easyJet CEO affirmed he would feel 100% safe on full planes
EasyJet’s first flight in 11 weeks took off on Monday morning, boosting the airline’s hopes for survival but leaving some passengers concerned at a lack of physical distancing at 35,000 feet. The airline, which is cutting 4,500 jobs and has borrowed £600m from the government’s emergency coronavirus fund, returned to the skies with a flight from London Gatwick to Glasgow. The carrier will operate just over 300 flights this week, mainly domestic departures from eight UK airports, and a total of 22 within the EU. The total represents a fraction of its previous schedules before coronavirus grounded most flying in late March, The Guardian reported.
The boss of EasyJet has said he would feel “100% safe” flying on full planes. Johan Lundgren told the PA news agency the airline had followed international guidelines to step up hygiene ahead of a resumption of services on Monday. Passengers and crew will wear masks and planes will be deep-cleaned often. But passengers will not have to sit 2m apart, despite calls for middle seats to remain empty for social distancing. “That was a proposal early on from one of the regulators,” Mr Lundgren told the BBC’s Today programme. “But the recommendations that have come out from international authorities… which are also supported by the different local regulators do not include social distancing measures on board the aircraft,” BBC wrote.
Face masks must be worn at all time on board unless there is a loss of cabin pressure, and no more than two people can queue for the toilet at one time. Ryanair is stricter: the Irish airline insists everyone remains seated unless a member of cabin crew gives permission to use the loo. On post-lockdown easyJet, there is no inflight catering, though drinking water is available on board, according to The Independent.
Dr Michael Fonso, EasyJet’s chief medical adviser, said: “Social distancing is simply not practical on a plane.” According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the risks of spreading coronavirus on an aircraft are low, Fonso said. “It’s all about layered measures,” he said. “Because you are not facing each other, it’s safer. The vertical airflow on the plane reduces the risk, The Guardian wrote.
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