Philippine Carriers Should Conduct Rapid CoviD-19 on Passengers Prior to Boarding

Mandatory social distancing on board aircraft will be a financial disaster for our airlines, particularly the low-cost carriers.By  keeping the "middle seat" empty, or the seat number 2 in a row of three, this will result to a capacity reduction of up to 40%, which may force airlines to raise their ticket prices.

Photo credits: Gary Sato
Considering the after-quarantine conditions where many have either lost their jobs, taken pay cuts, or were put on furlough status, the income of the middle-class will be depleted. They may not have the means to pay for higher air fares, hence, may result to a lower air travel demand in the Philippines.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), mandatory social distancing on board will force airlines to raise fares by 50% in order to at least earn a minimum profit. This will spell the end of low fares and may put our low cost carriers in danger.

The best move our aviation authorities can do is to conduct a mandatory rapid CoviD-19 testing on all passengers even before entering the boarding gates where results can be released in less than 10 minutes. This will guarantee a flight to be CoviD-19 free rather than the people and the crew not knowing if there are any one infected on board. Also, the results of the test can be presented at the airport of arrival as part of the health requirements if needed and when needed.

Emirates is currently using this method to ensure the safety of the flight and will be implemented and its other flights. 

Such move will be able to give the passengers and crew "peace of mind" that there is no one on the flight infected with CoviD-19 rather than just merely observing social distancing on board. It may be costly for the airline but it will be more costly to implement social distancing on board which does not guarantee if a passenger on board is infected.

The whole aviation scene however may not normalize until a vaccine against CoviD-19 is made available to the public. For now, airlines have to really come up with methods in order to restore confidence on air travel and to ensure the safety of the flight.

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