WASHINGTON | American Airlines resumed Wednesday to fill its planes to the maximum of their capacities, leaving some precautions against the COVID-19, which arouses the disapproval of the health authorities when the pandemic explodes in a part of the United States.
If other major us airlines, such as Delta Air Lines, had decided as early as the month of may of block of seats to adhere to the social distancing on their devices, other carriers, such as United Airlines, had never taken such action since the passengers had deserted the air.
The decision of American Airlines comes at a time when the acceleration of the re-opening of the economy coincides with a new outbreak of the pandemic.
“American Airlines has been very disappointed” when she made the announcement Friday, said the director of the Centres for prevention and disease control (CDC), Robert Redfield, in front of the health commission of the Senate on Tuesday.
“We don’t think that this is the right message,” he added.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, an expert in infectious diseases of the national Institute of health, has also criticized this decision then that without more preventive measures, the number of infections could rise to 100,000 per day, he warned.
“Obviously [the decision of American Airlines] is something of a concern. I don’t know what motivated this decision”, he said before the Senate.
“I think that in the confined space of a plane, it is all the more problematic”, he stressed.
As in hospitals
The new coronavirus has already done more than 127 000 deaths in the United States and the country still has more than 42, 000 new infections daily, according to the last count of the Johns Hopkins university, in which reference is made.
And because of the rise in infections and deaths, particularly in the south and west of the country, some u.s. States have had to take a break in the process of déconfinement.
American Airlines seems to take a different approach to the precautionary principle.
“We are adamant in our commitment to the safety and well-being of our clients as well as members of our team”, however, has provided the AFP a spokesman.
It has also put forward the “different layers of protection in place” for travelers, citing the port of the mask required, cleaning procedures improved as well as a “checklist of symptoms COVID-19 before the flight”.
Passengers whose flight is full can also exchange it at no cost to their ticket.
“Not a security strategy”
For its part, United Airlines estimated that block the seats in the middle, “it is a public relations strategy, and not a security strategy”.
Josh Earnest, his director of communications, has argued that the passengers seated to either side of the empty seats are separated by less than 6 feet (1.8 meters), i.e. less than the recommended distance in the United States.
Similarly, “the people in the row in front of you are within 6 feet of you, the people in the row behind you are less than 6 feet from you,” he responded.
For Delta, such as Southwest, block of seats contributes to more security. They have both decided to continue this policy until 30 September. JetBlue and Frontier also continue to limit their capabilities.
For the time being, the air transport is struggling due to travel restrictions at the international. Companies strive to regain customers on domestic flights.
In its defence, American Airlines argues that it disinfects all the aircraft from the ground up, “including the loops of the belts, seats, trays and other surfaces”.
Like its competitors, it also applies a jet condenser to the interior of the plane “that kills 99.9999% of viruses and bacteria in 10 minutes,” said the spokesperson.
“American [Airlines] is the only airline in the network to use a product that […] offer a continuous protection for seven days against bacteria, fungi and viruses, including […] the virus that causes the COVID-19”, a-t-he argues.
Finally, “the air filtration system […] provides an air full every two to four minutes, similar to the standard hospitals,” he said.
Questioned by AFP on the absence of general instructions, the aviation authorities have indicated that “the department of transportation and the federal agency of aviation [FAA] have made it clear that passengers had to wear masks when they travel by plane”.
And they are calling on the civic-minded to follow the recommendations of the CDC and those of the international Organization of civil aviation.