After a devastating couple of months following the Covid-19 pandemic, planes are beginning to fly again as an industry braces for an uncertain future.
On select routes, such as between China and South Korea, between the Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, and between the nations of Australia and New Zealand, low-risk corridors are in operation. These will require passengers to navigate a patchwork of obstacles that include virus tests, temperature checks and weeks long corridors.
The UK is implementing similar corridors between key travel destinations. This will be of great relief to passengers and business travellers who have since turned to private charter companies, such as BitLux Travel, to get to their destinations.
This news will come as some relief for an airline industry that has been pushed to the brink during the worst crisis it has ever faced in its history. Indeed, some reports, have noted that the entire travel sector are experiencing a depression with joblessness two times the rate of the great depression in 1933.
The Unites States has already lost 15.8 million jobs over the last 4 months, this despite the massive amount of federal aid they have received to avoid job losses.
In the new climate, airlines are enforcing new social distancing measures in order to operate during what should have been the summer high season. Delta Airlines, for example, is enforcing a 60% cap on passenger numbers while it implements extra cleaning measures to keep its customers safe.
“Today our load factor on Delta is somewhere about 35-40% full,” Delta Airlines CEO Edward Bastian said in an interview. “Once we get close to 60% on an individual route that’ll be the trigger for us to add more planes into the system.
After coming to a complete halt, Delta is hoping to add 200 flights in June, and a further 200-300 in July. The good new stops there, however. The US/Canada border continues to remain closed, at least until the end of June, for all non-essential travel. And even when those borders do open, quarantine requirements and medical checks will continue to deter most travellers.
Indeed, the White House is also considering further restricting travel into the US, even as the country slowly begins to emerge out of lockdown. Opening borders continues to be fraught with risk, with many passengers returning from places like Italy and Iran, sparking fresh waves of the virus. The fact that many people infected with Covid-19 are asymptomatic, only complicates the situation.