APEX (Airline Passenger Experience Association) recently encouraged normal air travel in alignment with World Health Organization (WHO) guidance alongside governmental recommendations for air passenger and employee protections. The notable exception to this policy exists for high-risk areas for the COVID-19 novel coronavirus as indicated by WHO, governmental authorities, and the recommendations of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).
"Aviation worldwide is firmly centered around safety. With strong airline and governmental response, customers should know that flights worldwide remain safe overall," APEX CEO Dr. Joe Leader stated. "Given heightened sensitivity, we encourage airline customers not to travel by air with cold or flu-like conditions at this time. Our airlines worldwide are very customer-centric in response to validated medical issues."
According to China's CAAC on the front lines of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus outbreak, modern jet aircraft have a 99.97% to 99.99% HEPA vertical filtration rate. With APEX's Asia office headquartered in Beijing, the associations have actively supported its airlines and suppliers as requested in the wake of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. In mid-January, APEX proactively facilitated a no-cost airline deployment of a next-generation virus sterilization robot for aircraft via supplier member Germ Falcon.
WHO has put forward common sense travel guidelines for all including frequent hand washing, use of alcohol-based sanitizer, coughing/sneezing into one's elbow, and not exposing one's self to individuals that may have been infected with COVID-19. As reported by WHO, those most at risk for COVID-19 novel coronavirus infection remain healthcare workers and family members – not airline travelers. As of today according to WHO, 99% of all novel coronavirus confirmed cases are in mainland China with 80% of those cases in Hubei Province accordingly to the WHO. Outside of Hubei Province, the fatality rate of novel coronavirus according to WHO statistics is less than a fraction of a percent (0.0016 or 1 out of 622).
Airlines operating flights to COVID-19 novel coronavirus affected areas are taking extraordinary extra steps for passenger protection. There has yet to be a confirmed case of airline transmission of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. To continue that trend, APEX implores passengers that have been in highly affected areas to actively self-identify for coordinated government-supervised travel.
APEX encourages airlines to follow WHO guidance and protocol like that from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in assessing passengers arriving from China presenting COVID-19 novel coronavirus symptoms while following infectious control guidelines for cabin crew.
Airlines across Asia are utilizing advanced aircraft sterilization techniques after flights for enhanced safety protocols including aircraft fogging disinfecting techniques after flights. On high-risk routes, airlines have exercised enhanced WHO guidelines to more proactively protect their passengers and crew including WHO protective mask protocols.