CORONAVIRUS : SHOULD WE BE AFRAID TO FLY AGAIN?
To limit the risk of coronavirus contamination on airplanes, airlines and airports are deploying major resources. From the journey on the ground to the disinfection of the cabin, we take stock of these safety measures, which could well enable us to return to the airplane without anxiety, as early as summer 2020.
Coronavirus on the airplane: where do we stand?
The coronavirus continues to impact the airline industry. The main challenge for airlines at the end of the year will be to reassure passengers who are reluctant to book flights for fear of contamination.
It is true that unlike phobias about flying, the fear of coronavirus during an air trip is based on concrete facts. In absolute terms, in restricted space, the risks of contamination are increased, which discourages many potential travelers. But in practice, air travel is changing. With the efforts of airlines and airports, they are bringing many new health guarantees. This is reason enough to consider flying again as early as 2020, assessing the risks involved as accurately as possible.
Anti-covid measures on the plane (during flight)
In anticipation of a gradual upturn in flights, airlines have already implemented a whole series of measures to limit the risk of contamination on board. Most of these measures are imposed by the state and are common to all airlines. This is the case of the wearing of masks in the cabin, made mandatory by the decree of May 31, 2020. This same decree requires all passengers to present a declaration on their honor that they do not present symptoms of covid-19.
Cabin disinfection and air filtering
Companies are also obliged to methodically disinfect the cabins by hand. To do this, they spray a registered virucidal product every day.
What about the air in the cabin? It is often presented as a cause for concern. On the contrary, in the context of relaxation of the lockdown, the air in aircraft cabins is particularly healthy. It is filtered and renewed every 3 minutes by means of HEPA filters. Offering filtration equivalent to that of an operation room, these filters are capable of blocking covid particles by up to 99.99%.
In-flight, airlines are now ensuring that points of contact with flight personnel and objects are kept to a minimum. On long journeys, meals will be prepared in advance according to strict sanitary standards, without any handling by the flight crew.
Ground measures: signposted route and boarding
Airports are doing the same: all of them have put in place strict measures to ensure compliance with barrier gestures throughout the boarding and arrival process.
In the airport, the terminal will be accessible only for passengers. In addition to having a face mask on, hand sanitizing gel is available at all stages of the trip.The companies have implemented increased cleaning and disinfection of the areas, particularly at the points of contact (check-in, security checks, boarding lounge, etc.).
At each stage, floor markings and signage are used to respect social distancing. The counters are equipped with Plexiglas windows to avoid customer/staff contamination on the floor.
Another strong measure of the decree of May 31, 2020 concerning air transport during the covid period: all companies will have to control the temperature of passengers on boarding. In case of refusal to submit to the control or in case of fever, the passenger will not be able to board.
From now on, boarding will be done from the rear, in a progressive way, to avoid crossings.
When will we be able to fly again?
Thanks to these anti-coronavirus measures for aircraft, the sector anticipates a timid recovery in activity as of this summer.
Flight restrictions between countries are also coming down: IATA (International Air Transport Association) offers an updated map of restrictions for each country, available here.