The recent outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) has had a devastating impact on the countries and economies of Southeast Asia. The air transport industry has been one of the hardest hit sectors.

“I would like to reassure the traveling public that IATA and its member airlines are closely monitoring recommendations from local national and international health authorities such as the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control in the USA,” said Giovanni Bisignani Director General & CEO of IATA.

The air transport industry constantly works to reduce risks, be it in the security or safety areas, and in this case the health sector. The airlines are experienced in dealing with health issues, including infectious diseases, for which they have a Recommended Practice 1798 - Carriage of Passengers with Infectious Diseases.

In the case of SARS, the air transport industry is doing everything in its power to minimize risks, implementing guidelines and specific measures as required by national health authorities.

Measures put in place by the airlines when needed include:

  • Cooperation with health authorities at departure and arrival points
  • Special training for staff
  • Screening passengers at check-in for SARS symptoms
  • Surveillance of passengers during the flight for symptoms
  • Provision of masks and gloves
  • Procedures for cabin crew and maintenance teams
  • Disinfecting procedures for aircraft

“Despite the challenges facing the air transport industry - the sluggish economy, an armed conflict in Iraq and the outbreak of this new virus - an estimated 100 million passengers traveled safely in March. The safety of passengers and airline staff remains our top priority,” says Bisignani.