Qantas and Virgin Australia have ramped up their commitment to social distancing by implementing new measures for passengers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The moves that involve limiting flight capacity come after a damning image of a domestic Qantas flight was shared on social media last week where all seats were occupied on the route between Townsville and Brisbane, appearing to ignore current social distancing measures.
Qantas has now moved to ensure all middle seats on aircrafts will be left vacant, ensuring travellers are kept apart on flights.
“While the risk of contracting coronavirus on board an aircraft is regarded as low, social distancing has been put in place across all flights,” Qantas stated.
A spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia there has been no transmission of the virus on flights so far.
“It’s important to note that there has been no known case of people contracting coronavirus on board an aircraft, anywhere in the world,” they said.
This is a on a flight from Nth Qld to Bris today for work.
What kind of social distancing is this? Pls RT. #covid19australia@Qantas @AnnastaciaMP @MadFckingWitch @vanOnselenP @abcnews @ScottMorrisonMP pic.twitter.com/dAs9TNjPXf
— 😷🐨💧Greenmitty🌳 (@greenmitty) April 13, 2020
“This includes instances where a passenger has later turned out to have travelled while infected.
“Likely reasons for this include air flow in the cabin, on-board filtration systems and the structure of the cabin itself.”
Qantas said due to the lower number of passengers, social distancing was already in full effect on flights but the image of a full aircraft was taken during a busier Easter Weekend.
And following suit, Virgin Australia has announced similar measures, blocking the seats either side of a traveller when they book.
“While the risk of contracting coronavirus on an aircraft is deemed low we have put in place social distancing measures on our flights for the health and safety of our passengers and crew who are always our number one priority,” Virgin Australia General Manager Customer Service Delivery, Paul Woosnam, said.
State and federal governments help out beleaguered airlines
Qantas and a struggling Virgin Australia have both been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak with national and international travel drastically reduced.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has welcomed Queensland's $200 million commitment to ailing airline Virgin Australia and insists the Morrison government is also exploring all avenues to keep two airlines in the air.
Queensland's Palaszczuk government confirmed it is providing $200 million to cash-strapped Virgin, with the airline having so far been unsuccessful in its request for a $1.4 billion loan from the federal government.
"Sustaining Australia's aviation industry is critical to protecting livelihoods and saving lives and the federal government is exploring all possible avenues to keep two airlines in the air, throughout this pandemic and on the other side of it," Mr McCormack told AAP on Saturday.
Mr McCormack, who is the federal transport minister, said the Morrison government has made a "significant investment" of an initial $165 million to keep Qantas and Virgin operating essential domestic network services, including the most crucial metropolitan and regional routes in Australia.
It brings the federal government's total support to the aviation industry to $1.28 billion, he said, with a heavy focus on Queensland routes.
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