Compulsory face masks, zero cash, extra cleaning services and a potential quarantine are among the new measures fliers could face as budget airlines in Europe plan to resume services next month.
British carrier EasyJet will resume budget flights from mid-June with passengers and crew required to wear masks in airports and on aircraft.
There will also be no food sold during flights, enhanced cleaning of planes, and disinfection wipes and hand sanitiser made available to passengers. The airline previously said it would leave the middle seat empty to allow for social distancing on board.
EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said the measures would remain in place for as long as they were necessary.
“The safety and wellbeing of our customers remains our highest priority, which is why we are implementing a number of measures to enhance safety at each part of the journey, from disinfecting the aircraft to requiring customers and crew to wear masks,” he said.
“These measures will remain in place for as long as is needed to ensure customers and crew are able to fly safely as the world continues to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.”
LIMITED INTERNATIONAL SERVICE
The low-cost carrier said its initial schedule would involve mainly domestic flying in the UK and France.
Further routes will be confirmed “over the coming weeks” as demand increases and coronavirus lockdown measures across Europe are relaxed, the airline said.
UK airports that will be served by easyJet from June 15 include Gatwick, Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Belfast.
The only international route from the UK will be between Gatwick and Nice, France.
Mr Lundgren said he was “really pleased” the airline was returning to the skies.
“These are small and carefully planned steps that we are taking to gradually resume operations,” he said.
“We will continue to closely monitor the situation across Europe so that, when more restrictions are lifted, the schedule will continue to build over time to match demand, while also ensuring we are operating efficiently and on routes that our customers want.”
Ryanair also announced it would bring in compulsory face masks for travellers and staff, ban cash and introduce extra cleaning services and air filtration on board.
But Ryanair’s Group CEO Michael O’Leary blasted the UK government’s decision to introduce quarantines at some point in future saying they are “ineffective and unimplementable.”
“Requiring international arrivals to quarantine only after they have used multiple public transport providers to get from the airport to their ultimate destination has no basis in science or medicine,” he said.
MORE AIRLINES READY TO FLY
A number of other airlines have announced tentative plans to ramp up their operations from the skeleton schedules currently being used due to the coronavirus pandemic.
British Airways is due to make a “meaningful return” to service in June. Spain has also allowed flights from Italy to arrive this week.
Guidelines published by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) also say passengers are expected to take personal responsibility and not fly of they have symptoms or declare their COVID-19 status before receiving a boarding pass.
They will be asked to provide contact information before flying to allow a track and trace system and those waving off friends and family may not be able to enter airport terminal buildings, except in special cases.
The announcement comes after EasyJet admitted on Tuesday that nine million of its passengers had their email addresses and travel details exposed in a “highly sophisticated” attack.
An additional 2,200 customers also had their credit card details stolen. The airline insisted there is “no evidence that any personal information of any nature has been misused”.