We would like to ensure that you are still receiving content that you find useful – please confirm that you would like to continue to receive ILO newsletters.
20 January 2021
Since the World Health Organisation declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on 11 March 2020, governments worldwide have made significant efforts to cope with this unforeseen situation and control the spread of the virus. Numerous legal provisions, both temporary and permanent, have been introduced in an attempt to strike a delicate balance between public health and safety, individual freedoms and economic stability. As a result, a complex maze of laws, regulations, directives, recommendations and instructions has made it difficult to identify the obligations of air passengers.
This article is the second in a series which provides a snapshot of new Spanish legislation that affects the air travel industry.(1) At the time of writing, the pandemic is far from under control, although substantial progress has been made with the approval of rapid detection tests and the imminent deployment of vaccines. Nonetheless, many of the measures passed by governments in recent months appear to be here to stay, so this series may also provide a glimpse of the new normal insofar as aviation legislation is concerned.
Although the European Commission has no authority to impose safety measures on member states, in May 2020 it presented a package of guidelines and recommendations to help them to gradually lift travel restrictions and allow tourism to reopen (its package on how to safely resume travel). This first package included the following documents:
In June 2020, when the Spanish tourism season was expected to finally begin, Royal Decree-Law 21/2020 dictated a series of general measures relating to health and safety in the workplace and public places. From an air travel perspective, it required all persons over the age of six to wear a facemask when using any means of transport (including aircraft), with some exceptions for people with special circumstances. It also required airport operator AENA to provide the required personnel and means of support to the Spanish health authorities to ensure that adequate controls are made on the arrival of international flights.
On 7 July 2020 Royal Decree-Law 26/2020 introduced some more detailed provisions in connection with air travel:
Two days later, the AESA resolution of 9 July 2020 elaborated in some detail on Royal Decree-Law 26/2020 and dictated the operational directives for the management of air passengers and aviation personnel. The detailed operational directives, which are mandatory as of 18 July 2020, were published as Annex I. All airport operators and airlines, among others, were requested to send a declaration of compliance with such directives by 28 July 2020. Since then, these initial operational directives have been updated by AESA resolutions of 20 November 2020 and 17 December 2020. The Spanish Air Transport Facilitation Committee can issue modifications to the directives in view of the developing pandemic.
Notably, the Spanish aviation authorities have no exclusivity as regards the approval of health and safety provisions. Pursuant to Royal Decree-Law 23/2020, and without prejudice to any other measures adopted in accordance with EASA and ECDC directives, the Health Ministry is empowered to dictate sanitary control measures applicable to passengers arriving in Spain by air, including temperature controls, document reviews and visual controls. Under this piece of legislation, all passengers must submit a public health form and all enterprises involved in the transport industry (eg, travel agencies, airlines and tourism operators) must inform passengers accordingly. If, while the sanitary controls are in place, a passenger is thought to be suffering from COVID-19 or another disease which may affect public health, a medical evaluation must take place. Should the passenger test positive, the protocols for transporting them to a medical centre will be activated.
For further information on this topic please contact Sergi Giménez Binder at Augusta Abogados by telephone (+34 933 621 620) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). The Augusta Abogados website can be accessed at www.augustaabogados.com.
(1) For the first article in the series please see "The new normal? COVID-19 legislation: subsidies, consumer protection and air transport".
The materials contained on this website are for general information purposes only and are subject to the disclaimer.
ILO is a premium online legal update service for major companies and law firms worldwide. In-house corporate counsel and other users of legal services, as well as law firm partners, qualify for a free subscription.