United Airlines Holdings will be implementing temperature checks for staff, will set up touchless kiosks and plans to roll out electrostatic sprayers, beginning with its airport hubs in Chicago and Denver airports. JetBlue Airways Corp has announced that it will also check crew temperatures, use electrostatic aircraft fogging to clean aircraft as of June, and will continue to enforce social distancing onboard its flights until at least 6 July.
Social distancing onboard commercial aircraft has proved difficult to carry out, however. “Even with blocked seats, it’s challenging to maintain six feet of distance between everyone onboard and that’s why JetBlue was the first US airline to require face coverings for customers,” the airline said.
Indeed, some airlines such as United have recently been criticised for not adhering to social distancing requirements onboard planes. United since noted that it could no longer guarantee all customers would be booked next to an empty seat.
Elsewhere, Delta Air Lines Inc plans to continue capping its passenger load at 60 per cent beyond June.
Airlines for America, US airline industry trade group, reasoned that airlines are working hard to help mitigate the spread of Covid-19. “The safety of passengers and employees is the top priority of US airlines,” it said. “Since the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic, carriers have been working closely with Congress, the Administration and federal agencies including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.”
Ultimately, customer confidence will be key to restarting the commercial aviation industry. As United’s Scott Kirby, who took over as CEO on Wednesday, put it: “We won’t get back to 100 per cent until sometime after people feel completely safe and Covid-19 will thankfully be in the rear-view mirror.”