IATA has publicly slammed calls for social distancing measures on aircraft, commenting that it could see airfares double. Instead, the industry body believes masks would be a better alternative.
IATA believes face coverings for passengers and masks for the crew will be a critical part of a layered approach to biosecurity to be implemented temporarily when people return to travelling by air.
“IATA does not support mandating social distancing measures that would leave ‘middle seats’ empty,” the association said.
IATA said that even though the evidence suggests that the risk of transmission onboard aircraft is low, mask-wearing by passengers and crew will reduce the already low risk while avoiding the dramatic cost increases to air travel that onboard social distancing measures would bring.
“The safety of passengers and crew is paramount. The aviation industry is working with governments to re-start flying when this can be done safely,” Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO said.
“We must arrive at a solution that gives passengers the confidence to fly and keeps the cost of flying affordable. One without the other will have no lasting
Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
In addition to face coverings, other suggestions for the safe return of flying include:
- Temperature screening of passengers, airport workers and travellers,
- Boarding and deplaning processes that reduce contact with other passengers or crew,
- Limiting movement within the cabin during flight,
- More frequent and deeper cabin cleaning; and
- Simplified catering procedures that lower crew movement and interaction with passengers.
“Airlines are fighting for their survival. Eliminating the middle seat will raise costs,” Alexandre de Juniac said.
“If that can be offset that with higher fares, the era of affordable travel will come to an end. On the other hand, if airlines can’t recoup the costs in higher fares, airlines will go bust. Neither is a good option when the world will need strong connectivity to help kick-start the recovery from COVID-19’s economic devastation”.
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