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05 July 2022

Opinion from Adrian Leopard & Co

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Aviation starts to be innovative
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Aviation starts to be innovative

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It’s good that there is some positivity around during these troubled times

In order to try to allay the fear of air travel which a lot of people seem to have at the moment, a few innovations are emerging.

United Airlines is trying a new technique to keep passengers safe and reduce the spread of coronavirus. Starting now, they will maximise air flow volume in their aircraft during boarding and deplanement. What this means in English is that they will use their air ventilation systems at full power in all aircraft with high-efficiency particulate air filtration systems at times when they would otherwise be running at a low level or not at all, that is getting on and getting off. United say that their systems could replace the entire cabin air in about three minutes removing 99.97% of air particles.

As you may have read in one of our earlier news reports, these systems are remarkably efficient at removing even very small particles. United claim that the air in their aircraft “could be cleaner than restaurants, grocery stores, schools or even some hospitals”. There is already a strict policy on the wearing of face masks and along with their regular disinfecting policies they say this should be a major step in preventing the spread of Covid-19 in aircraft. Needless to say the quid pro quo is that they still intend to fill the middle seats. Will all the high tech be enough to compensate for that?

In the meanwhile London Heathrow plans to offer on-site Covid-19 testing via their “Test-on-Arrival” service which should provide a result in hours instead of days, thereby reducing quarantine time. Initially this would apply to passengers arriving at Terminal 2 and they would have to apply on line in advance. Passengers will then depart to their quarantine address where they would have to self-quarantine for 24 hours allowing time for the results to come through.

The government has yet to approve the scheme but the participators are in the meanwhile forging ahead to offer the plans to other airports. We await further information with interest.

In a different way, Minneapolis St Paul International Airport is offering Covid-19 care kits. Passengers transiting through the airport can request a kit which comes free and contains five face masks, a bottle of hand sanitiser and a card with helpful tips for when travelling. The idea is to help flyers to “travel confidently”. Will it help?

In a very unusual move, Icelandair is firing all of their flight attendants and replacing them with pilots on a temporary basis. This unusual move is actually not as a result of Covid-19 but following on an-going employment dispute dating back over a year. They have not actually said it but it may be quite a shrewd move because sacking pilots might not be terribly clever at a time when there are fewer flights because getting them back later could be quite difficult if they have been fired in the interim. Look on the bright side – if the pilots get food-poisoning they will have back up!

All of these things go to prove that the aviation industry is trying to find ways to make passengers feel safe and encourage them back to travelling by air. I have no doubt that we shall hear of many more instances of “specials” being implemented to attempt to woo the public back. Aviation is such an important industry and the employment it provides goes much further than just those who work for the airlines themselves.

And finally the Bahamas have closed their borders to US passengers, private flights and charters including ships. Happily this does not apply to anyone else at the moment and you can enter provided you present a negative Covid-19 RT PCR test completed by an accredited laboratory dated within ten days of arrival. Arrivals from UK and Europe can still visit with this proviso.

By the way if you are going abroad, make sure you have a valid passport before you book as getting these is proving a slow business at the moment. Also you cannot use the fast-track system as this involves a face to face meeting which is just not happening. In Europe as long as your passport is valid you are okay but some countries will require a six month validity from the date of your return trip so now may be a good idea to check your passport expiry date.

Adrian Leopard 21-07-20

Photo Ethan Wilkinson

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