To all Chief Executive Officers & Airport Directors of ACI EUROPE Regular Member airports
FOR INFORMATION: Outbreak of EBOLA virus disease in West Africa: European coordination & preparedness
Dear Chief Executive & Airport Director,
With the Ebola virus disease outbreak continuing to spread in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and possibly Nigeria (+1200 cases & +670 deaths), the EU Health Security Committee (HSC) held a first audio-conference last Friday to review coordination and the state of preparedness. This Committee comprises the European Commission, Health Security National authorities and the WHO – World Health Organisation.
The HSC addressed inter alia issues related to air travel to/from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The European Commission referred in this regard to the role of the European Aviation Crisis Cell (EACCC) to address significant events impacting aviation. The HSC agreed that the EACCC should be supporting its activities as needed. For the record, the EACCC includes EUROCONTROL (Network Manager), the EC, National Aviation Authorities and industry representatives, including ACI EUROPE for the airport industry and IATA for the airline industry.
Accordingly, on the same day, a special call of the EACCC was convened to discuss issues arising out of the Ebola Virus disease (in addition to the above mentioned members, WHO and ICAO joined the call). The main information & outcome of this call are as follow:
- According to EUROCONTROL, direct air services between the EU and Guinea, Liberia & Sierra Leone are rather limited and concern only a few European airports:
- Sierra Leone: 30 flights in July, mainly to LHR (18), LGW (8), STN and Liege airport.
- Guinea: 13 flights in July, almost exclusively to CDG (12) as well as one to BCN.
- Liberia: 15 flights in July, mainly to BRU.
So far, IATA reported that only one of its members has suspended flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone: Arik Air. The Nigerian CAA has also suspended flights to affected countries.
The EACCC acknowledged the need to take into account indirect routings via other airports in Africa (ex: CMN or TUN) to better assess possible traffic flows from affected countries and European airports receiving passenger traffic from these countries.
- The EACCC confirmed its availability to assist and facilitate the work of the HSC & WHO for any aviation related impact.
- Most of the discussion focused on procedures for identifying and keeping track of potentially infected passengers – in particular through the Passenger Locator Form (PLF) which airlines distribute to passengers upon request of competent public authorities, and which are collected upon arrival at the airport. IATA confirmed that airport operators have no specific role to lay in relation to PLF procedures (PLF are collected by airlines and handed over directly by them to the competent authorities).
- The EACCC will hold another call on 8 August, following further monitoring by WHO and the EU HSC.
While no specific follow-up action is required from European airports at this stage, ACI EUROPE recommends to all its member airports (especially those with direct flights from affected countries or indirect flows via connecting airports in Africa) to monitor the evolution of the situation and coordinate actions with concerned air carriers as well as health authorities at local/regional/national levels.
In this regard:
- We would like to point to airport operator’s role and duties as per the International Health Regulation (2005):
- More information about the current outbreak can be found at:
- European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC):
- Second Risk Assessment on the Ebola Virus Outbreak in Guinea West Africa: http://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/publications/Publications/ebola-risk-assessment-virus-Guinea-Liberia-Sierra-Leone.pdf
- Guidelines for infectious diseases transmitted on aircraft: http://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/publications/publications/0906_ter_risk_assessment_guidelines_for_infectious_diseases_transmitted_on_aircraft.pdf
- World Health Organisation (WHO):
- 27 July 2014 Ebola virus disease, West Africa UPDATE
- Frequently asked questions on Ebola virus disease (updated 8 July 2014)
- Fact sheet on Ebola virus disease (Essential information on disease, transmission, prevention)
- Advice for travellers (Information for travelers on risk, precautions and symptoms, including Recommendations for international air transport)
- Ebola virus disease: background and summary
Finally, possibly more than the spread of the virus itself, the possibility of negative press coverage concerning airports as international gateways is a real possibility for now. ACI EUROPE has been monitoring the press coverage and liaising with communicators at airports with direct connections to the countries currently affected - with a view to facilitating information exchange and ensuring consistent information/messages for any press calls. If you feel that your communications department needs to get involved in this exchange, please contact our Director for Communications & Media (email@example.com).
I remain at your disposal for any further information and will keep you updated of any development impacting European airports.
Very best regards,
ACI EUROPE (Airports Council International)
10, rue Montoyer, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
Tel. +32 2 552 09 72 Fax. +32 2 513 26 42