Airlines say it’s still safe to fly
QANTAS has become the latest airline to release a video trying to assuage fears of those still planning to fly in coming months.
The video, released on March 12, features Qantas Group Medical Officer Russell Brown and Darsh Chapman, Head of Australian Regional Operations and Airport Services, speaking about medical and hygiene practices, as well as routines used to clean planes.
"Understandably we're getting a lot of questions from our customers at the moment asking us one simple question in particular, and that is' 'Is it safe to fly?'" Dr Brown says on the video.
"The simple answer is yes."
Dr Brown goes on to say the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-9, during a flight was very low.
"The World Health Organisation and Australian health authorities say the risk of contracting the coronavirus on-board an aircraft is very low and similar to that of other public spaces," he said.
The video is similar to many being released by airlines around the world as the companies ramp up efforts to reassure those who are still travelling that planes are cleaned regularly and to inform them of any additional sanitisation practices that have now been introduced.
Notices have even been posted about an item that has become a hot commodity since the virus outbreak was declared a pandemic, yet is still only allowed on board in small bottles.
Highlighted in red, an "important information" notice posted to the Dangerous goods part of Virgin Australia web site states only small bottles of hand sanitiser are permitted in carry-on baggage.
"Many hand sanitisers contain flammable liquids as the antiseptic which means there are restrictions on the quantity permitted to be carried," the warning states.
The reminder is a small part of airline officials trying to cater for thousands of anxious passengers questioning the santization procedures of all major airlines following the outbreak of COVID-19.
Prior to the release of the Qantas video, Josh Slusarki asked on the Qantas Facebook page what measures were being taken to disinfect and clean each aircraft once it had arrived at its destination.
"Or is nothing being done at this stage?" he wrote.
"I cleaned my own seat last week because it was clearly not clean … let alone germ free."
Others, including Amber Trumble, agreed.
"This is my biggest concern with flying and why I want to cancel my trip in May to the USA," she wrote.
"They should be doing a "major" clean after each flight before people board."
A Qantas representative replied that a number of precautionary measures had been implemented to reassure customers and staff.
"We adopt the highest standard in cleaning and disinfecting our cabins, seats, galleys and washrooms," the statement said.
"This includes strict disinfection of surfaces and fixtures such has personal television screens, meal tables, baby bassinet tables and armrests.
"We also remove all headsets, headrest covers, pillow covers, bedsheets and blankets."
A Qantas spokesman told the Courier Mail that international flights were thoroughly cleaned and disinfected at the end of each flight, while aeroplanes used for domestic flights were cleaned each night.
"Between (domestic) flights, they'll clean the toilets, check the seats and remove any visible rubbish, but there's not enough time to sit and spray every table," he said.
"That's done every night to the same level as the international flights."
He said the interior of the planes were cleaned thoroughly with both detergent and disinfectant solutions.
A hospital grand disinfectant called Viraclean is used should anyone if or when anyone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 has been on board, such as when three Qantas Boeing 747's were used to take Australians from China back to Australia at the start of the virus outbreak.
A Virgin Australia spokeswoman confirmed that airline followed similar practices.
She said they focused on cleaning Virgin aircraft with "the best products available."
"We are already best in class with flight cleaning," the spokeswoman said.
Spokesmen from both Jetstar and TigerAir said those airlines also followed the same sanitising procedures as their respective parent companies.
All airlines have also increased their staff members ensure high hygiene standards with masks and hand sanitiser available on board flights.
The aircraft also use High Efficient Particular Arresters (HEPA) aircraft filtration systems filter 99.999 per cent of dust particles and airborne containments such as viruses and bacteria.