Aviation industry looks into future travel arrangements

‘de-densification’ and ‘neutralisation’ are now the catchphrases as the aviation industry looks into future travel once permitted to restart from the current grounding of passenger aircraft.

According to a report in The Independent, Alexandre de Juniac, director general and chief executive of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said that governments and health authorities will impose strict new rules intended to reduce the spread of Covid-19 when aviation restarts at scale. The concept of ‘de-densification’ and ‘neutralisation’ will be applied onboard as measures to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

De-densification refers to the reduction in passenger numbers to facilitate social distancing within the aircraft, while neutralisation refers to the process of specifying seats that must remain unoccupied.

Mr De Juniac said: ‘De-densification, if it is requested by the civil aviation and the health authority, will be by neutralising one seat in each row among the two rows of seats of short-haul aircraft.’

‘That is a complete shift of the business model of airlines operating short-haul aircraft,’ he added. On a Ryanair aircraft normally holding 189 passengers, with the middle seats unoccupied, only 126 would be allowed on board, the report noted.

Further, the CAA guidelines specify that the aircraft toilets must be cleaned after they have been used 10 times. Airlines cannot sell the last three rows of seats on international flights, which must be ‘reserved as a quarantine area for handling possible in-flight emergencies’. The rear lavatory on the right side should be designated for the exclusive use by those under quarantine. One flight attendant will be assigned to look after the passenger, and ‘should refrain from close contact with other crew members’.

Following this reduction, airlines would face higher costs, which will inevitably be passed on to the passenger, the report noted. If airlines are required to cut passenger numbers by one-third, fares could rise by 50 per cent, the report said, though the exact increase would depend on supply and demand.