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For the past 12 years, the global aviation industry has been hit by many life threatening health scares such as SARS, avian flu and the current swine flu. This, according to IATA has come at the worst time, when the industry is faced with a $4.7 billion loss.

It is due to this that carriers are doing all they can to reassure passengers that even though the WHO has not banned air travel, that it is still safe to travel by air. The spokesperson of IATA, Mr. Tony Concil announced that the industry is now readily prepared, after learning the hard way from prior epidemics such as the 1997 & 2004 avian flu outbreak and the 2003 SARS. It is due to the enhanced communication regarding the progress of swine flu that passengers are not as hysterical as seen in previous cases.

Continental Airlines has reduced its capacity to Mexico by 40%, while Air Canada has suspended all flights to Mexico till June 1. Argentina, Ecuador and Cuba have equally suspended all flights there. On Saturday, Chinese official news agency announced that all flights to Shanghai from Mexico have also been suspended.

Cabin crews in America airlines have been issued with medical kits, British airways is issuing face masks to passengers, Lufthansa has put a doctor aboard all flights to Mexico, and Alaska Airways is getting rid of all pillows and blankets from planes. Asia Based Cathay Pacific has reversed its previous decision and has now allowed crew members to put on face works while at work.

The industry has however not been hit seriously as seen in previous cases as in the case of SARS in Asia. But the CEO of IATA, Mr. Giovanni Bisignani still maintained last week that the swine flu outbreak could never have come at a worse time – at such a tough economic downturn.

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