The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared COVID-19 a pandemic (an infectious disease outbreak that spreads on a global scale). While the majority of confirmed cases have been in mainland China, where this outbreak originated in Wuhan (Hubei province), there are reported cases in many other countries and regions, including large numbers of cases in Italy, Iran and the Republic of Korea.
Cases of COVID-19 have also been confirmed in Australia and the situation is changing rapidly. The Government's Smart Traveller service is advising all Australians - regardless of destination, age or health - to reconsider the need for overseas travel at this time.
The Australian Government now further requires all those travelling or returning to Australia to self-isolate for 14 days. This applies to all travellers, including Australian citizens (but there are certain exemptions).
The Australian Government's Department of Health is maintaining an updated collection of resources for the general public and industry.
In particular, pilots should familarise themselves with:
Pilots and airline crew on active duty are exempt from the 14-day isolation, but only if the requirements outlined in this Government information sheet (above) are strictly adhered to.
If pilots have travelled internationally in the last two months, they should also check the IATA Travel News page.
In response to these government-mandated travel restrictions and significant falls in travel demand, some operators have announced severe reductions in the domestic and international flying schedules from the end of March 2020.
The Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) is encouraging airline operators to work together with pilots to find appropriate solutions to the pandemic’s impact on airlines and pilots.
This is being done through your relevant pilot councils being in regular consultation with airline management to explore Leave Acquittal, Leave Without Pay and other measures in order to retain as many pilot jobs as possible.
With respect to our own activities and capabilities, the situation is evolving rapidly as we monitor and adhere to the latest local response guidelines.
This has now required all of our members meetings and events for March and April to be postponed. Essential meetings between pilot representatives and AFAP industrial staff will continue to be conducted with small numbers meeting in person and/or videoconferencing.
As a reminder, AFAP’s pilot welfare services - including confidential counselling through the Member Assistance Program (1300 307 912) and Accident/Incident assistance via the 24/7 Emergency Hotline (0459 747 757) - are freely available to all AFAP members.
For industrial advice or general membership enquiries, please contact Member Services during office hours on 03 9928 5737.
(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)