IMO says new ICAO guidance could alleviate crew crisis

Malcolm Latarche

Malcolm Latarche · 01 October 2020


Passenger and repatriation flights are essential to allow stranded seafarers to go home, and for their relief crews to be able to join ships. New guidance issued by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to facilitate those flights marks a further step to alleviate the ongoing crew change crisis.

The guidance outlines specific recommendations for seafarer changeover flights, including the need for advanced bilateral communication, coordination and planning between shipowners, aviation stakeholders and the relevant authorities. It also highlights the importance of seafarers and requests States to grant rapid authorisation for the entry, departure and transit of aircraft, including seafarer changeover flights.

Ship plane

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim expressed his confidence that this new contribution by the United Nations will have a positive impact on the crew change crisis. It is estimated that 400,000 seafarers are still trapped at sea, due to restrictions imposed by Governments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The guidance is contained in ICAO Circular Letter 4204/Add.32. It will be reviewed and updated as necessary by ICAO as the global situation evolves.

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