25 August 2020

Covid and Social Distancing Pain

Air Chathams is warning that recent government announcements relating to the requirement to social distance passengers will ultimately make air travel more expensive, particularly on smaller regional aircraft whilst piling on more commercial pain on airlines already hurting after emerging from the first lockdown. While supportive of New Zealand’s efforts to manage the spread of the Coronavirus, the impractical rules regarding social distancing on aircraft needs to be reviewed and replaced with mandatory on-board hygiene practice supplemented with compulsory mask wearing. Air Chathams Chief Operating Officer Duane Emeny said “It's impossible for Government to administer a broad-brush requirement to socially distance and believe it will be effective on a multitude of different aircraft types, especially when separation of passengers during boarding and deplaning at many regional ports cannot be achieved”. Air Chathams Commercial Manager Adrian Ali said that prices are going to rise. “If we’re restricted in the number of seats we can sell, yet we’re still covering the same expenses then it’s inevitable that prices to the customer will rise. We know that’s going to come at the expense of people being able to visit loved ones or explore more of NZ”. “The Do Something ‘New’ NZ campaign has clearly helped motivate Kiwi’s to travel and explore their own backyard and we’d been seeing demand steadily increasing prior to Alert Level 3 in Auckland which forced us to suspend all flights except the Chatham Islands” continues Ali. “The unseen component of social distancing on flights is the hours of work our teams are embarking on to block seats and redistribute passengers” Emeny adds. “None of this contributes to confidence around air travel at a time where anxiety is already very high and airlines struggling”. Air Chathams will be reverting to strict Alert Level 2 hygiene and protective equipment policies when regional flights restart to Auckland on Monday 31st including mandatory mask wearing, free customer hygiene packs and high strength anti-viral cleaning agents used after every flight.

Source : Press Release: Air Chathams

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