Travelling by air, how safe is it during the covid period?
Added on Fri July 30th, 2021
There are few scientifically confirmed cases of infection on board. Generally speaking, statistics show that the risk of becoming infected in flight averages one per 1.7 million travellers. Taking into account the uncertainty arising from asymptomatic passengers and the underestimation of cases of infection, this ranges from one case per 712,000 passengers to one per 8 million.
However, the airport is a structure that was not designed to facilitate interpersonal distancing; it is a crowded place. If so far the drop in traffic has solved the problem of social distance, when the number of passengers increases, the space available will also be reduced and therefore there will be more opportunities for contact.
1) Cafés and restaurants: these are very busy places before boarding and present some risk when people have to remove their masks to eat and drink.
2) Check-in and boarding gates: these are also areas where it is not possible to exclude the risk because the distance between travellers tends to be reduced.
3) Security checks: this is a part of the airport where queues naturally form and people – also due to anxiety – tend to respect physical distance less.
In mid-May, there were around 75,000 daily flights worldwide – including cargo flights – (data from Flightrader24). The number has doubled compared to 2020, but is not reaching 2019 levels (-34% compared to two years ago).
The focus on Italy
In the first half of the year, Italy – like most of Europe – struggled to catch up with the rest of the world, mainly because movements between countries were strongly constrained
On the basis of mid-May data (data from Eurocontrol) Italy has approximately 500 international flights per day (between arrivals and departures, including cargo). Two years ago there were about 2,900, while last year – in full lockdown – 135.
Decline in travellers
In 2020, the coronavirus wiped out almost two-thirds of the world’s passengers and caused airlines to miss out on $391 billion in revenue. This was certified in a report by ICAO, the UN civil aviation agency. In the past 12 months, around 1.65 billion travellers arrived at airport gates, 63.4% fewer than in 2019 (-2.85 billion). The sector has gone back to the volumes of 2003. 2021 will be just as complicated.
Read the entire report on Corriere della Sera.
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