One of the hardest industries hit by coronavirus, travel is something we’re all aching to do–but it’ll look very different in a post-pandemic world.
If there’s one thing many of us are aching to do after being cooped up in self-isolation for the past few months, it’s getting as far away from said home as possible. For Aussies, that usually means getting on a plane.
The travel industry has undoubtedly been the hardest hit due to the coronavirus pandemic, but as some destinations begin their reopening, we do have to wonder what air travel is going to look like in the months following. Spoiler alert: “normal” is a long way off yet.
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Restrictions concerning domestic travel are thankfully already beginning to ease. For the last few months, major airlines Qantas and Jetstar were operating at five percent capacity in order to enforce social distancing. By the end of this month, however, capacity will increase to 15 percent and more than 300 flights per week will return.
Hygiene-wise, there’ll be hand santising stations at all departure gates and lounges, and wipes will be given to all passengers to clean seat belts, armrests, and trays. Face masks, while not mandatory, will be provided and recommended for everyone’s peace-of-mind, and disinfecting of aircraft will be also ramped up.
Virgin Australia, meanwhile, will have face masks and sanitiser available to guests but encourage travellers to bring their own. Oh, and FYI; because hand sanitiser is a flammable liquid, you’ll need to limit the bottle to 500ml or less.
Service and catering across all major domestic airlines will be simplified to minimise touchpoints for crew and passengers alike. That unfortunately means no booze and no-inflight magazines for the time being.
“Wherever possible we will try to keep an empty seat between guests travelling alone, however, this may not always be possible,” says Virgin Australia.
“Guests are asked to avoid unnecessary movement around the cabin and avoid gathering in the aisles.”
You’ll be comforted to know that aircraft are fitted with hospital-grade High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, which remove more than 99.9 percent of microbes from the air and cabin air is refreshed every few minutes.
There is still a LOT of uncertainty here, as each country as at its own phase of the outbreak. Many countries, such as the US and Brazil, are still reporting an increase in cases. At the moment, all overseas travel by Australian citizens and permanent residents is banned, and there’s no indication when this will be lifted.
Alexandre de Junaic, CEO of the International Air Transport Association, said in a press conference in May that international may take until 2023 for air travel to return to pre-coronavirus levels, however he did say that by the end of this year, it could be back to half capacity.
So unfortunately, we have to put our dreams of a European summer on the shelf for now, so jump in the car and show some much-deserved appreciation for our beautiful home country.