Airline passengers want to see barriers to boost confidence — industry execs

Airline passengers want to see barriers to boost confidence — industry execs
Passengers say they would feel happier if there were screens. (File/Shutterstock)
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Updated 24 September 2020

Airline passengers want to see barriers to boost confidence — industry execs

Airline passengers want to see barriers to boost confidence — industry execs
  • Other pandemic-related trends could include more private business class seating on narrowbody planes
  • Passengers say they do not all trust industry assurances about high air quality onboard

SYDNEY: Airline passengers want visible plastic barriers in the cabin to reinstill confidence in flying during the pandemic, saying they do not all trust industry assurances about high air quality onboard, aviation industry executives said on Thursday.
Other pandemic-related trends could include more private business class seating on narrowbody planes, adding touchless lavatory features and permanent conversions of passenger planes to freighters, according to a panel at the MRO Asia-Pacific conference held online.
Embraer SA is studying reusable and disposable plastic barriers for its regional jets, but challenges include making sure they are lightweight, not flammable and do not affect aircraft cleaning and evacuation, said Lais Port Antunes, a business development manager in the planemaker’s Asia-Pacific division.
“Modern aircraft are already equipped with excellent technology to filter the air,” she said. “The passengers should feel safe in an aircraft cabin, but they need to see actions.”
Tan Hean Seng, a senior executive at Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd, said airline customers, fearing cost increases, did not seem interested putting fewer seats in economy class. But, he added, the airline still needed to reassure them about risk.
“Having a shield between the seats, the passengers may feel safer, especially during mealtimes when passengers take off masks and there is potential contamination,” Tan said, adding his company had developed a prototype.
In business class, airlines are already expressing more interest in lie-flat seating options as they look to use narrowbody planes on longer routes, Boeing Co. Vice President of Specialty Products and Services Kate Schaefer said.
“There is an awful lot of interest in those premium passengers in having a pod-type solution,” she said. “There is going to be a lot of interest in pods, doors and staggered seating.”


WEF: Coronavirus to remain ‘clear and present danger’

WEF: Coronavirus to remain ‘clear and present danger’
Updated 20 January 2021

WEF: Coronavirus to remain ‘clear and present danger’

WEF: Coronavirus to remain ‘clear and present danger’
  • Disease the top risk to global security and livelihoods over the next two years
  • ‘The immediate human and economic cost of COVID-19 is severe’

DUBAI: The risk from infectious diseases remains a “clear and present danger” even as vaccines are being rolled out to counter the effects of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).

In its latest annual Global Risk Report, most respondents said that disease was the top risk to global security and livelihoods over the next two years.

In the medium to long term, they were worried about financial crises in the shape of asset bubbles arising from the pandemic economic crisis, and over the next 10 years the “existential threat” of weapons of mass destruction was the biggest fear.

In the gloomiest risk report for many years, the WEF said: “The immediate human and economic cost of COVID-19 is severe. It threatens to scale back years of progress on reducing poverty and inequality and to further weaken social cohesion and global cooperation.

“Job losses, a widening digital divide, disrupted social interactions, and abrupt shifts in markets could lead to dire consequences and lost opportunities for large parts of the global population.

“The ramifications — in the form of social unrest, political fragmentation, and geopolitical tensions — will shape the effectiveness of our responses to the other key threats of the next decade; cyberattacks, weapons of mass destruction and, most notably, climate change,” it added.

Environmental issues were also a key concern of respondents to the risk survey, with the likelihood of extreme weather, climate change failure, and human environmental damage the top three risks rated most likely.

Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the WEF, and Saadia Zahidi, its managing director, said that the WEF had been warning of the danger of pandemics since 2006.

“In 2020, the risk of a global pandemic became reality. As governments, businesses, and societies survey the damage inflicted over the last year, strengthening strategic foresight is now more important than ever.

“In some cases, disparities in health outcomes, technology, or workforce opportunities are the direct result of the dynamics the pandemic created. In others, already present societal divisions have widened, straining weak safety nets and economic structures beyond capacity,” they added.

Some countries in the Middle East have handled the pandemic crisis relatively well, the WEF said. “Capacities and responses varied greatly but relatively young populations may have spared the region from higher death tolls; however, data in some locations are uncertain.

“Some nations with advanced medical systems and regimes able to enforce lockdowns and other social restrictions along with border controls have managed successive waves of infections.

“Other, poorer nations, and those that are fragile and in conflict situations, however, are suffering exacerbated economic and humanitarian challenges,” the report said.

The WEF highlighted the problems of young people, whom it labelled “pandemials.” It said: “The world’s youth have faced exceptional pressures in the past decade and are particularly vulnerable to missing out altogether on the opportunities of the next.”