Transport Canada has revealed its action plan to reduce the public health risks of COVID-19 while flying.
The multi-layered system of safety protocols applies to both airports and planes. They include travel restrictions; mandatory use of face masks for passengers and crew; health checks prior to passenger boarding; temperature screening; restricted services and passenger movement during flights; and enhanced cleaning and sanitation practices.
In airports, these designs and measures include enhanced air conditioning and filtration systems; frequent cleaning of high-touch areas; new touchless technologies to scan boarding passes; and physical distancing measures.
“This comprehensive plan aligns the actions of government and industry partners to the best practices emerging around the world to protect passengers and air industry workers from COVID-19,” says Transport Minister, Marc Garneau, about Canada’s Flight Plan for Navigating COVID-19.
The country’s two largest airlines and two largest airports are backing the plan, citing it’s a major step forward in restarting Canada’s air travel industry. It is also in line with the biosafety programs already put in place by Air Canada, WestJet, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority and the Vancouver Airport Authority.
Moreover, it outlines potential future enhancements, many of which the organizations are already working to adopt.
“This is an important step to enabling business and the economy to safely restart alongside COVID-19, particularly the airline industry, which is a key economic driver,” says Air Canada president and CEO, Calin Rovinescu.
Modern passenger aircraft also offer a unique environment with design characteristics that reduce the risk of viral transmission. The air is exchanged at a high rate, with HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filtration in most large commercial aircraft. Further, the potential spread of the virus between rows is reduced by the high seatbacks and the fact that almost all passengers are seated in the same direction.
Canada’s Flight Plan will be refined as the federal government learns more about COVID-19, and as international best practices evolve to ensure safety and efficiency of the country’s aviation system in the months and years to come.