An aviation industry-developed Domestic Passenger Journey Protocol has been published to provide guidance for domestic travel.

The Protocol has been designed to provide guidance for industry members and give confidence to the travelling public as domestic air travel increases with the reduction in COVID-19 related restrictions on travel.

The measures set out in the Protocol, informed by health advice provided by Australian authorities, are intended to minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19 for domestic airline passengers and workers, as well as guidance promulgated by international aviation authorities such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The Protocol has been considered and is supported by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, which is made up of state and territory Chief Health Officers and chaired by the Australian Government’s Chief Medical Officer.

Australian Airports Association (AAA) Chief Executive, James Goodwin, said, “The managed resumption of some domestic travel has already commenced safely, and this protocol will help build consumer confidence to resume flying again in greater numbers.

“These measures will be critical, not only for rebuilding traveller confidence, but as aviation plays a key role in driving Australia’s economic recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Airlines for Australia and New Zealand (A4ANZ) CEO, Dr Alison Roberts, said, “The protocol has been guided by a set of shared principles, with the health and safety of our passengers and staff paramount. It adopts an evidence-based, layered approach to risk reduction at each stage of the journey.

“While there are still restrictions in place on domestic travel, we wanted to ensure that as an industry we were ready to get more people safely back in the air again, as soon the restrictions begin to ease.” 

While state governments strive for consistency, there may be some variations in the implementation of the Protocol in different circumstances due to the different COVID-related measures applied in different states and territories, as well as differences in relevant regulations and legislation.

The Domestic Passenger Journey Protocol complements existing regulatory frameworks (covering issues such as security, disability access, and work health and safety), and recognises industry needs to implement the Protocol consistent with these frameworks which remain enforceable by the relevant regulators.

The Federal Department of Infrastructure said that, while the Protocol is robust, like all COVID-19 measures, it will only work when the measures are used. Success in preventing the spread of COVID-19 through domestic air travel will rely on all parties, including passengers, playing their part in minimising risk by adhering to the measures.

Ways in which passengers must also do their part include: 

  • Not flying if feeling unwell 
  • Downloading the COVID-Safe app 
  • Providing contact details 
  • Checking in online and using digital boarding passes 
  • Adopting hygiene measures such as frequent handwashing 

The Protocol is informed by health advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC). The protocol and further information can be found on the Department of Infrastructure, AAA and A4ANZ websites. 

As part of this approach, the Australian Government encourages all Australians to download the COVIDSafe app to help stop the spread and keep ourselves and each other healthy.The Protocol is subject to regular review and may change as circumstances change.

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