From check in to baggage claim, airlines, airports and the TSA are working to keep the travel experience healthy and protect the wellbeing of passengers and employees. Ahead of the July 4th holiday, A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio joined TSA Administrator David Pekoske, ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin Burke and AAAE President and CEO Todd Hauptli to discuss how the airline industry is working collaboratively with industry and government partners.
Prior to the current health crisis, U.S. airlines were transporting 2.5 million passengers each day, and were on track for another record year. As travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders were implemented, demand for air travel declined sharply. At its lowest point in late April, passenger volumes were down 96 percent, the lowest levels since before the dawn of the jet age in the 1950s. Although more people are returning to the skies as our country and communities slowly reopen, the reality is that air travel remains down about 80%, carriers still have 40% of their fleet parked and U.S. airlines are continuing to burn more than $6 billion in cash each month.
For those who are heading to the airport and boarding a plane, the travel experience looks much different than it did just a few months ago. Major U.S. airlines have voluntarily announced extensive measures – often exceeding CDC guidelines – as a part of a multi-layered approach to help protect passengers and employees. This week, U.S. airlines announced that passengers are now required to complete a simple health acknowledgement and evaluate their own health prior to travel during the check-in process.
“We want passengers to know that they should expect to see this added layer of protection the next time they check in for a flight,” said A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio.
This measure is the latest in a series of efforts, including face covering requirements, intensive cleaning procedures and adjusting inflight policies to limit interaction. Airlines are vigorously enforcing face covering requirements. U.S. airlines have implemented intensive cleaning protocols, in some cases to include electrostatic cleaning and fogging procedures. And, A4A carriers have aircraft equipped with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters that generate hospital-grade air quality. Airlines are also encouraging travelers to utilize mobile check-in, kiosks and to follow all CDC recommendations. Collectively, these measures provide layers of protection and recommendations for all passengers to #FlyHealthyFlySmart.
Airlines are not alone in ensuring that the travel journey is designed with the health of passengers and employees in mind. Airports across the country are working to implement protocols – including more frequent cleaning and installing plexiglass shields – to help ensure passengers are protected at each stage of their journey. And, our partners at TSA are playing a critical role in adding extra layers of protection to reduce the risk of transmission, including requiring their officers to wear face coverings and allowing travelers to keep possession of their boarding pass through check-in.
The health and wellbeing of the traveling public remains a top priority for U.S. airlines, airports and the TSA as our nation slowly reopens. We are working collaboratively to ensure that the travel experience allows for everyone to fly confidently and comfortably.
For more information about how A4A’s carriers are working to protect the traveling public and our employees, visit www.AirlinesTakeAction.com.