The green-shoots of recovery for the airline industry may seem a long way off under the current circumstances, but for some operators plans are already in place for post-pandemic operations and flight schedules. Although all will be under a new blanket of restrictions.
It’s clear that your next flight may not be what you’re used to if AirAsia’s new compulsory safety rules are to be adopted by other global operators. According to the airline, the new mandatory passenger safety measures will include wearing of safety masks, which passengers have to provide themselves, and following social distancing practices when boarding and exiting the aircraft. A report in the Malaysian newspaper Malay Mail, revealed these new measures will also apply when passengers are checking in and retrieving their baggage within the terminal.
When asked about the new practices, AirAsia’s Chief Safety Officer, Captain Ling Liong Tien, stated that the new rules will be strictly enforced. He added that passengers will only be allowed one small bag for the cabin, in order to improve social distancing when getting on and off the aircraft. The Air Asia official hopes that this will stop passengers coming into contact with each other when having to deal with their hand luggage.
But AirAsia will also be introducing an additional measure, mandatory temperature checks at its passenger boarding gates and for its cabin staff at the start and end of their shifts.
“Of course, social distancing will need to be observed, so there will be floor markers in high traffic areas, including check-in counters and kiosks.
“Another safety precaution will be alternate check-in counters to ensure sufficient distance, and we are also working to have contactless check-in processes as well,” said Captain Tien.
With AirAsia’s domestic flights ready to start on the 1 May, and its new procedures given approval by the government, might we see similar airport procedures adopted across Europe and the US? It would be easy to criticise these methods simply as adding further confusion and delays at the gate, but I feel the entire world has become more informed about virus transmission during the COVID-19 pandemic and airlines are simply trying to do their best for their passengers, airport workers and crew, so perhaps a little more patience will offer us that bit more protection.