CJI Asia: What business aviation needs to restart after Covid-19


Business aviation depends on two prerequisites before the sector can fully restart after Covid-19, Simon May, of Flightcare Global, told the panel Aviation Medicine in The Age of Covid. Those were: governments to allow passenger travel between countries and regions and renewed passenger confidence that air travel is safe.

A good starting point was to realise that both a vaccine and herd immunity against the virus are a long way off, he said. “So, if you want to get the industry moving, you have to think about how to mitigate the risks. No single measure will result in an acceptable risk reduction – it will be a combination of approaches used to mitigate risk.”

May suggested a range of measures, including mask wearing, social distancing and advanced contact tracing, could reduce the need for quarantine. The importance of reducing the quarantine period was revealed by recent research from International Air Transport Association (IATA). More than 80% of travellers would avoid journeying to a country that required a 14-day quarantine period,  it revealed.

But the risk of contracting Covid-19 on a flight is very low, said May. Since the start of the pandemic IATA research identified 44 cases among 1,2bn passengers. Most of the cases happened before wearing masks or biosecurity measures were put in place. “Even if 90% of cases were unreported, the risk from air travel remains very low at one in 2.7m,” said May. The risk was even lower in private aviation, he added.

May attributed the high safety rate to airflow and cabin design, mask wearing, social distancing at airports, no touch procedures, revised boarding procedures and less crew/passenger interaction.

Leisure and private aviation were likely to lead the widespread recovery in business travel. But once private aviation ramps up, Covid-19 was not the only health risk linked to air travel, May warned.

“There’s more health risk around the corner. We will see an increase in pre-flight and in-flight medical conditions, as people start to travel again. There will be pent-up demand for medical tourism, which will lead to an increase in medical events.”

Meanwhile, Corporate Jet Investor Asia 2020 took place on Tuesday October 13th and Wednesday October 14th. More information about the online event is available here.