Plane NYC
Whilst not 100% confirmed just yet, it is likely that the majority of Australian state and territory borders will reopen before the close of July. 

The end of domestic travel restrictions means that businesses can get back to visiting customers and colleagues interstate, and our people can finally take a long overdue holiday somewhere a little more exotic than their own backyard.

For our airlines, the lifting of domestic travel bans means they can resume operating more services on their scheduled routes, making a start down the very long road to economic recovery. However, we will only see the number of flights on offer increase dramatically once the demand from consumers recovers, and that will only happen when we all feel safe enough to board a plane.

Last week, we polled our followers on LinkedIn to see if they would feel safe jumping on a plane within the next month. A solid 76% of respondents said YES they’d feel comfortable travelling by air very soon - reassuring news for airline stakeholders, no doubt.  But that did leave us wondering what the other 24% might need to feel comfortable before they are willing to fly.

So, what might it take to get people travelling again?

First on the wishlist would obviously be eradication of the Coronavirus worldwide, closely followed by a widely available vaccine. But given that even a vaccine is unlikely to appear until 2021 at the earliest, if you want to get somewhere by plane in the next 6 - 12 months, you’ll do so with some degree of risk. 

Luckily for us in Australia, this risk is still minimal due to the minor number of active cases at present. Additionally, there is evidence to suggest that risk of COVID19 transmission in-flight is extremely low, with airline governing body IATA (the International Air Transport Association) citing the following 4 reasons:

  1. Passengers face forward with limited face-to-face interactions
  2. Seats provide a barrier to transmission forward to aft in the cabin
  3. Air flow from ceiling to floor further reduces the potential for transmission forward or aft in the cabin, moreover, air flow rates are high and not conducive to droplet spread in the same way as in other indoor environments
  4. High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters on modern aircraft clean cabin air to operating theatre quality, further assisted by high levels of fresh air circulation

To help ease the minds of wary travellers, we have highlighted some of the other measures being taken to reduce the risk of transmission through contact, by airlines, airports and passengers, throughout the end to end experience.

man watching plane
  • Online check at home
  • Digital in-App boarding cards
  • Self service bag drop
  • Self serve check in kiosks 
  • Hygiene screens at airline customer service desks
  • Social distancing being applied and promoted throughout terminals
  • Hand sanitiser available throughout
  • Frequent cleaning of high traffic areas
  • Most airline lounges remain closed
  • Cash may not be accepted due to high risk of contamination
  • Some airports may also conduct their own preflight health screenings
  • Social distancing when boarding and disembarking to minimise crowding
  • Self scanning of boarding passes encouraged to minimise contact
  • Hygiene screens at airline customer service desks
  • Social distanced seating in waiting areas at departure gates
  • Passengers encouraged to bring their own masks, and mandatory on some airlines (such as REX)
  • Constant air-filtration and circulation, to remove 99.9% of all particles including viruses
  • Modified inflight catering to minimise touchpoints for crew and customers - passengers encouraged to bring their own food and drink
  • Enhanced cleaning of aircraft with a disinfectant effective against Coronaviruses, with a focus on high contact areas – seats, seatbelts, overhead lockers, air vents and toilets
  • Passengers asked to limit movement around the cabin, once seated
  • Removal of inflight magazines and entertainment systems, to reduce potential contamination, with digital magazines and entertainment apps on personal devices offered instead in some cases

Please note: these measures may vary depending on airport facilities and individual airline policies. To check availability before your next trip contact your local airline and specific carrier for details. We’ve shared links to the major airlines hygiene policies below.

Virgin Australia: https://travel.virginaustralia.com/au/coronavirus-update/health-wellbeing

Qantas: https://www.qantas.com/au/en/travel-info/travel-updates/coronavirus/health-while-flying.html

Jetstar: https://www.jetstar.com/au/en/fly-well

REX: http://www.rex.com.au/Coronavirus/

Tiger: https://tigerair.com.au/information-coronavirus

We know it will take some time to restore traveller confidence in the post-COVID landscape, and perhaps it will take more than increased hygiene practices to entice cautious travellers back to the skies.
We’d love to hear what it will take to get you travelling again. Tell us what you think by tagging Flight Centre Business Travel - Australia on LinkedIn.

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