The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) are jointly calling on governments to take urgent measures to facilitate crew change flights for seafarers. Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, seafarers are having to extend their service onboard ships after many months at sea, unable to be replaced following long tours of duty or return home.
As a result of government-imposed travel restrictions due to Covid-19, flights to repatriate or position marine personnel are unavailable. Immigration and health screening protocols are also hampering the ability of merchant ships to conduct vitally necessary crew changes. IATA and ICS are working together to come forward with safe and pragmatic solutions that governments can implement to facilitate crew changes at certain airports.
“We are working with the airlines to come forward with solutions. We now need governments to support our seafarers and facilitate safe passage for them to get home to loved ones and be replaced by crew members ready to keep supply chains open,” said ICS secretary general, Guy Platten.
“Airlines have been required to cut passenger services in the fight to stop the spread of Covid-19. But if governments identify airports that seafarers can use for crew changes and make appropriate adjustments to current health and immigration protocols, airlines can help keep global logistics moving,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.
ICS and IATA are calling on all governments to designate a specific and limited number of crew change airports for the safe movement and repatriation of crew. This would achieve critical mass for the resumption of crew change flights to these airports, keeping global supply chains open.
Priority airports should include those close to major shipping lanes which also have direct air connections to principal seafarer countries of residence, such as China, India and the Philippines as well as destinations in western and eastern Europe.
An alliance of maritime companies representing more than 1,500 vessels and over 70,000 seafarers has this week identified a number of ideal locations around the world for collective crew changes. Key ports highlighted include Singapore, Houston, Rotterdam, Gibraltar, Jebel Ali, Fujairah, Hong Kong and Shanghai.