Airlines say the probability of contracting COVID-19 on flights is less than 1%

A traveler wearing a face mask at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia (Bloomberg)

Leaders and executives of major U.S. airlines spoke last week at the Foro Global Shift, a virtual conference focused on the travel industry and, this year, on the growth paralysis due to the pandemic of COVID-19.

A few days before the October 1 deadline to expand the payroll assistance program Washington, which has awarded the sector US$25.000 millones In bailouts since March, the tone was generally more urgent than upbeat.

I went through September 11, the financial crisis, the restructuring, our merger with US Airways and the cessation of Max flights“, He said Maya Leibman, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer of American Airlines, “and I can say with certainty that this beats everything, as a crisis”.

Passengers along an airport corridor, after Italy made coronavirus testing mandatory for travelers from parts of France who have large numbers of cases, at Rome's Fiumicino airport (Reuters)
Passengers along an airport corridor, after Italy made coronavirus testing mandatory for travelers from parts of France who have large numbers of cases, at Rome’s Fiumicino airport (Reuters)

The executive leader of United Air Holdings, Scott Kirby, warned that the temporary cessation of employment derived from the end of the payroll support could lead to the expiration of licenses for pilots and other personnel that depend on certification, which makes it difficult to “go from 50 to 100 overnightWhen the lights come back on. He added that 100,000 jobs were currently at risk and said things are not likely to improve significantly. “until there is a widespread vaccine”.

Ed Bastian, executive leader of Delta Air Lines, he made a long-term prediction: A considerable portion of business travel will be lost forever, but prices will change as well.

However, JetBlue Airways he sees light at the end of the tunnel and says a vaccine or even widespread testing programs may not be needed for a recovery. According to the president of the company, Joanna Geraghty, the investigation of the TH Chan School of Public Health, of Harvard, could prop up consumer confidence. According to the institution, he said Geraghty, the advantage of using indoor masks and air filtration systems HEPA result in a “risk less than 1% of contagion of COVID in an airplane”.

It seems that the study of Harvard, sponsored by the aviation industry, has not yet concluded; for their part CDC has released preliminary data, showing that 11,000 people in United States have been potentially exposed to the virus on flights.

Convincing travelers that it’s safe to fly could turn into a five-year battle, says the International Air Transport Association. Regardless of how long it takes, one thing is clear: Aviation has the potential to get back on its feet, in better shape than before.

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