Foreign airlines adopt no-mask no-boarding policy
• NCAA issues guidance on aircraft, airport disinfection
At least four out of about 30 foreign carriers that operate in Nigeria have made it compulsory for all passengers to wear face masks during flights in response to the coronavirus crisis.
Air France and KLM said they would be telling customers to wear a mask throughout their journey from next Monday. German airline, Lufthansa, earlier adopted the rule, saying passengers must wear a face mask covering the nose and mouth.
In a related development, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), has issued a national interim guidance on aircraft and aviation facilities’ cleaning ahead of the easing of current restriction. Air France said its face mask policy was in line with French guidelines that said face masks must be worn on public transport.
The airline said all customers would be notified of the new rule prior to departure and would be asked to “ensure they possess one or more masks for their trip.”
In addition, cabin crew and gate agents will also be required to masks.Passengers travelling on the airline will also have to practice social distancing at the airport, while Plexiglass screens will also be installed where possible.
Onboard, passengers will be spread out as much as possible, with Air France saying the current low load factors “make it possible to separate customers as required.”
Aircraft will also be cleaned daily with surfaces including armrests, tables and screens disinfected. Air France will also introduce a specific procedure for “the periodic disinfecting of aircraft by spraying an approved virucidal product effective for 10 days.”
The in-flight service is limited with no meals and drinks offered on domestic and short-haul European flights. On long-haul flights, cabin service is also limited and preference is given to individually wrapped products.
In addition, the airline said the air in the cabin would be renewed every three minutes as Air France aircraft are equipped with “High Efficiency Particulate Air” or HEPA filters, identical to those used in hospital operating theatres.
Meanwhile, KLM’s announced a new face mask policy and the gradual restoration of its European network. The Dutch carrier said the mask rules were based on national and international guidelines and must be worn on board and during boarding.
Passengers are responsible for providing their own masks and the rule would stay in place until at least August 31, 2020. Lufthansa on its part urged travellers to wear their masks throughout the entire journey, including in the airport, especially where minimum distance cannot be guaranteed without restriction.
The airline said: “All Lufthansa Group aircraft are equipped with the highest quality air filters, which guarantee air quality similar to that in an operating theatre. In addition, the air circulates vertically instead of being distributed throughout the cabin.”
Passengers must bring their own masks, but the airline also said that simple coverings such as scarves are also acceptable. The policy will be in place until at least August 31, 2020.
Lufthansa said: “Despite numerous adjustments to service procedures, it is not always possible to maintain the required distance on a flight. Therefore, this measure serves as additional protection for all passengers. All flight attendants on Lufthansa Group flights in direct contact with customers will also be required to wear a mask.
“The current regulation of Lufthansa Group Airlines to keep the neighbouring seat free in economy and premium economy class will no longer apply, as wearing the mouth-nose cover provides adequate health protection. Due to the current low occupancy rate, seats will nevertheless be allocated as widely as possible throughout the cabin.
“In principle, infection on board remains very unlikely. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, no concrete cases of transmission on Lufthansa Group flights have become known.
“All Lufthansa Group aircraft are equipped with the highest quality air filters, which guarantee air quality similar to that in an operating theatre. In addition, the air circulates vertically instead of being distributed throughout the cabin.”
United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, JetBlue, and Frontier Airlines have also made face masks compulsory for passengers. Other airlines including British Airways and easyJet have not yet taken a position on masks.
On Qatar Airways, which is still operating between 30 and 50 flights a day, face masks aren’t mandatory – unless they are required to be worn by the destination country. A spokesman said: “We are keeping it under review and following the scientific and health guidelines.”
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