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Ryanair Wins Support of the United Nations in Making Passengers Ask Permission to go to the Toilet

Ryanair Wins Support of the United Nations in Making Passengers Ask Permission to go to the Toilet

A specialized agency of the United Nations that sets standards for the aviation industry has given its support to the low-cost carrier Ryanair who last month announced plans to make passengers ask permission to go the toilet. The plan to restrict access to onboard lavatories is part of Ryanair’s plans to safely restart flights in a COVID-19 world and has now been backed up by guidelines published by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

The ICAO recommendations were published yesterday by the Council’s Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) – a special team established to consider how to safely restart international aviation in a coordinated way. Until now, different countries and even different airlines have set their own Coronavirus response standards.

Photo Credit: Southwest Airlines

Many of the guidelines support previous work published by the European Air Safety Agency (EASA) as well as industry trade body the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general supported the guidance, saying the industry desperately needed national governments to implement the recommendations as quickly as possible.

As well as restricting access to onboard restrooms, the ICAO guidelines also suggest blocking at least one lavatory off for the sole use of cabin crew. Other recommendations include:

  • Limiting or suspending food and beverage service altogether
  • Restricting the amount of hand luggage passengers can bring onboard
  • Increasing the amount of cleaning using recognised disinfectants
  • Making it mandatory for cabin crew and passengers to wear face masks

As for social distancing, ICAO says seating assignments should take into consideration physical distancing measures but only when passenger loads allow for it. Instead, passengers should be asked to remain in their assigned seats and boarding processes should be changed to prevent passengers from passing one another in the aisle.

ICAO even suggest temporary plexiglass screens should separate crew from passengers during the boarding process – they can then be removed once everyone is in their assigned seat and the plane is ready for departure.

“In order to be effective, we need to take a layered and especially a risk-based approach. Measures will be implemented or removed as needed based on the wide-ranging medical and other factors which will be at play,” explained CART Chairperson Ambassador Philippe Bertoux.

In the future, ICAO says rapid COVID-19 screening might be possible but in the meantime supports mass-thermal screening and health declaration forms.

The hope is that a layered series of internationally recognised aviation biosecurity measures will give governments the confidence to reopen borders. Life is starting to return to some of normality in more and more countries – perhaps the aviation industry will follow suit soon.

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