Three major European airlines have made it compulsory for all passengers to wear face masks during flights in response to the coronavirus crisis.
Air France and KLM say they will be telling customers to wear a mask throughout their journey from next Monday (May 11).
German airline Lufthansa brought in the new rule yesterday (May 4), saying passengers must ‘wear a face mask covering the nose and mouth’.
Air France is to make it compulsory for all passengers to wear a face mask from Monday, May 11
Air France says its face mask policy is in line with French guidelines that say face masks must be worn on public transport.
The airline says all customers will be notified of the new rule prior to departure and will be asked to ‘ensure they possess one or more masks for their trip’. In addition, cabin crew and gate agents will also be required to masks.
Passengers travelling on the airline will also have to practice social distancing at the airport, while Plexiglass screens will also be installed where possible.
Onboard, passengers will be spread out as much as possible, with Air France saying the current low load factors ‘make it possible to separate customers as required’.
Aircraft will also be cleaned daily with surfaces including armrests, tables and screens disinfected. Air France will also introduce a specific procedure for ‘the periodic disinfecting of aircraft by spraying an approved virucidal product effective for 10 days’.
The in-flight service is limited with no meals and drinks offered on domestic and short-haul European flights.
On long-haul flights, cabin service is also limited and preference is given to individually wrapped products.
In addition, the airline says that the air in the cabin is renewed every three minutes as Air France aircraft are equipped with ‘High Efficiency Particulate Air’ or HEPA filters, identical to those used in hospital operating theatres.
Dutch carrier KLM says all passengers will be required to wear masks on its flights until August 31, 2020
The airline said: ‘These filters extract more than 99.99 per cent of the smallest viruses, including those no larger than 0.01 micrometres, thus ensuring that cabin air complies with quality standards.
‘Coronavirus type viruses, ranging in size from 0.08 to 0.16 micrometres, are filtered through the HEPA filters.’
Meanwhile, KLM’s announced a new face mask policy and the gradual restoration of its European network.
The Dutch carrier says the mask rules are based on national and international guidelines and must be worn on board and during boarding.
Passengers are responsible for providing their own masks and the rule will stay in place until at least August 31, 2020.
The carrier added: ‘Effective May 4, 2020, KLM will resume service – one daily flight, seven days a week – to the following destinations: Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, Milan, Budapest, Prague, Warsaw and Helsinki.’
Lufthansa says passengers are being recommended to wear their masks throughout their entire journey, including in the airport, when ‘minimum distance cannot be guaranteed without restriction’.
Lufthansa says: ‘All Lufthansa Group aircraft are equipped with the highest quality air filters, which guarantee air quality similar to that in an operating theatre. In addition, the air circulates vertically instead of being distributed throughout the cabin’
Passengers must bring their own masks, but the airline also says that simple coverings such as scarves are also acceptable. The policy will be in place until at least August 31, 2020.
Lufthansa said: ‘Despite numerous adjustments to service procedures, it is not always possible to maintain the required distance on a flight.
‘Therefore, this measure serves as additional protection for all passengers. All flight attendants on Lufthansa Group flights in direct contact with customers will also be required to wear a mask.
‘The current regulation of Lufthansa Group Airlines to keep the neighbouring seat free in economy and premium economy class will no longer apply, as wearing the mouth-nose cover provides adequate health protection. Due to the current low occupancy rate, seats will nevertheless be allocated as widely as possible throughout the cabin.
‘In principle, infection on board remains very unlikely. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, no concrete cases of transmission on Lufthansa Group flights have become known.
‘All Lufthansa Group aircraft are equipped with the highest quality air filters, which guarantee air quality similar to that in an operating theatre. In addition, the air circulates vertically instead of being distributed throughout the cabin.’
United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, JetBlue and Frontier airlines have also made face masks compulsory for passengers.
Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific has not made face masks compulsory – although the carrier says they are available to passengers who want one.
Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific has not made masks compulsory but is handing them out to passengers who want one
A source at Cathay Pacific told MailOnline Travel that the airline has been making health broadcasts at the boarding gate and recommending that passengers wear a mask.
However, the source explained that 90 per cent of Cathay Pacific passengers are already arriving at airports well prepared and only a small number of passengers need to request a face mask.
Nearly all Cathay passengers are wearing face masks in flight, the source added.
On Qatar Airways, which is still operating between 30 and 50 flights a day, face masks aren’t mandatory – unless they are required to be worn by the destination country.
A spokesman added: ‘We are keeping it under review and following the scientific and health guidelines.’
Other airlines including British Airways and easyJet have not yet taken a position on masks.
A spokesman for British Airways said: ‘Like all airlines – we adhere to industry and regulatory requirements and safety standards. We provide regular updates to our crew on best practise so they can take necessary precautions, and we have put additional measures in place to support our colleagues.
‘These measures are constantly reviewed and enhanced wherever possible and we provide personal protective equipment to our crews on board. Onboard equipment meets UK regulatory standards.
Airlines including British Airways and easyJet have not yet taken a position on masks
‘We have already made changes on board to reduce contact as much as possible, including temporary changes to our onboard catering, where customers will be offered pre-prepared refreshments, and removing the hot towel service.’
A Ryanair spokesperson said: ‘The empty middle seat measure is wholly ineffective and does not comply with two-metre social distancing rules.
‘We need effective health measures that work, such as wearing face masks and/or monitoring body temperature, which will help to meet health guidelines while allowing airline passengers to travel by coach and train to airports, to pass through crowded airports, and board/disembark aircraft without spreading Covid-19.’
An easyJet spokesperson said: ‘EasyJet is already taking steps to see where we can enhance safety when we restart flights including additional aircraft cleaning and disinfection, procedures in the airport such as social distancing and providing personal protective equipment to our crew.
‘This is being done based on discussions with international aviation agencies, supported by medical advice.
‘We will ensure that we are in compliance with any new regulations set down by the relevant authorities ready for when flying resumes.’
Meanwhile, a Singapore Airlines spokesperson explained: ‘No firm decisions have yet been taken as to additional safety measures that may be required once flying resumes in earnest.
‘There are various options under consideration and details of Singapore Airlines’ plans will be announced in due course.’