Due to containment measures taken around the world, travelers have been forced to cancel their air travel in 2020. Yet, according to several studies, the plane is the safest means of transport to avoid contamination at the Covid-19.
If there is one sector, in transport, which has been struggling since the appearance of Covid-19 at the end of 2019 / early 2020, it is aeronautics. Closure of borders, containment measures, cancellation of trips … In June, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) sounded the alarm, presenting its financial forecasts: airlines would lose more than $ 80 billion over the year (a figure since revised increase: 118.5 billion), with a negative profit margin (-20.1%).
“Financially, 2020 will have been the worst year in aviation history, said at the time Alexandre de Juniac, the director general and chief executive officer of IATA. On average, every day of this year brings losses of $ 230 million to the industry. In total, losses of $ 84.3 billion. This means that based on the expected number of 2.2 billion passengers this year, airlines will lose $ 37.54 per passenger ”.
Despite a year 2020 already in the annals, airports were able to resume service (slightly), thanks to the end of year celebrations and the relaxation of containment measures decided in some countries. Thus, that of Lille-Lesquin saw an upturn in activity in December, with the number of planes initially multiplied by five (i.e. 70% of the activity compared to the same time the last year).
The plane, the most safe facing the pandemic
If the plane is the means of transport most affected by the crisis linked to the pandemic, this record drop in attendance is inversely proportional to the risk of transmission of the virus within an aircraft, extremely low in normal times, even more since the implementation of barrier gestures. In a report submitted last October, researchers from the prestigious American University of Harvard have demonstrated that the health risks during a theft were almost non-existent. This is thanks to air ventilation, for example, which reduces exposure to the virus, which is much more pronounced in other closed places, such as restaurants, scientists say.
“This effectively counteracts the proximity to which travelers are subjected during flights. Due to frequent air recirculation and replacement of HEPA filters [filtres à haute efficacité, qui renouvellent l’air toutes les 2-3 minutes, ndlr] in airplanes, more than 99% of particles containing the virus are removed from the cabin air ”, informs the study. Optimal hygiene further reinforced by respecting basic barrier gestures, such as wearing a mask, or regularly disinfecting your hands.
Last October, other studies, including one piloted by IATA, supported this view: the probability of catching Covid-19 in a plane is almost non-existent – much lower, in any case, than that of ‘contamination on dry land. “Since the start of the year, we have identified 44 cases likely to have contracted Covid-19 during a flight, out of a total of 1.2 billion passengers, or a potential case for 27 million travelers”, informed at the time David Powell, the association’s medical adviser.
Based on this observation, the airlines therefore do not hide their optimism. Especially since by multiplying health measures as they do, they are doing everything to ensure that the plane remains the safest means of transport to avoid contamination with Covid-19. And they don’t skimp on new protocols: from UV rays to neutralize the virus, to special coatings, including the spraying of clouds of disinfectants or heat treatments.
IATA is also currently working on a “travel pass” project, a kind of electronic vaccination record containing passenger health information. As for the World Economic Forum, it wishes to set up a platform (“Common Trust Network”) to inform passengers not only of their personal data, but also of the health requirements of each destination. After a year 2020 at half mast, will 2021 be the year of the relaunch for air transport?