Every airline is stepping up precautionary measures as the coronavirus continues to impact the world. Many carriers have temporarily cut flights or suspended routes to heavily affected regions due to a decrease in demand. Airlines are also adopting new measures to help curb the spread of the virus. They’re limiting in-flight services, disinfecting aircraft, wearing face masks, and even conducting temperature checks before allowing passengers to board.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) Guidelines
The IATA published a list of guidelines airlines should follow to protect passengers and crew. The guidelines are not mandatory, but many airlines are following the recommendations. Guidelines include screening passengers for fever, equipping cabin crews with masks, and routinely disinfecting aircraft. A number of airlines said they are disinfecting aircraft and lounges multiple times throughout the day.
Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific said it’s regularly disinfecting cabins, seats, galleys, and washrooms. Passengers traveling to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific get inflight updated health message broadcasts to ensure passengers and crew have the latest information. The carrier has also reduced flights to and from mainland China by 90 percent until the end of March 2020. The airline has also installed HEPA aircraft filtration systems that can filter 99.999 percent of dust particles and airborne contaminants like viruses and bacteria.
Singapore Airlines (SIA) is using a “strong disinfectant” to clean all surfaces on aircraft flying to Hong Kong and mainland China. Aircraft arriving from China go through a deep cleaning measure known as fogging. The fogging procedure takes about 90 minutes for an A380 aircraft, and 60 minutes for all other types of aircraft.
American Airlines said it is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). All tableware, dishes, cutlery, and glassware are being sanitized and disinfected before washing. All unused inbound supplies are being discarded. Inbound linen and headphones are being sanitized separately. The airline said its aircraft are cleaned each day at “key touchpoints on the journeys” with EPA-approved disinfectant.
As of March 23rd, American Airlines has halted 75% of international flights through May 6.
Korean Air has formed an emergency response team to deal with the virus. The company said it has strengthened disinfection since January 30 for planes that have flown on routes to China. The airline says it sterilizes planes arriving from large cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Qingdao. Comfort items like blankets and pillows are not provided on routes to China.
Airlines are doing their best to step up and provide a safe space for travelers. The airline industry is just one of the many industries being severely impacted by COVID-19. If you need to travel this spring, you still have options for now, although limited. Many believe in the coming weeks the economy will slowly start to open up again and with it the airline industries. Plenty of people who have been in quarantine will be ready to travel this summer and airlines will be as busy as ever before.
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