The world’s airlines and airports are doing everything they can to ensure that people are assured that flying again is safe given the coronavirus pandemic. Airlines are calling on both passengers and their staff to wear face masks and implement new aircraft cleaning protocols, add social distance to boarding, leave an empty seat on aircraft and one of them also forbids passengers from queuing to use the toilet.
Airports use high-tech and low-tech tools to track passenger temperatures; they use biometric tests to streamline identification, security procedures, immigration and customs; and they also use autonomous robots to clean terminal floors. Will distancing measures work , for example, if passengers sit several hours with other people? Temperature testing may identify those who are already sick, but how do we identify those who have the virus because, according to some estimates, 35 % of people are asymptomatic and 40% of people are infected until they feel sick?
“There are many unknown issues right now,” said Henry Harteveldt, founder of Atmosphere Research Company, a San Francisco-based tourism industry analysis firm. “Do airports and airlines have to invest in something that’s sustainable in the long run, like airport security, or are they tactical short-term interventions?” “This uncertainty, along with unnecessary variation in the diagnostic procedures for people’s health status from airport to airport, makes confused consumers not confident enough to take a trip,” Harteveldt said. “They can only fly when necessary and not for business or fun, if they want to.”