IATA and ICS: Government Must Promote Ship Crew Change

April 23, 2020

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) jointly called on governments to take urgent measures to facilitate the crew’s diversion of seafarers. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, seafarers had to extend the service time on board after several months of voyage at sea, and could not be replaced after long-term travel or returning home.

Shipping is essential to maintaining the global supply chain, but the current situation is unsustainable for the safety and well-being of seafarers and the safe operation of maritime trade. Every month, about 100,000 merchant seamen need to be replaced from the ships they operate to ensure compliance with international maritime regulations that protect safety, health and welfare.

Due to COVID-19, the government has imposed travel restrictions, and therefore cannot provide flights for repatriation or placement of sea personnel. Immigration and health check agreements also hinder the ability of merchant ships to make critical crew changes. IATA and ICS are working together to propose safe and practical solutions that the government can implement to facilitate crew changes at certain airports.

“Seafarers are unsung heroes. They go beyond their responsibilities every day throughout the COVID-19 crisis to ensure that they provide the goods they need. We are working with airlines to come up with solutions. Now, we need government support Seafarers, and provide them with safe passage so that they can return to their loved ones ’homes and be replaced by crews who are prepared to keep the supply chain open.” Said ICS Secretary General Guy Platten.

“In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, airlines must cut passenger services. However, if the government recognizes an airport where seafarers can use to change crew members and make appropriate adjustments to current health and immigration agreements, airlines can Help keep global logistics smooth, “said Alexander de Juniac, Director General and CEO of IATA.

Designated airport
ICS and IATA called on all governments to designate a specific number of occupants to change airports for the safe movement and repatriation of occupants. This will restore the critical number of flight crew changes to these airports, thereby keeping the global supply chain open.

Priority airports should include those close to major shipping routes, which can also establish air links directly with major seafarers ’countries of residence (such as China, India, and the Philippines) and destinations in Western and Eastern Europe.

Promote the movement of international transportation personnel
Airline and transportation companies face common challenges while changing personnel while complying with immigration and quarantine restrictions imposed by most governments around the world.

As the authorities continue to fight COVID-19, international transport personnel operating aircraft and ships or crossing international borders to perform missions are often subject to national restrictions on passengers and non-essential personnel. When applied to crew members who do not interact with local communities, these restrictions unnecessarily compromise airlines and shipping companies’ ability to keep global supply chains running.

IATA and ICS are working with global regulators-the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO)-to propose to the government regarding standardized procedures and agreements for locating occupants, while preventing further proliferation of COVID-19.

Maintain global supply chain operations
The aviation and maritime industry are the lifeblood of the global economy, and are moving the world ’s commodities and products, which is necessary for society to continue to operate effectively throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

By volume, approximately 90% of global trade is shipped by ship, including food, energy, raw materials and manufactured goods
In addition to passengers, airlines also account for about 35% of global trade by value, including key medicines and medical supplies
The G20 government promised in a recent emergency meeting to “minimize interference with trade and global supply chains” and determined that priority needs to be given to keeping air and maritime logistics networks open and operating effectively.

Shipping companies and airlines are working together to achieve this priority goal by ensuring continued reliable operations throughout the pandemic. However, if replacement personnel cannot perform their duties, these networks will be paralyzed. Governments must now take urgent action immediately to avoid further attacks on the battered global economy.