Qantas Group announced a series of measures to ensure that passengers can travel safely when domestic travel is expected to resume normal operations in July.
As part of their newly launched “Fly Well” program, the airlines will provide masks to passengers, hand sanitising stations, and implement enhanced aircraft cleaning.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said: “We’re relying on the cooperation of passengers to help make these changes work for everyone’s benefit, and we thank them in advance for that. Given the great job Australians have done at flattening the curve, we’re confident they’ll respond positively to these temporary changes to how we fly.”
Information will be sent to all customers before they fly so that they know what to expect once they arrive at the airport. Check-in will be contactless via online and app platforms, and using the self-serve bag drop will be “strongly encouraged.”
There will be hand sanitising stations at departure gates. Qantas Lounges will be open with temporary changes, including increased physical distancing, hand sanitising stations, enhanced disinfection of surfaces, and adjustments to food and drink service.
Qantas has worked with airports to ensure that regular cleaning and safeguards are in place throughout the terminal.
Passengers will board in sequences to prevent crowding. Masks will be provided to all passengers to wear onboard. However, Qantas noted that these are not mandatory “from a safety point of view” but are recommended.
All touchpoints will undergo enhanced cleaning with “disinfectant effective against Coronavirus”—this includes seat belts, tray tables, armrests, overhead lockers, toilets, and air vents—and passengers are provided disinfectant wipes if they prefer to do this themselves.
Meal service will be simple to minimise contact between passengers and cabin crew, and passengers will be asked not to move around the cabin unless needed.
Qantas and Jetstar aircraft are fitted with hospital-grade HEPA filters, which remove 99.9 percent of all particles, including viruses. The air inside the cabin is refreshed on average every 5 minutes, Qantas Group said in a media release.
Qantas Group Medical Director, Dr. Ian Hosegood, said: “The data shows that actual risk of catching Coronavirus on an aircraft is already extremely low. That’s due to a combination of factors, including the cabin air filtration system, the fact people don’t sit face-to-face and the high backs of aircraft seats acting as a physical barrier. As far as the virus goes, an aircraft cabin is a very different environment to other forms of public transport.”
The “Fly Well” program will be reviewed after its first month of operation, to be shaped by customer feedback and any updated medical advice.
“We’ll continue to work with government and monitor the rollout of these measures closely, which are designed with safety in mind and help people feel comfortable given the new norms that have emerged in response to the Coronavirus crisis,” said Joyce.