Covid-19

Covid-19: regulatory and supervisory measures in Aviation & Aerospace

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  • Covid-19 and groundhandling: Regulation (EU) 2020/696 on common rules for the operation of air services in view of the Covid-19 pandemic includes temporary rules on groundhandling: extension of authorisations for selected service providers, possibility for the airport managing body to appoint – without  a selection procedure – a service provider for six months or until 31 December 2020 whichever is the longer period, in case a groundhandler ceases its activity before the end of the period for which it was selected (here).
  • Covid-19 and slots: Regulation (EU) 2020/459 on common rules for the allocation of slots at Community airports aims at considering slots that have not been used due to Covid-19, as having been operated, this way preserving carriers’ grandfather rights (solution applicable to coordinated airports). Further delegated acts are expected to be taken. Meanwhile, a consultation is taking place on the proposal to amend the Slots Regulation. Response is possible until 28 September 2020 (here).
  • Covid-19 and state aid: The EC has adopted a Temporary Framework authorising state aid measures to support the economy. Member States may now provide direct grants, selective tax advantages, advance payments and loans, among other measures. The Temporary Framework has been amended three times since its adoption on 19 March 2020 (here). A number of carriers, airports and groundhandling service providers have already benefitted from state aid measures following Covid-19.
  • Covid-19 and Data Protection: The European Data Protection Board on 21 April 2020 published its Guidelines 03/2020 on the processing of data concerning health for the purpose of scientific research in the context of the Covid-19 outbreak. The European Commission on 17 April 2020 communicated its Guidance 2020/C 124 I/01 on Apps supporting the containment of the Covid-19 pandemic in relation to data protection. The Belgian DPA has pointed out that certain measures relating to temperature screening upon entering an airport terminal require a legal basis where it concerns processing by automated means. Temperature screening that is “only subject to a live reading and no data is stored does not constitute such processing”(here).
  • Covid-19 and drones: New EU rules on drones have been postponed by 6 months, to 31 December 2020. EASA opened a public consultation on new standards for certification of light drones. The proposal is open for comment until 30  September 2020 (here).
  • Covid-19 and space: Maintaining high speed internet is crucial in the context of Covid-19.  Regulatory initiatives of ITU members to maintain a sufficient level of network resiliency include: increased broadband capacity and speeds, release of additional IMT spectrum licenses, suspension of reporting obligations and use of vacant spectrum (here). Space technologies are being used for developments in the health sector. Announcements of opportunity have been launched by ESA inviting companies to submit projects to respond to the pandemic (here).
  • Covid-19 and passenger rights: Interpretative Guidelines were adopted by the EC, aimed at clarifying how certain provisions of the EU passenger rights legislation apply in the context of the sanitary crisis. The Guidelines recall the right for air passengers, in case of flight cancellation, to be given the alternative between rerouting and reimbursement, allowing the refunds to take the form of a voucher for passengers choosing so (here).
  • Covid-19 and package travel: The Belgian Ministry for Economy has defined Covid-19 as extraordinary circumstance allowing termination of an order for package travel upon two conditions: (1) the package travel is scheduled during the Covid-19 outbreak and (2) the destination is located in an area affected by the pandemic. Reimbursement of the amount paid may be replaced by a voucher (here). The EC has adopted Recommendations on vouchers offered as an alternative to reimbursement for cancelled package travel and transport service in the context of COVID-19 (whether or not in the context of a travel package) and considers that vouchers should have a validity of 12 months and be reimbursed if not redeemed within the period of validity (here). 
  • Covid-19 and safety: ICAO has developed a Handbook (Doc 10144 ICAO) for Civil Aviation Authorities on the Management of Aviation Safety Risks related to Covid-19.  It a.o. underlines the importance of “the three Cs”: Collaboration, Communication and Cooperation (here). EASA and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) published joint guidelines to assure health safety of air travellers. The Covid-19 Aviation Health Safety Protocol is available online (here).
  • Covid-19 and ATM/ATC: Operators in Europe will have more time to have aircraft equipped with new ATM surveillance technology. Deadline to comply with the new ADS-B requirements is postponed until 7 December 2020 (here). The Eurocontrol Member States have agreed to a payment deferral for route charges (here).
  • Covid-19 and cargo: In March 2020, the EC communicated Guidelines to facilitate air cargo operations during the Covid-19 outbreak (here). The Commission already before underlined that the boarders should stay open to freight and that supply chains for essential goods should be guaranteed. Green Lanes have been put in place (here). Special Guidance has been published by IATA on the transportation of dangerous goods during the pandemic, especially alcohol- based sanitizers.
  • Covid-19 and public procurement: The EC on 1 April 2020 communicated its Guidance 2020/C 108 I/01 on using the public procurement framework in the emergency situation related to the COVID-19 crisis. The Commission has thereby explained which options and flexibilities are available under the EU public procurement framework for the purchase of the supplies, services, and works needed to address the crisis (here).