Budget airline Wizz Air has resumed some passenger flights today, stating that they will impose "enhanced" health and safety measures, including masks and gloves for cabin crew and the distribution of hand sanitizing wipes to passengers. Passengers are also being 'encouraged' to watch Wizz Air's health and safety video and to use contactless payments for onboard purchases.
Notably, the steps do not include the use of face masks (which it is anticipated will be one of the government's requirements in the lifting of the lock down) and no social distancing measures are being put in place, unlike Easyjet who have previously stated an intention to leave the undesirable 'middle seat' clear on aircraft (see the post by my colleague Heidi). With the government still advising against travelling abroad, it is unclear how well utilised Wizz Air's resumed service will be.
Whilst Wizz Air declares time for take off for passengers, other airlines have turned to alternative ways to protect revenue. Many passenger flights are now being used for transportation of cargo. This is not new (half the world's passenger flights also transport cargo) but medical supplies (amongst other cargo) are now being loaded into passenger seats as well as the cargo hold to maximise space. Lufthansa, Delta and United (amongst others) are all reportedly transporting cargo in this way. Further, with the decline in passenger flights, cargo space is harder to come by and prices are reportedly being pushed up by more than a third.
Doubtless revenue has still dropped, however, and it remains to be seen how many airlines will make it out of the current crisis. The news is filled with the difficulties which airlines are facing: Flybe has collapsed into administration, Virgin Atlantic are seeking government support and both British Airways and Norwegian Air have announced intended redundancies. No doubt the airlines are desperate to get flight timetables back to normal and, in the interim, are calling on the government to offer further support whilst most passenger flights remain grounded.
Wizz Air resumes flights from Luton Airport with 'enhanced' health and safety measures