The International Air Transport Association (IATA) renewed its call on governments to ensure that employees in the aviation sector are considered as essential workers during the impending COVID-19 vaccine campaign, once health care workers and vulnerable groups have been protected.
IATA’s 76th Annual General Meeting (AGM) had unanimously adopted a resolution to this effect.
“We are not asking for aviation workers to be on top of the list, but we need governments to ensure that transportation workers are considered as essential when vaccine roll-out plans are developed. The transportation of the COVID-19 vaccines has already begun, and as calculations show, it will require the equivalent of 8,000 Boeing 747 freighter aircraft for global distribution. It is therefore essential that we have the qualified workforce in place to ensure a functioning logistics chain,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
IATA’s call is aligned with the proposed Roadmap for Prioritizing Uses of COVID-19 Vaccines by the World Health Organization’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE). This recommends priority populations for vaccination based on the respective epidemiologic situation and vaccine supply scenarios. Within this framework, SAGE has included transportation workers alongside other essential sectors outside health and education sectors including police, for example.
The AGM also reiterated the vital role of air transport in facilitating the global response to the pandemic, including the timely distribution of medicines, testing kits, protective equipment and eventually vaccines around the world.