Corona: IATA favours face masks onboard for all; opposes leaving middle seat vacant

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NEW DELHI: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has come out in favour of passengers and crew “wearing face coverings and masks while on board aircraft”. With masks mandatory, the agency representing 290 airlines globally has spoken out against “mandating social distancing measures that would leave ‘middle seats’ empty”.
Many airlines and governments have said flying an aircraft with one-third seats vacant may not be commercially viable as that will mean pushing up the cost of the two-third seats that can be sold.
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“Evidence suggests that the risk of transmission on board aircraft is low. Mask-wearing by passengers and crew will reduce the already low risk, while avoiding the dramatic cost increases to air travel that onboard social distancing measures would bring…. IATA does not recommend restricting the use of the ‘middle seat’ to create social distancing while onboard aircraft. Evidence, although limited, suggests that the risk of virus transmission on board aircraft is low even without special measures,” IATA said in a statement.
IATA DG & CEO Alexandre de Juniac said: “The safety of passengers and crew is paramount. The aviation industry is working with governments to re-start flying when this can be done safely. Evidence suggests that the risk of transmission on board aircraft is low. And we will take measures such as wearing of face coverings by passengers and masks by crew to add extra layers of protection. We must arrive at a solution that gives passengers the confidence to fly and keeps the cost of flying affordable. One without the other will have no lasting benefit.”
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In addition to face coverings, IATA has proposed these layers of temporary biosecurity measures being proposed: Temperature screening of passengers, airport workers and travellers; boarding and deplaning processes that reduce contact with other passengers or crew; limiting movement within the cabin during flight; more frequent and deeper cabin cleaning and simplified catering procedures that lower crew movement and interaction with passengers.
“When proven and available at scale, testing for COVID-19 or immunity passports could also be included as temporary biosecurity measures,” IATA said.

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