The air you breathe on your flight is as safe as the air in a hospital operating theater. That was the word today from British Airways CEO Sean Doyle, the keynote speaker at Airlines 2050: Beyond the Crisis. The new CEO shared his thoughts on how the airline industry can navigate through the COVID-19 crisis. This includes the urgent introduction of pre-departure COVID-19 testing to get people flying.

Doyle said British Airways believes the risk of flying to public health is low. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported approximately 1.2 billion passengers flew since the beginning of the year. Yet, as few as 44 cases of COVID-19 have been linked to flights. Yes, it looks like flying is safe.

a man in a suit

Sean Doyle, British Airways CEO.                          Photo courtesy of British Airways

Safety Is Our Priority

“The safety of customers and crew is always our priority, and we are taking every safety measure to keep our customers safe. This is a multi-faceted approach and includes minimizing contact, sanitizing our aircraft from nose to tail, and asking customers and crew to wear face masks at all times unless they have a medical exemption. In the cabin, air is completely replaced every 2 to 3 minutes, passing through HEPA filters which remove microscopic bacteria and virus clusters with over a 99.9 percent efficiency, equivalent to hospital operating theatre standards.”

Doyle doesn’t think quarantine is a long-term solution, explaining, “We believe the best way to reassure people is to introduce a reliable and affordable test before flying. For the UK, this approach reduces the stress on NHS testing systems within the UK and on policing the quarantine system.”

You can view Doyle’s speech here.