The aviation body representing global airlines, International Air Transport Association (IATA) has come out in favour of passengers wearing masks onboard aircraft to ensure high-levels of safety.

However, IATA does not support mandating social distancing measures that would leave ‘middle seats’ empty.

Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO said, “The safety of passengers and crew is paramount. The aviation industry is working with governments to re-start flying when this can be done safely. Evidence suggests that the risk of transmission onboard aircraft is low. And we will take measures such as the wearing of face coverings by passengers and masks by the crew—to add extra layers of protection. We must arrive at a solution that gives passengers the confidence to fly and keeps the cost of flying affordable. One without the other will have no lasting benefit.”

Along with mandatory face-coverings, temperature screening of passengers, airport workers and travellers; boarding and deplaning processes that reduce contact with other passengers or crew; limiting movement within the cabin during flight; More frequent and deeper cabin cleaning; and simplified catering procedures need to be implemented.

An effective yet rapid onboard strategy should be put in place for the aviation sector to come back on track. As per a recent IATA report, airlines in the Asia Pacific region will see the largest revenue drop of US$ 113 billion and a 50 per cent fall in passenger demand in 2020 compared to last year. In India itself, over 29 lakh jobs in aviation and dependent sectors are at risk.