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Fact Sheet: Public Health Preparedness

  • IATA routinely works with governments on passenger and crew health issues to coordination with the United Nation’s World Health Organization (WHO), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and Airports Council International (ACI) to:
    • Develop guidelines 
    • Hold seminars 
    • Conduct exercises that enhance the readiness of industry and public health officials to deal with a global public health emergency 
  • The SARS outbreak in 2003, years of planning for the possibility of Avian Influenza, responses to the Influenza A(H1N1) pandemic and the Fukushima nuclear accident have further prepared the industry to deal efficiently with public health emergencies
  • IATA also contributes to ICAO’s Collaborative Arrangement for the Prevention and Management of Public Health Events in Civil Aviation (CAPSCA). This project is now active in Asia, Africa, the Americas, the Middle East and Europe. The last meeting was in Manila, Philippines, in April 2013. The next CAPSCA Global meeting will be in Bern, Switzerland in June 2013

Preparedness Measures

  • IATA promotes proactive guidelines for airlines regarding suspected communicable diseases 
  • IATA prepared and maintains guidance materials (accepted by WHO) for front line airline staff, including: 
    • Cabin crew 
    • Maintenance workers 
    • Cleaners 
    • Passenger agents 
    • And cargo/baggage handlers
  • IATA worked with WHO and ICAO on two important documents for managing Influenza A(H1N1) and other public health emergencies
  • IATA is a member of an Ad-Hoc IACRNE (Inter-Agency Committee on Radiological and Nuclear Emergencies) Working Group on Air and Maritime Transportation with several UN Agencies including ACI and World Nuclear Transport Institute (WNTI)
  • IATA also collects and publishes emerging government health-related requirements to industry, governments and the traveling public through the IATA Travel Center at
  • IATA also participates in a WHO project on aircraft disinsection and in an ICAO project on aircraft disinfection

Facts and Figures

  • Airlines have equipment and measures in place to keep the cabin environment safe 
  • Modern aircraft have high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters that have a similar performance to those used to keep the air clean in hospital operating rooms and industrial clean rooms: 
    • HEPA filters are effective at capturing greater than 99% of the airborne microbes in the filtered air 
    • The cabin air system delivers approximately 50% outside air and 50% filtered, recirculated air
      • Providing between 15 to 20 cubic feet of total air supply per minute per person in economy class 
      • Air supply is essentially sterile and particle-free
  • Aircraft are regularly disinfected as part of normal cleaning routines 
  • Crew are trained in handling procedures for passengers who might become ill on board 

Updated: December 2013


Additional information

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