Finnair is introducing new health and safety measures onboard its flights and at airports in which it operates starting May 18.

The carrier says “the most visible change” for passengers is having to wear a mask for the entire duration of their flights. Finnair’s “customer facing” staff at the airport as well as its cabin crew will also wear surgical masks.

Finnair joins a slew of airlines that have responded to the coronavirus crisis by requiring face masks for passengers and crew. Airlines such as Air France, Emirates and Singapore Airlines have also recently made face masks mandatory onboard.

Passengers flying with the Finland’s flag carrier will have to bring their own masks that cover both the nose and the mouth, and children under the age of seven are not required to wear a mask.

“We decided to introduce this measure because the usage of masks is becoming more widespread and they protect passengers from possible droplet infections. When everyone wears a mask, we’re able to protect each other,” says Piia Karhu, SVP, customer experience at Finnair.

“We recommend that customers acquire a mask that fits them already before their flight, pack as little as possible and check in online or with a mobile app – all of these reduce waiting times and contacts at the airport,” she added.

Finnair said it will also make the following changes to its services starting May 18:

  • Customers will be asked to maintain a minimum social distance of one meter between themselves and others at the airport.
  • Onboard, customers will be “seated apart from each other whenever possible” and these seating arrangements will be reviewed by the airline’s staff at the gate before boarding.
  • Customers will board the aircraft starting from those seated at the rear of the cabin.
  • Buses will only carry half their capacity.
  • Aircraft cleaning has “further been intensified with a special focus on high-touch areas”.
  • Sanitising wipes are available for customers onboard.
  • An adjusted in-flight service concept “will help to decrease contact between customers and cabin crew”.
  • Passengers are being asked to travel light to minimise the amount of baggage in the cabin.
  • Disembarkation will happen from the front to the rear of the aircraft “by groups”.

Finnair said it will review these measures on a regular basis and update them as needed.

Finavia, the Finnish airport operator, has also introduced new measures at Finnish airports. Customer facing employees at the airports have to wear surgical masks, floor stickers will mark social distancing rules at airports, customer service points are equipped with plastic shields and hand sanitiser is also available.