No physical distancing needed on flights, but ban washroom lineups: airline trade group

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The trade association for the world’s major airlines is proposing a range of measures aimed at relaunching the global air travel industry — including an end to in-flight physical distancing rules — that run counter to the established policies of Canadian airlines and the federal government.

The International Air Transport Association’s roadmap to restarting commercial flights — which have dropped off by more than 95 per cent among Canadian carriers due to the COVID-19 pandemic — suggests that passenger face coverings have “obviated” the need for social distancing on board, that aircraft seats provide a further barrier to viral transmission and that onboard air filtration systems are equivalent to those at hospital operating theatres.

Nonetheless, the trade group backs a ban on washroom lineups to reduce “congregation of passengers” in the cabin.

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“If we don’t take these first steps in a harmonized way, we will spend many painful years recovering ground that should not have been lost,” said IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac.

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Safety and health authorities have stressed physical distancing on land and in the skies since the outbreak began.

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