,” IATA said, citing World Health Organisation (WHO) advice that aviation constitutes a “low risk” for Ebola transmission.
“They have been very clear that travel and trade bans are unnecessary,” Raphael Kuuchi, IATA’s vice president for Africa, told the body’s Africa Aviation Day conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, adding that “unless this advice changes, we hope that countries working hard to eradicate Ebola continue to benefit from air connectivity.”
IATA issued the plea after Kenya Airways Ltd., Africa’s third-largest carrier, said it would cease flying today to Liberia and Sierra Leone, on the advice of the Kenyan health ministry.
The WHO said in order to coordinate efforts to contain Ebola spread and provide timely updates to passengers, it would establish a travel and transport task force, also having heads of IATA and other major industry bodies as members.