By Laura Kemp •
Published: 06 May 2020 • 15:20
FACED with the new social environment fashioned by the coronavirus crisis, airlines have accepted the need to enforce the use of face masks, however, they refuse to leave any seats empty on their flights. This is what the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has reinforced via a statement.
The IATA, which encompasses some of the most popular airlines in the world, is in favour of enforcing the mandatory use of masks between passengers and crew during flights but it rejects the imposition of a security distance which would force them to leave some seats unoccupied.
The airlines argues that the widespread use of face masks is sufficient to reduce the risk of transmitting the disease, which is “already low,” and that they will avoid taking other additional measures which are currently under consideration, such as leaving an empty seat between two passengers.
“We must come up with a solution that gives passengers confidence when flying, but that also keeps the cost of doing flying at affordable prices,” says the CEO of IATA, Alexandre de Juniac.
The industry association ensures that applying this measure to lower the risk and keep certain seats empty on flights could reduce passenger capacity to 62 per cent. They argue that this makes flying unfeasible, as the capacity currently required by the industry to be profitable is 77 per cent.
“With fewer seats to occupy, costs would go up significantly, and compared to prices in 2019, air fares would have to rise dramatically, between 43 per cent and 54 per cent depending on the region, just to cover costs,” warned the official statement.
In addition to making the use of masks mandatory, IATA suggests other prevention measures that include: taking the temperature of passengers and crew members, procedures for entering and leaving the plane which reduce contact between people, and a greater limitation of movements in the cabin during the flight.
It also advocates frequent cleaning of the cabin, and a simplification of food service to limit crew movement and interaction with passengers.
Finally, the IATA stresses that the use of ‘immunity passports’ (which some governments have considered issuing to those citizens who have already recovered from Covid-19) could be included as a prevention measure, however this is contingent on whether these documents prove effective in reducing infections and become used on a larger scale.
KLM resumes its routes to Spain: under what measures?
The Dutch airline KLM has begun to “gradually and prudently” re-establish its European network, resuming daily flights to eight destinations that had previously been suspended as a result of the coronavirus, Madrid and Barcelona amongst them. Routes to Spain will be made on board an aircraft that has capacity for 100 passengers.
In addition, starting from May 11, the use of masks will be mandatory on all KLM network flights, both on board and during the boarding process, which passengers will be responsible for having the correct equipment. This mandatory measure to wear masks will last until August 31.
As for the other prevention measures, the airline will try to establish the maximum possible space between passengers, leaving seats free if they have not been booked, it has simplified the catering service on board and will disinfect all the planes regularly. It is also conducting a questionnaire for passengers leaving high-risk destinations, and some passengers may be denied boarding according to the criteria of the Dutch government.
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Originally from UK, Laura is based in Axarquia and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features.
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