With an alarming number of new coronavirus cases over the past week in large countries on four different continents—the U.S., Brazil, Germany, and India—the possibility of international travel resuming at anywhere near normal levels in 2020 is just about extinguished. Then again, because many countries presently require 14-day self-quarantines for incoming visitors, meetings involving international attendees are almost impossible for the foreseeable future anyway.
In fact, Alexandre de Juniac, director general of International Air Transport Association, which represents 290 airlines and 82 percent of global air traffic, said even before this latest spike in cases that flying between continents is probably going to remain at record-breaking lows through Q4 2020, although he sees a possibility that short-haul flights between EU nations could gain some frequency and demand by late September. More of his insights on the possibilities for resuming international air travel can be found here.
Given that COVID-19 is expected to ebb and flow throughout the population for years, airlines must implement long-term solutions for minimizing the risk of passengers spreading infection while on planes. A few that have come to the fore in recent months include a middle-seat barrier that blends in with the material and upholstery of a plane’s interior; a smaller upper-body barrier between every seat that allows occupancy of the middle seat; and even a new seat configuration that turns the middle seat to face the rear of the plane while using a clear plastic barrier on either side.
Although each of these alterations would take some getting used to among passengers, airlines must try such ideas in order to gain the confidence of potential air travelers—before their financial losses become too great for some of them to survive.