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COVID-19: Physical distancing impossible on flights, says aviation minister

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika said it is almost impossible to achieve physical distancing on flights without hurting the revenue of airlines.

He said this during a webinar attended by stakeholders in the aviation sector. The webiner focused on the status of the industry restart.

Sirika was responding to a question from the Managing Director of Aero Contractors, Capt. Ado Sanusi, who wondered if social distancing would affect the prices of airfares.

The minister said total social distancing was impossible to attain in the airplanes.

He said, “The person sitting beside or behind you is not two meters away from you.

“When people say they would block one seat between passengers, what of the guy behind you and the one in front of you? The guy in front of you is in danger, should you sneeze or cough, you are actually coughing over his head.

“ It is very difficult to achieve because it means you have to take a sit on my left, right in front and behind to achieve at least 0.5 meters.”

Sirika said achieving social distancing on flights would mean that airlines stick with 40 per cent of their carrying capacity.

He argued, “To achieve that you are saying 30 or 40 per cent capacity should be allowed. I think we should research more between today and over the weekend to come up with something that we can announce soon.

“I cannot see us achieving physical distancing within the airplane and make money.”

He challenged stakeholders to come up with some ingenious way of achieving safety within the cabin rather than physical distancing.

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