Airlines’ new extreme cleaning measures
Airlines are unleashing a war on germs, battling to better each other with intense cleaning policies in a bid to reassure passengers.
Global airlines including Virgin Australia, Emirates, Etihad, Qatar and Thai Airways are among those promoting enhanced cleaning policies as the latest weapon in their bid to lure passengers back on board.
After Qantas last week came under fire over its cleaning procedures, its competitors are focusing their efforts on highlighting their own rigorous cleaning procedures.
A series of promotional videos featuring footage of masked industrial cleaners, set to triumphant soundtracks, emerged on airlines' websites and social channels, each eager to outdo the last when it comes to hygiene measures.
"Our cabins are the cleanest in the skies" Emirates declares in a YouTube video detailing its daily deep-cleaning procedures. It says any aircraft with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 undergoes enhanced cleaning protocols lasting up to eight hours.
Over at Etihad, cabin cleaning manager Anthony Foreman boasts the airline's cleaning product is top notch. "The product we use is both a cleaner and a disinfectant," he says in Etihad's YouTube video. "It's approved by the Department of Health, and is 99.99 per cent effective on all bacteria, germs and viruses. This includes COVID-19."
A Thai Airways' video flashes a series of key words "PROTECT", "AVOID", "WIPE", "BLOCK", "REDUCE", "PREVENT", "WASH", "CLEAN", "DEEP CLEANING 36 CONTACT SPOTS", "MASKS AND GLOVES".
Its policy changes have seen another casualty of the coronavirus crisis - the airline's hot towel service - with Thai Airways replacing them with disposable towelettes. It has also ditched its on-board pillow and blanket service in response to hygiene concerns.
And Qatar Airways has released a series of videos focusing on various aspects of flight hygiene, from interior air quality to linen laundry measures.
Meanwhile, Virgin Australia has turned to a new cleaning chemical never before used in Australia to add an extra hygiene defence for passengers.
The "Australian-first cleaning innovation" is a chemical 12 months in the making, and will provide an invisible biostatic barrier on all surfaces it's sprayed on.
"The health and safety of our passengers and crew is always our top priority," Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah said in a message emailed to customers.
"While the overall risk in Australia of contracting COVID-19 in the community remains low, we're taking a number of steps to enhance your protection on our flights.
"Our aircraft are cleaned at a minimum every 24 hours, which includes the use of an antibacterial, antimicrobial cleaning product that reduces the risk of harmful viruses, moulds, fungus, algae and any other possible harmful pathogenic bacteria."
Budget airline AirAsia this week sent a mass email to customers detailing its six-step cleaning procedures, and released a video highlighting how to stay clean and travel safely while travelling.
Last week, Qantas was ordered to improve how it cleans its aircraft after a SafeWork NSW report revealed cleaners had been seen wiping tray tables and other surfaces with the same cloth and handling items such as used tissues without proper equipment.
SafeWork NSW gave Qantas a March 30 deadline to develop a "safe system of work" for cleaners and to work with a hygiene and infection control expert to minimise risk of infectious diseases.