With the restart of domestic flight operations at some of the nation’s airports the Federal Government has explained why physical distancing, one of the safety protocols to curb the spread of COVID-19 may not be observed within the aircraft cabins.
According to the authorities, the cabin is considered safer than even the hospital operation theatres, because of the processes the air that is circulated in the cabin goes through.
Also, against the expectations of passengers on likely airfare increases prior to resumption of domestic flights, the government also explained that the non-adherence to physical distancing in the cabins was positively responsible for the ‘affordable’ ticket fares.
The explanation was given by by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, Saturday when he embarked on a simulation return flight to the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport in Kano to assess the level of preparation of the airport for recommencement of flights.
Speaking on why physical distancing may not be necessary inside the airplanes, Sirika said: “Because of the nature of the airplane, the airplane is hygienic enough once you have your mask, you are safe to remain seated on your seat and where possible, we will keep the distance.
“Airplanes are designed in such a way that the ambient air at altitudes is clean. It is not contaminated. The air is dropped in the aircrafts, pressurised and because of pressurization, the temperature of the air goes up to 200 degrees which is twice boiling water and there is no bacteria or virus that can survive it and it is suddenly cooled to about 2 degrees centigrate and then it is passed to a filter”.
“Passing through the filtration system ensures that every single organism is screened and then it is passed to the cabin and once it is passed through the cabin, it comes from the ceiling downwards”.
“So, it is not coming from the cockpit to the rear, it is from the ceiling downwards and it drops on the floor and gets circulated.”
“With this mechanism in place, everything will be safe provided that we are decontaminating the airplane before we enter and decontaminating after we leave and also cleaning all the possible surfaces that one will touch”, he added.
Some passengers who spoke to SunriseNigeria at the airport confessed that their earlier worries about the non-observation of distancing inside the aircraft had been addressed by the Minister’s explanations.
They also agreed that the onus was now on the passengers to take responsibility by observing the other protocols of wearing face masks and washing hands regularly during the course of their travelling.