See the birds fly

See the birds fly. As an aviation lover, I’d love to see them flying in the skies again. For the aviation industry, it is more than the desire of seeing them in the air again, it is the extreme necessity of keeping their businesses afloat. They know it’s safe, but would it be viable under the current restrictions?

Safety

A couple of weeks ago, I read an article shared on LinkedIn, about these special HEPA filters designed for the aviation industry. According to the article, these filters clean and replace the air in the cabin, every three minutes. The article also claims, the air in the cabin can be compared with an operating theatre, which has a sterile environment. 

If we add other preventative measures, such as the use of masks, temperature checks and adequate and regular hand sanitation, I would say it is quite safe to fly. In fact, I think it can be safer than visiting your local shopping centre, that we all know is crowded.

Airlines have been hard hit by this pandemic. Border closures mean no flights, and even if it’s considered safe, if people can’t travel due to border restrictions, it doesn’t matter if it’s safe or not, it won’t happen. But reality is in our face. Even with a vaccine, it doesn’t look like this virus is going to disappear overnight. So, what do we do? Do we create an environment where it is possible to function and being cautious, or we simply live in isolation from the rest of the word and take lots of airlines down?

I don’t think the answer is simple, or the solution easy, but we need to start thinking about this and make plans to “live with COVID, rather than getting rid of COVID”. Airlines are struggling, thousands losing their jobs and if we don’t start thinking ahead, we will never see the birds fly again. I know we don’t have an economy if you don’t have people, and I am not saying we should open borders and start spreading the virus again. But I believe, it is time to think about ways of returning to “covid normality” and be safe. In that world, it would be possible to see the birds fly again.

Last week, Alitalia announced that 2 out their 7 Rome-Milan flights will be “Covid-free flights”. This means that passengers will need to present a medical certificate as a proof they have been tested and the result was negative. They will also need to do a free antigen rapid test, before boarding.

Viability

These measures could help to increase both customer and government’s confidence in the industry.  It could be a way forward for this sector, but for that to happen, international borders need to be opened again. We don’t know yet when we will be in that position.

All of this has costs. Hand sanitizer, masks, thermometers to check passengers temperature and even some extra staff to perform all these checks. Plus, the reduction of the number of people allowed inside the cabin will limit the profitability of the flights and consequently their viability. Keeping a plane in the air is a very expensive exercise, from fuel costs, to maintenance, staff, food, etc. If the money made on tickets does not cover these costs, then we won’t see the birds fly. Because if airlines have to increase prices to cover costs, they would simply lose customers who could not afford to fly anymore. It is a tricky situation.

If the testing is made compulsory for all flights, then the numbers could be increased making flights more viable. I strongly believe this could be the solution going forward. It will ensure that those travelling are not infected, so it would help control the spreading.

In the end

In the end, it all comes to us, citizens of the world. If we all do our bit, if we all keep a safe distance, wash our hand regularly, use masks in all public places, we will help the world recover from this. If we follow the rules, we will get our jobs back, we will get our economy back and, yes, we will see the birds fly once again.