Edmonton International Airport's main terminal and control tower from 1000' above. | Photo: © Liam Funnell (IG: @downwindaviation_)

MIAMIToday the Government of Canada released Canada’s Flight Plan for Navigating COVID-19. These guidelines will form the basis for the regulations to reduce COVID-19 risks while traveling by air.

Currently, the Canadian Government still advises against non-essential travel. However, there is an expectation that reopening will start on a wider scale. The changes and regulations affect all parts of travel, spanning from travel restrictions to increased cleaning and addition of touchless check-in.

At the same time, the Government is not aware of any COVID-19 passenger-to-passenger infections which have occurred. However, these changes are in alignment with the ICAO Council Aviation Recovery Taskforce guidelines which were released on May 27, 2020.

Air Canada Boeing 777-300ER taking off from Toronto. | Photo: © Aaron Davis (IG: @threshold.productions)

Airport Changes

Some changes within the airports have already come into effect. There are changes to most steps within the total airport experience, from changes in protocols to changes to the building themselves. Physical distancing is still a primary protection measure. Terminals will be restricted to passengers with same-day travel or boarding passes.

The changes listed in the Flight Plan include increased cleaning and disinfection within the buildings. Beyond that, all passengers and most workers are required to wear face coverings.

Temperature screening will be used for all Crew members, some workers, and all passengers at busy airports. Other health checks such as visual symptom screenings will also be used.

Priority is being made for contactless checkin and boarding processes technologies. If contactless is not possible, then self-sanitizing is also being considered. In areas where contact is sometimes required, such as security screenings, all screening officers will be required to wear gloves.

An emphasis on strategic use of facilities such as baggage claim will be made to allow for further distancing. Some airports have also improved their HVAC systems and added air quality monitoring units. Plexiglass separators will also be added in areas where physical distancing will be difficult.

Line-Up of Aircraft At Calgary (YYC). | Photo: © Calgary International Airport

Aircraft Changes

As both Boeing and Airbus have stated, modern aircraft have HEPA filters within their air conditioning packs, and the air within the aircraft itself is refreshed quickly. Minimal movement by the passengers and the high seat backs is also expected to prevent transmission. The aircraft themselves are sanitized after each flight.

On board the flight, passengers will be required to sit in their assigned seat, however, gate agents will reseat passenger before boarding if possible to improve distancing. On some carriers, middle seats will be unable to be booked, and crew will have assigned jump seats.

Transport Canada advises that airlines limit in-flight services and non-essential tasks. However, they also state that this might not be possible on all flights, so alternatives will be explored.

All passengers and most crew will be required to wear face masks the whole flight.

Universal Precaution Kits (UPK) are already on each aircraft. Operating procedures will be created to advise crews on how to use UPKs in the case of COVID-19.

For Air Cargo flights, paperless documents will be encouraged.

Air Canada Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner at Toronto Pearson. | Photo: © Aaron Davis (IG: @threshold.productions)

ArriveCAN Declarations

The Canada Border Services Agency (CSBA) and the Public Health Agency of Canada have released the ArriveCAN app. This app will reduce waiting times at the border by allowing pre-filing of the coronavirus form.

As well, the CSBA allows at certain airports for passengers to fill out their customs declaration via an eDeclaration app.