April 23rd 2020

The International Chamber of Shipping and the International Air Transport Association are asking countries to take urgent action to facilitate crew change flights for the world’s mariners.

Specifically, the ICS and IATA are calling on governments to designate a specific number of crew change airports to help enable the safe movement and repatriation of crew.

Worldwide, about 100,000 mariners travel each month as part of the crew change process, according to the ICS.

But the pandemic has resulted in some being stranded aboard ship—seemingly indefinitely–because government-imposed travel restrictions have made it nearly impossible for them to get home.

Experts agree that being stuck on a ship without the prospect of relief can cause serious mental health and safety issues.

“Seafarers are unsung heroes who every day throughout this Covid-19 crisis are going above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that countries are kept supplied with the goods they need,” said ICS Secretary General Guy Platten.

“We now need governments to support our seafarers and facilitate safe passage for them to get home to loved ones and be replaced by crew members ready to keep supply chains open.”

The ICS and IATA say that designated crew change airports should be close to major shipping lanes and have direct air connections to principal seafarer countries of residence, such as China, India and the Philippines, as well as western and eastern Europe.

“If governments identify airports that seafarers can use for crew change and make appropriate adjustments to health and immigration protocols, airlines can help keep global logistics moving,” said IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac.

This story was first reported by Mike Schuler in the April 16 edition of the maritime publication gCaptain (