Zika Virus and Business Aviation: Considerations for International Operators
Active transmission of Zika virus is a factor in certain countries and territories as noted on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) site. It’s important for international business aircraft operators to be aware of and mitigate Zika risks as well as to comply with aircraft disinfection mandates in place at various international locations.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Zika virus update
Since Zika outbreak reports began circulating earlier this year, certain countries have put specific screening requirements in place, ranging from observing crew and passengers on arrival to full blown residual disinsection of general aviation (GA) aircraft. At this time, special disinsection mandates are only a factor in Italy, while in China and Costa Rica–at Liberia (MRLB) only–you have other less stringent requirements. In the case of Costa Rica and China, health declarations are also required upon international arrival. Health authorities at all the above locations work closely with airport authorities to enforce the Zika procedures. Countries with existing top of descent disinsection mandates in place, including Australia, New Zealand and the Galapagos Islands, have not yet added additional procedures or disinsection requirements for the Zika virus.
2. Complying with requirements
Complying with new Zika prevention measures varies country by country. These mandated procedures range from about five minutes in Costa Rica to about two-and-a-half hours in Italy.
3. Operator non-compliance
We’ve not received any notices of fines or penalties for non-compliance with new Zika virus disinsection mandates at any of these locations. Countries requiring additional measures to combat the spread of Zika have, in most cases been providing the needed resources upon arrival.
4. Requirements for Italy
Officially, Italy requires residual disinsection of all aircraft for all international arrivals. If appropriate disinsection services are available at the Italian airport you land at, the disinsection spraying process will take 15-20 minutes after crew and passengers have exited the aircraft, the cabin will be closed for one hour, and an additional hour is needed to air out the aircraft. This works out to about two-and-a-half hours, and crew must remain at the airport until the procedure is completed and a receipt issued. If these services are unavailable at smaller Italian airports of entry (AOEs), health officials will observe passengers and crew upon arrival, and you’ll not be permitted to operate to another Italian airport without first flying to a location where residual disinsection services, meeting full ICAO standards, are available. However, we have found that for these airports that don’t offer this service yet, airport authorities won’t come out to the aircraft, and if they do, they will provide you with a document that states that you should get this completed at your next stop. Upon completion of residual disinsection you’ll be provided with a receipt (cost of approximately 150 Euros) which authorizes you to travel to all Italian airports until your actual certificate is issued. The actual certificate is issued within two to three business days and remains valid for eight weeks.
5. Regulatory revisions for Italy
The Italian Ente Nazionale Per L’Aviazione Civile (ENAC), also known as the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), is scheduled to meet with Italian health authorities to explore the possibility of revising the current disinsection policy to apply only to aircraft arriving from active Zika virus locations. At this time, Italian residual disinsection procedures for GA are much more rigorous than anywhere else in the world.
6. Requirements for China
For an international arrival to China, cabin doors of GA aircraft must remain closed until a quarantine officer arrives. Anyone onboard who is experiencing flu-like symptoms such as such as fever, cough, dyspnea, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, muscle pains, joint pains, rash, etc. should advise the quarantine office as soon as possible. Prior permission is required to bring in human tissue, biological products, blood, and blood products. These procedures apply only to flights arriving from:
Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Paraguay, Barbados, Bolivia, Martinique, French Guiana, Haiti, Surinam, Ecuador, Guyana, Panama, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Curacao, Dominica, Guadeloupe, U.S. Virgin Islands, Costa Rica, Cape Verde, Samoan, the Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Fiji, Vanuatu, Maldives, Thailand and Indonesia.
7. Requirements for Costa Rica
Special Zika virus procedures for Costa Rica are currently only in place for MRLB and only impact arrivals from areas with active Zika virus transmission. Upon landing, luggage compartments will be sprayed with insecticide, while crew/passengers remain onboard, and the cabin will be sprayed after crew/passengers disembark. A fee of 25 USD is payable (covering the spray and the certificate), and crew/passengers must fill in and sign health declaration forms. Note that these procedures are only applicable to flights arriving from countries identified by CDC’s website as having active Zika virus transmission.
8. Additional information on approved insecticides
More information on the Zika virus risks can be found at on the World Health Organization site. Current list of countries with active Zika virus transmission can be found on the CDC website. Note that approved insecticides are not readily available for purchase within the U.S. due to Environment Protection Agency (EPA) regulations. Most international locations requiring disinsection measures to control the Zika virus make these insecticides available to operators upon arrival.
9. Zika virus update for Brazil
Brazil is following WHO advice in combating the proliferation of mosquitoes in Rio de Janeiro and adjoining coastal areas. Although the Zika virus outbreak is considered a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern,” the Olympic Games will take place during the Southern hemisphere’s winter when proliferation of mosquitoes is less intense. The most significant outbreak risk for the Rio de Janeiro area is expected to be in the December-January summer period.
For more on planning for the 2016 Brazil Summer Games, visit our online resource center.
10. Risk mitigation advice from World Health Organization (WHO):
“The best protection from Zika virus is preventing mosquito bites. Preventing mosquito bites will protect people from Zika virus, as well as other diseases that are transmitted by mosquitoes such as dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.
This can be done by using insect repellent; wearing clothes (preferably light-colored) that cover as much of the body as possible; using physical barriers such as screens, closed doors and windows; and sleeping under mosquito nets. It is also important to empty, clean or cover containers that can hold even small amounts of water such as buckets, flower pots or tires, so that places where mosquitoes can breed are removed.”
Before traveling internationally, GA operators should verify the latest Zika virus risk areas, along with related disinsection requirements, with either your 3rd-party provider or ground handler. Read the CDC website for additional Zika information and the latest updates on locations where this virus is being actively transmitted.
If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.