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Swine flu: airline industry on high alert
Monday, 04 May 2009

AS the swine flu outbreak moves in to its first week, airlines and airports globally have issued advisory notices to passengers and have implemented several precautionary measures to contain the spread of the disease.

Qatar Airways has reassured passengers that its modern aircraft have advanced filtration systems which ensure a high level of air quality. The airline is also working closely with local health authorities in Qatar and international organisations to ensure the most practicable precautionary steps are taken.

The carrier also requires that all operating crew wear masks on flights from the United States and has taken additional mandatory measures for all 1 100 flight deck and 3 400 cabin crew to be vaccinated against influenza to limit the risk of contamination to passengers and staff.

Passengers on Qatar Airways’ flights originating from the US are being issued with masks upon boarding and advised to wear them in-flight. The same policy is being enforced on selected connecting flights. If prior to boarding in the US or during transit in Doha, passengers are identified as having flu or fever-like symptoms, they will be referred to a local medical centre to determine their suitability to travel.

British Airways has advised passengers that it is still operating its flights to Mexico. However, should passengers due to travel to Mexico, wish to change their travel, they may rebook to travel on another date in the future or to an alternative British Airways destination.

Passengers currently in Mexico who wish to return early will be allowed to rebook on an earlier flight subject to availability. Customers due to travel to Mexico are urged to contact their local British Airways office or travel agent for further assistance.

Thai Airways has implemented a Crisis Management Operations Centre (CMOC) and is conducting regular deep-clean fumigation onboard flights to and from high risk destinations. The airline has also installed high efficiency air filters in aircraft.

Some airlines have cancelled flights to Mexico. Argentina’s government last week announced that flights to Mexico are suspended and that it will resume on May 4. In Europe TUI, which also owns Thomasfly and First Choice Airways, has stopped all flights to Mexico until May 8. WestJet has announced it is suspending services to Mexico from May 4, but it plan to resume services to three of the destinations on June 20.

Several airports globally as well as Lanseria Airport and OR Tambo are currently making use of thermal body scanners that can check the temperatures of passengers enabling port health officials to point out those with a high fever. One machine is operating at Lanseria and two at OR Tambo International Airport.

By : Travelinfo
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