By Johanna Menzel

The corona epidemic is paralyzing large parts of public life in Europe. Even aviation is not spared: the corona virus epidemic is hitting aviation hard. The industry is in a deep crisis. Overnight, a multi-billion-dollar business has come to a halt. Nothing is the same. In this blog we inform you about everything you need to know about flying during coronavirus and how the private jet sector is reacting.

Many aircraft are grounded and some nations have completely cut off international passenger traffic. Headlines about commercial airlines are dominating the news flow: airlines around the world are suffering, the fear of contagion is causing bookings to collapse, empty planes and a severely thinned flight schedule. An enormous amount of jobs are at stake throughout the industry. Many airlines even had to apply for state aid.  

In some European countries, measures have been relaxed in the recent days, leading to people starting to travel again. It seems that aircraft are filling up again. Airlines reduced the capacity on flights. This leads to headlines in a shockingly style about “angry” and “worried” passengers who have to sit next to each other because social distancing is just not possible in commercial planes.  

Many shocked passengers let out their frustration in the social networks after such a flight. One of them was a cardiologist from San Francisco who posted a picture of a completely packed flight from New York to San Francisco. He also posted on Twitter, “This is the last time I’ll be flying again for a very long time.” 

Source: Twitter Post Ethan Weiss

These stories tell us a lot about the fear of passengers on commercial airplanes. But what they do not tell us is how safe or unsafe flying really is during the coronavirus.  

How dangerous is flying really at the moment? And how hard has the corona crisis hit private aviation? Fly Aeolus will answer these questions for you! 

The aircraft as a playground for viruses

The difficult situation of aviation is unlikely to change in the near future, as people are afraid to get back into airplanes while the virus is still circulating. A fear that is anything but unfounded. 

Researchers at the U.S. University of Purdue, Indiana, have produced an animation that shows how quickly and easily a virus can spread in the cabin of an airplane. The problem is not new, of course, but controlling viruses has never been a priority for the aviation industry, until the Corona Pandemic started. Experts believe that aircraft cabins pose a threat to the spread of infectious diseases. Air circulation in an aircraft and close contact with other passengers play a major role in this.   

An example from the time of the SARS epidemic illustrates the danger that a person infected with a virus in an aircraft poses to the remaining passengers: 

In 2003, a Boeing 737 took off from Hong Kong airport to Beijing. Seat 14E was occupied by a 72-year-old man who seemed to be feverish. Of the 120 passengers on board, 22 tested later positive for SARS. According to the researchers, the “most plausible” explanation was that they had been infected on the plane. The man died a few days later from an atypical pneumonia, which turned out to be SARS. 

Seventeen years later, this event reappears as the world faces a pandemic far more dangerous than the SARS epidemic. Researchers at the US University of Purdue have created an animation that shows how a single sick passenger can infect several others around him by coughing. In the simulation underneath you can see how the droplets spread in the cabin of a Boeing 767. 

Flying during coronavirus
You can watch the video on twitter!

But social distancing is not possible at the airport either. In order to guarantee the required security, kilometers of queues would develop, for which the airports would not have enough space. The need for sanitizing will also pose new problems for airports. Even if travelers would be able to automatically check-in, multiple fingers will be touching standalone kiosk screens.  

How will airports sanitize the luggage and hand-luggage? How will airports deal with the security process, should everybody wear masks? Will there be a disinfection tunnel or something similar? Will countries require passengers to have a “health passport”? 

Private Aviation in times of corona 

In order to be spared the acute danger of infection in a passenger aircraft, many travelers have already switched to flying in private jets. In the beginning of the pandemic, private jet providers have recorded a strong increase in bookings. Partly because airlines massively cancelled flights. Afterwards the market stalled to an average of 75% below usual. Currently we see an increase again as people are scared to board commercial airlines or because there is no flight available. 

Flying during coronavirus
Source: LinkedIn

In general, flying in a private jet reduces the risk of contracting an infectious disease. Passengers are picked up from and flown too their preferred airports which are less frequently visited or have a private jet terminal. 

In the following we explain how private jet providers, especially Fly Aeolus, are making it possible to offer safe flights despite the virus and to ensure the safety of their customers. We will also tell which actions Fly Aeolus undertook to offer a sanitized trip.        

You travel alone 

When the passenger flies with a commercial airline, he or she is exposed to about 700 points of contact: contact with strangers, when touching the toilet doors, reading the in-flight magazines. This starts already when checking in and going through the security process. When travelling with a private jet on the other hand, the chance of infection is about 30 times lower, at less than 20 points. 

Private jet providers guarantee the passengers the freedom to decide with whom they want to travel. This enables the companies to follow safety protocols and checklists more conscientiously. To avoid sharing a scheduled flight with a large number of other passengers, customers fly with their families and close colleagues in a business jet. In that way they equally avoid infection. Since private jets depart from smaller terminals, waiting in long queues at crowded airports is no longer necessary. In this way you avoid contact with strangers. 

The sanitization of aircraft 

Like the commercial airlines, private jet airlines are currently stepping up their cleaning measures. Aircraft are now cleaned after every operation as a standard.  

But in times of the corona virus this is often no longer enough. Many airlines have supplemented their standard cleaning practices with additional and special cleaning. In particular, areas that are often touched by passengers’ hands are disinfected. 

Some airlines even decided to up gauge the cleaning if there was somebody on board which is suspected to be infected. The extent of this measure depends on the exact situation.

Fly Aeolus closely follows the recommendations of the authorities and keeps track of all medical requirements to ensure the health of our customers. In addition, after every flight we will aerate the aircraft as much as possible. 

Pilots

Fly Aeolus has instructed all pilots, as well as the passengers, to wear breathing protection throughout the flight. Pilots will also interview all passengers before the flight about their current state of health and assess whether they have COVID-19 symptoms. 

Furthermore, the constantly updated instructions for reporting health conditions to the authorities are known and monitored. There is also a disinfectant gel on board, which can be used by our passengers. Our pilots will not shake hands and will always keep a 1,5 meters distance from the passenger outside the aircraft. Depending on the country pilots will not stay overnight but return to the home base instead. 

We are flexible! 

Since private jets fly from smaller terminals, passengers do not necessarily have to undergo health and safety checks like those with commercial airlines. 

Flying during coronavirus

Each country has its own regulations. Our special team in operations checks the situation continuously. If there is no regulation available, we will check other close and relevant regulations like ground taxi regulations. 

The biggest challenge is to ensure that all regulatory and medical requirements are met to prevent the virus from spreading.  

We are doing our best to provide you with the latest information regarding any travel restrictions during the corona crisis. Whenever you book a flight, we put safety first and carefully check whether all regulations can be complied with. We continuously inform our staff and pilots about relevant news concerning the corona outbreak in order to be able to offer you a hassle-free service and a clean Cirrus aircraft.

Avoid crowded airports and cancelled flights due to the coronavirus! Book your private flight today. Take a look at our private jet price calculator to get an idea of air taxi prices. 

If you have any further questions: do not hesitate to contact us by e-mail at info@flyaeolus.com or give us a call: +32 (0)4  242 9010 

We are looking forward to hearing from you!