For some regional airline operators it appears that July will be the month to resume flight schedules, despite critics of this decision saying it is too soon to remove the social distancing rules. While many people have simply written off the option of a summer holiday this year. Ryanair, Europe’s largest LCC, has announced that it plans to have 40% of its scheduled service running from Wednesday July 1, although these will be subject to government restrictions on intra-EU flights being lifted. The airline plans to adopt public health measures already being used by several airports, although quite how the inevitable delays that these will cause will impact the proposed scheduled daily 1,000 flights is unknown. But rather than pour scorn on the plan, someone always must be first, and Ryanair has never flinched from a challenge and swatted away its critics for years.
In the run up to July, the airline has released an online video showing the measures that the airline has taken to reduce cross contamination, while at the same time offering advice to passengers when they travel. For example, checking in fewer bags, downloading your boarding pass to your smart phone, and encouraging passengers to always wear face masks in the terminal and onboard the aircraft. Social distancing will also be encouraged onboard but given current debate that other airlines are having with this, the so called “middle seat conundrum”, it will be interesting to see what procedures Ryanair has in mind.
While many observers have been critical of Ryanair’s business decisions in the past, this is a brave step to take and I have no doubt that other regional airlines and LCCs will be watching with interest as to how the new procedures impact passengers and operations. Given the planning that has gone into it, and the pressure from on high to ‘get flying again’, I expect it will be fine. Sure, there’ll be comments and critics on the first couple of days, but you can bet that apart from this ‘moaning minority’, the flights will still be getting to where they need to be, in the safest possible environment that can be provided by the airline’s cabin crew.
While it appears that airlines are slowly getting their plans in place to take-off when they get the all clear, it is now down to the passengers of Europe to have faith in airlines and airports, adapt to the new regulations and be aware of not spreading the virus themselves.