Published on : Tuesday, May 19, 2020
The Qantas Group recently announced new safety measures that would be undertaken in flights after the COVID-19 pandemic. The airline would be implementing the rules alongside its subsidiary JetStar. The latest safety protocols would include sequenced boarding, enhanced cleaning, and reduced in-flight services. However, contrary to the latest noticeable trend in the aviation sector, the company would make usage of face masks mandatory for passengers. It will also refrain from compromising the capacity of its aircraft.
Alan Joyce, Chief Executive, Qantas Airways said in a recent press statement that the airline would not resort to social distancing flying options as it would not be financially viable for the company. He mentioned that around 50% airfares would be lost if the middle seat remains unavailable for booking, whereas, leaving the middle seat empty only allows for a 60 centimeters distance between passengers. He expressed that the recommended 1.5 meters of distance between individuals would allow typical narrow-body aircraft to fly only 22 passengers.
On the other hand, Ian Hosegood, Medical Director, Qantas Airways added that he does not believe the mandatory requirement of using face masks on a flight. He mentioned that even during the highest point of coronavirus outbreak while people took the skies with COVID-19 infections, there has been no reported case of in-flight transmission of the coronavirus disease.
However, Qantas has mentioned that both the airline and its low-cost subsidiary Jetstar will distribute masks and encourage passengers to wear them. Passengers would also be boarded in sequences and online check-in would be largely encouraged. Travelers would also be provided with sanitizing wipes onboard. The airline will also simplify in-flight services to keep contact between passengers and crew to a minimum and will urge passengers to refrain from moving around the cabin frequently.
The airline is of the opinion that hospital-grade HEPA filters, high headrests blocking transmission, and arranging the seats to face in the same director would be enough to keep its passengers safe. The Transport Workers Union (TWU) has criticised the safety measures undertaken by the airline and has urged to organise a national plan to be instigated by the government.