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Zika virus

Latest update 10/08/2016: please see below for more details.

On 1 February 2016 the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee declared that the Zika outbreak detected in South America constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. On 19 February, the European Parliament passed a Motion for Resolution which, following the WHO-recommendations on prevention in European countries, calls on the Commission and Member States to significantly enhance monitoring of invasive mosquito species and increase controlling mosquitoes by eliminating breeding sites (like pools) and planning for insecticide spraying in case of outbreaks. As well as recommending improved disinfection rates of cargo, cargo carriers and cabin and passenger compartments of planes from infected countries.

Initially, the Italian Government took a step further and already implemented, through its NAA, ENAC a requirement for all aircraft operating into Italian airports and regardless of point of origin, to have been 'disinsected' in accordance with the World Health Organisation Guidance (see link below), demonstrated by the carriage of a valid “Certificate of Residual Disinsection” which must be on-board all aircraft at all times.

ERA, in consultation with other European airline associations expressed the opinion that this requirement by the Italian authorities is disproportionate and impractical and we presented a joint letter (available via the downloads button) to the Italian authorities and airport operators requesting reconsideration.

The key message of ERA’s position is that imposing impractical and eventually unrealistic measures onto airspace operators is not operationally feasible. We believe that the request of the Italian authorities of imposing residual 'disinsection' for all flights is totally out of proportion with the disease and is not aligned with what all WHO Member States, including other EU Member States have decided to implement.

The initial feedback received from our members who operate in Italy is that for aircraft operators, these measures were causing insurmountable operational difficulties and could lead to severe disruptions of their operations. In addition, the initially required 'residual disinsection' to be performed by certified/specialised companies may not be available at all airports in Italy. This implies that aircraft could be grounded for hours, or even has to be re-positioned to airports where this 'disinsection' process is available.

We therefore have urged the Italian authorities to consider more commensurate measures regarding 'disinsection' of aircraft in line with the actual WHO recommendations as illustrated by the measures introduced by other EU Member States. We would also encourage you to coordinate closely with ENAC to ensure that appropriate and clear communication is disseminated to all the impacted airlines operating in Italy, so as to avoid confusion on the actual requirements. We have also requested a meeting with the authorities to further discuss the above concerns and the Directorate will keep you informed of developments.

Update

Latest update 10/08/2016: On 27 July 2016 the Italian Health authorities published a communication introducing an exemption from the obligation on the airlines to provide the residual disinsection certificate. In order to benefit from this waiver, the carrier has to provide evidence that the aircraft in question has not performed any flight operations from areas affected by Zika virus and areas where the vector Aedes Aegypti is present for the 28 days prior to the arrival of the aircraft at the Italian airport. 

More specifically, in a communication dated 9 August 2016 to ENAC, ENAV, A.D.R., the airlines, AOC, IBAR and Ground Handlers operating to and from Rome airports, the Ministry of Health informed that in order for the air operator to be exempted from the disinsection requirements, the following cumulative conditions must be met:

  1. The air operator’s fleet does not include aircraft operating in the areas affected by the Zika virus or where Aedes Aegypty vector is present or aircraft that have been operating in those areas in the past 28 days.
  2. A precautionary declaration printed on the air operator’s letterhead  must be submitted to confirm that that the aircraft in the fleet do not perform sectors/flights in the areas affected by Zika or where the Aedes Aegypty vector is present.
  3. A list of aircraft models and registration details must be submitted.
  4. The communication of data referred to in points 2 and 3 above must be clearly signed by the airline/airline Station Manager/Station Representative of the airline and be in Italian or in English language.

The residual provisions applicable to aircraft and cargo before this requirement came into force remain unchanged.

Useful links

http://www.who.int/ihr/ports_airports/zika-aircraft-disinsection/en/

Contacts

For further assistance please contact Russell.Dudley@eraa.org