The directive is the first EU-wide operational measure to control the spread of the Coronavirus within Europe.
The measures are to be taken for flights serving high-risk destinations and include thorough disinfecting and cleaning of aircraft after each flight. Exceptions can be made when long-lasting disinfectants are used, but even then, disinfection is mandated 24 hours after departure from a high-risk airport.
The definition of high-risk areas will be based on World Health Organization situation report assessments, guidance issued by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and regional public health assessments.
Adina Valean, European Commissioner for Transport, said: “We need to reassure the passengers, the airline crews and the airport staff that their health and safety is our top priority. EU is taking concrete measures to limit and to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. That’s why EASA issued a new safety directive concerning the full disinfection for all the aircrafts after each flight from the high-risk areas both in Europe and beyond.”
Additional guidelines are yet to be published and will include spacing passengers throughout the cabin if possible and providing them with disinfection wipes, allowing them to clean their seat area for personal reassurance.
Patrick Ky, Executive Director at EASA, said: “This directive reaffirms the commitment of aviation to combatting the spread of the novel coronavirus. We are aware that many airlines have already enhanced their cleaning procedures, and member states have put additional measures into place. Given that air transport is by its nature international – and we are dealing with a global pandemic – standardization at European level will make these measures even more efficient.”