Airline industry has seen a drastic loss in revenue due to decline in global passenger traffic once COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020. After lockdowns were opened all over the world, States, including government regulators, stakeholders in the aviation ecosystem, airports, airlines and aircraft manufacturers have created, in collaboration with public health authorities, a series of initiatives aimed at reducing health risks for air passengers, aviation staff and the general public. These steps, which are applicable to Governments, airport operators, airlines and others in the aviation sector, are intended to ensure a reliable and predictable travel experience. However these measures and Airlines’ coronavirus safety has been challenged and questioned by many experts. Among them was a U.S. infectious disease specialist, Dr. David Freedman, who refused to participate in a recent presentation by the global airline body IATA with the aircraft manufacturers Airbus, Boeing and Embraer, citing his work. Although he welcomed some industry findings as “encouraging,” Freedman said a key statement about the improbability of catching COVID-19 on planes was based on “poor math”.

“With only 44 identified potential cases of flight-related transmission among 1.2 billion travelers, that’s one case for every 27 million,” IATA medical adviser Dr David Powell said in a news release, echoed in comments during the event.But Freedman, who co-authored the paper in the Journal of Travel Medicine with Dr Annelies Wilder-Smith of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said he took issue with IATA’s risk calculation because the reported count bore no direct relation to the unknown real number of infections.

While some airlines have seen the pandemic leaving middle seats vacant to reassure customers, the industry has resisted making such measures compulsory. They believe their good ventilation and their layout, plane cabins are considered lower-risk than many indoor rooms, with forward-facing passengers divided by seat rows. Pathogens are washed through high-grade philters by ceiling-to-floor airflows. However, to oppose airlines’ coronavirus safety,  a report by Vietnamese and Australian academics, said that one sufferer on a ten-hour London-Hanoi flight the same month contaminated 16 others, including 12 in her business-class cabin. “The study said, adding that its findings “challenge” the airlines’ statement that on-board distancing is unnecessary, “Long flights… may provide conditions for superspreader events. 

The risk level of contracting the coronavirus in flights is still a big question mark. Reviewing and monitoring the effective measures at regular intervals should be a compliance to enable a consistent check on passenger and aviation safety.