Today, August 14th, Canada’s Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, announced Canada’s Flight Plan for Navigating COVID-19 – otherwise shortened to “Canada’s Flight Plan”. According to information released by the Canadian government, this is an action plan which “puts in place a multi-layered system of safety measures to support public health.” Let’s examine what kind of safety measures the government has in mind.
Canada’s Flight Plan for Navigating COVID-19
The Government of Canada says that it has worked with public health authorities, counterparts around the world, and industry partners to develop this plan for COVID safety in air travel. It goes on to say that it is “aligned to emerging global safety standards and best practices.”
“Canadians need to know that the Government of Canada continues to work with partners to protect public health by implementing measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission during air travel. This is especially important during a period where jurisdictions both within Canada and beyond begin to open up and lift restrictions including those on travel.” -Canadian Ministry of Transportation
Critical changes to all aspects of air travel
The Canadian Ministry of Transportation says that these changes will apply to all aspects of air travel. This includes inside airports and onboard aircraft. Specifically listed were the following measures:
- Mandatory use of face masks for passengers and crew;
- Mandatory health checks by air carriers before passenger boarding;
- Temperature screening at the busiest Canadian airports and at points of origin for all incoming flights to Canada;
- Restricted services and passenger movement during flights;
- Enhanced cleaning and sanitation protocols and practices.
The following measures will be instituted at Canadian airports:
- Enhanced air conditioning and filtration systems;
- Frequent cleaning of high-touch areas;
- New touchless technologies to scan boarding passes;
- Physical distancing measures.
The Government of Canada says that, to date, it is not aware of any cases attributed to passenger-to-passenger transmission on a flight to or from Canada. However, it says that work continues with the provinces and territories to strengthen contact-tracing processes to reduce and quantify the risk of COVID-19 transmission during air travel.
Response from Canadian carriers
Simple Flying reached out to several Canadian carriers, seeking a response to this announcement.
Ed Sims, The WestJet Group President, and CEO says that safety has always been above all at WestJet, and the airline continues to welcome the implementation of the Flight Plan. “We remain committed to working with the Government of Canada to ensure all protocols are consistent with the best practices and advice available to us from around the world.”
At the time of publication, no other airlines had responded to our inquiries.
However, Simple Flying has experienced first-hand the COVID-19 safety protocols of both Flair Airlines and Air Canada as early as June. It would appear that carriers have been practicing many of the government’s safety measures long before the announcement of this ‘flight plan.’
However, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have a government-mandated standard that takes the guess-work and ambiguity out of air travel. With a single baseline and standard, Canadians and those traveling to or from Canada may have a little more peace of mind.
What are your thoughts on this new government initiative? Too little too late? Or a welcomed step? Let us know in the comments.