Southwest Airlines’ CEO Gary Kelly has claimed that flying is safe again. In a televised interview, he said that this was due to all of the measures being taken by the US low cost-carrier to reduce virus transmission.
Across the globe, demand to travel has tanked. This has caused the major US airlines to announce varying degrees of losses. However, data from the TSA shows that travel in the United States is begging to increase slightly. Amid this, airlines have been battling to implement various policies to try and make flying as safe as possible.
Flying is safe
Yesterday Gary Kelly, the CEO of Southwest Airlines, appeared on Face The Nation, a program produced by CBS News. The presenter, Margaret Brennan, asked Kelly, “is it safe to fly again?”.
In response, Kelly mentioned that Southwest is doing “everything possible” to get passengers flying again. He detailed some of the measures being taken by the low-cost carrier including:
- Cleaning airplanes;
- Requiring staff and passengers to wear masks;
- Deep cleaning every night with electrostatic misters;
- Implementing social distancing;
- It is limiting the number of seats that can be sold on each flight.
Kelly added that these measures would make flying “as safe as humanly possible.”
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) May 3, 2020
Selling fewer tickets
Kelly mentioned that the airline was implementing a cap on the number of seats that could be sold on flights. This will enable passengers to be more spread out across the aircraft. However, he didn’t elaborate on the percentage of seats that would be blocked.
While some airlines have been operating almost full flights, and the TSA shows passenger figures are rising, Southwest isn’t working at its typical capacity. Last week we reported that many Southwest and Delta planes were now parked at Victorville in the California desert.
Southwest reported a huge $94m loss for the first quarter of the year, with revenue down more than 17%. Although the blame for most of this lies with the coronavirus crisis, the airline is still without its 737 MAX aircraft too.
Is social distancing even required?
Many airlines around the world are implementing social distancing policies on board their flights. However, one major European airline has taken a step in the other direction.
The Lufthansa Group last week announced that it was scrapping its policy of social distancing on flights. This previously meant that at least one seat would be saved between each passenger in economy and premium economy.
Instead, the German flag carrier has mandated masks onboard its flights, which it believes are substantial enough. The case is similar to public transport in Germany, where masks are mandatory but distancing is not enforced. Lufthansa said at the time:
“wearing the mouth-nose cover provides adequate health protection.”
Do you think it’s safe to fly at the moment? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!