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Air traffic controllers are urging governments at all levels to eliminate any job uncertainties or other economic consequences that may result due to coronavirus pandemic.

The International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers Associations, the global body of air traffic controllers, said despite the difficult situation the world had found itself, they would continue to support authorities in defeating the COVID-19 pandemic.

The association said, “It is with great respect that we see air traffic control staff continuing to perform their duties in circumstances none of us has experienced before. Traffic patterns have changed dramatically while sanitation measures have become a daily routine in our workplaces.

“No one knows how long the COVID-19 crisis will go on. It is of course also difficult for IFATCA to predict how and when we return to ‘normal’. For now, saving lives and making sure the outbreaks remain as contained as possible is the absolute priority and that should be the focus of our work.”

IFATCA noted that it remained every state’s obligation to provide air traffic services in their respective airspace, which the association said included making contingency arrangements.

According to the association, the Secretary-General of the International Civil Aviation Organisation has in a letter, reminded states of these commitments when they are reviewing how to cope with this crisis.

The association said priorities that should apply were aircraft in state of emergency, overflights, operations related to humanitarian aid, medical and relief flights, alternate aerodromes including those for extended diversion operations, technical landings where passengers could not disembark, cargo flights and other safety-related operations.

“In that spirit, we call on all air traffic control staff to continue to support your authorities in defeating the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, we appeal to service providers and governments to eliminate any uncertainty for job security, income or other economic consequences for their ATS staff,” the association said.

It added that despite the difficult situation, it believed that professionalism would see the association and its members through the challenge.

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