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Workers keeping the skies open for emergency COVID-19 supplies must be protected at work, according to various international associations representing air traffic management staff.
In the midst of the pandemic, air traffic management staff are on the frontline in ensuring that essential flights continue to operate safely. While passenger travel has rightly been curtailed to contain the spread of the virus, other flights remain vital to the COVID-19 response. These include transporting medical supplies by air and allowing governments to repatriate their stranded citizens.
International associations representing air traffic management staff have launched a joint statement, calling on governments and air navigation service providers to ensure safe working conditions for everyone involved in the emergency response. The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), together with the International Federation of Aeronautical Information Management Associations (IFAIMA), the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations (IFATCA) and the International Federation of Air Traffic Safety Electronics Associations (IFATSEA), demanded that all workers are protected from the risk of infection by COVID-19.
In addition, the signatories called on governments to provide immediate financial and regulatory support for air navigation service providers. Support measures should ensure continuity of service throughout and beyond the pandemic, including safeguarding jobs and incomes and ensuring that the sector does not lose its highly specialized workforce in the event of a recession.
“Air traffic management staff might be less visible to the public eye than others, but they are absolutely vital to the COVID-19 fightback. They must be able to go to work and come home safe to their loved ones. They must also have the assurance that their jobs, working conditions and livelihoods will continue to exist once the pandemic is over,” said Gabriel Mocho Rodriguez, ITF civil aviation secretary.
“IFATSEA is pleased to cooperate with the ITF and other international associations representing air traffic management staff. Along others in the sector, air traffic safety electronics personnel (ATSEPs) have to work as usual during this extraordinary period, regardless of the number of aircraft in the air. They are playing a crucial role in monitoring, controlling and maintaining critical infrastructure such as CNS and FMS systems, which are necessary for flights to continue operating,” added Thorsten Wehe, IFATSEA president.