PAL, Cebu Pacific, and AirAsia assure health safety even without physical distancing on board

Local airlines in the Philippines continue to assure the flying public that the risk of covid-19 contamination on board the aircraft is very low.

Philippine Airlines (PAL), Cebu Pacific, and Philippines AirAsia continue to reiterate all safety and biosecurity measures procedures to ensure safe travels as they gradually resume commercial scheduled flights.

On focus are the HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arrester) filters which are equipped on all their aircraft. These filters catch contaminants including viruses with a 99.99% efficiency. Airlines also focus on the air flow inside their respective aircraft which flows from top to bottom before passing through the HEPA filters. The process of air renewal happens every 3-minutes. 

Photo credits: AirAsia

According to AirAsia, "all aircraft undergo deep cleaning and sanitation to control or neutralize infectious elements, thus minimizing the risk of spreading any virus. Cabin disinfection takes place before and after each flight.

"In addition, all aircraft are equipped with air filtration systems that effectively rule out airborne transmission of contaminants. The air inside the cabin passes through powerful High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters which purify the air every two to three minutes by screening almost the entire spectrum of particles. These filters are similar to those equipped in hospital operating rooms where airborne infection is much lower compared to normal environments."

Photo credits: Philippine Airlines

PAL has also ensured the safety of passengers and risk of transmission on board is low even if social distancing on board is not carried out. According to PAL, "our airplane cabins are designed to protect health and safety. High-tech systems refresh the cabin air constantly, and HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters screen out viruses and bacteria. Add rigorous cleaning/disinfection, use of protective gear and other safety measures and protocols, and the result is a safer journey for passengers on PAL's flights around the world."

Cebu Pacific also reiterates its safety measures on board. "The airline's fleet of Airbus jets are equipped with HEPA filters to block microscopic bacteria and virus clusters, including the Novel CoronaVirus, with 99.9% efficiency. By average, air inside the cabin is also changed every 3 minutes to maintain fresh and clean air."

Airlines have also stressed the importance of disinfecting every aircraft after flight which they carry-out religiously. Flight crew members who face passengers particularly the cabin crew are also made to wear PPEs or Personal Protective Equipment to ensure the passenger's and their own personal safety.

Distancing on board is unnecessary

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the risk of virus transmission on board is very low even if passengers are seated side by side, hence, their reason of not encouraging social distancing on board. Social distancing on board may also force airlines to raise ticket prices by 50% as they would need to cover the costs of unoccupied seats.

"The safety of passengers and crew is paramount. The aviation industry is working with governments to re-start flying when this can be done safely. Evidence suggests that the risk of transmission on board aircraft is low. And we will take measures—such as the wearing of face coverings by passengers and masks by crew—to add extra layers of protection. We must arrive at a solution that gives passengers the confidence to fly and keeps the cost of flying affordable. One without the other will have no lasting benefit,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

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