Airlines around the world are unleashing a war on germs, battling to better each other with intense cleaning policies in a bid to reassure passengers that flying amid the global coronavirus pandemic is still safe.
Today, Virgin Australia has introduced a new cleaning chemical never before used in Australia, that the airline says will be rolled out across all their flights, lounges and clubs network-wide to add an extra hygiene defence for passengers.
Dubbed the DuroPax, the “Australian-first cleaning innovation” is a chemical 12 months in the making, and will provide an invisible biostatic barrier on all surfaces it’s sprayed on.
According to the airline, which has had to cancel all routes to Hong Kong amid the virus outbreak, the spray chemical will reduce risk of exposure for passengers and crew to a range of harmful viruses and bacteria – including, potentially, the COVID-19 strain.
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The chemical works by being sprayed on to surfaces during the cleaning process, creating a barrier for a period of 48 hours.
Virgin Australia general manager product and customer experience Sarah Adam said that while all Virgin Australia aircraft undergo a rigorous nightly cleaning process, the new cleaner had proven results lowering surface bacterial levels over a 48-hour period not previously seen with any other airline-approved cleaners used by the carrier.
“In the current climate we know that aircraft cleanliness is of utmost importance for guests so we hope this new product will put travellers at ease,” she said.
Virgin Australia isn’t the only airline to spruik new cleaning measures amid the coronavirus outbreak.
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Other airlines including Emirates, Etihad, Qatar and Thai Airways have all released a series of promotional videos on social media showing off their hygiene measures.
Set to triumphant soundtracks, the airline cleaners whisk through the cabin wearing masks and protective gear, detailing how they complete a deep-clean of an aircraft.
“Our cabins are the cleanest in the skies,” Emirates declares in a YouTube video detailing its daily deep-cleaning procedures. It says any aircraft with a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus undergoes enhanced cleaning protocols lasting up to eight hours.
Over at Etihad, cabin cleaning manager Anthony Foreman boasts the airline’s cleaning product is top notch.
“The product we use is both a cleaner and a disinfectant,” he says in Etihad’s YouTube video. “It’s approved by the Department of Health, and is 99.99 per cent effective on all bacteria, germs and viruses. This includes COVID-19.”
A Thai Airways’ video flashes a series of key words “PROTECT”, “AVOID”, “WIPE”, “BLOCK”, “REDUCE”, “PREVENT”, “WASH”, “CLEAN”, “DEEP CLEANING 36 CONTACT SPOTS”, “MASKS AND GLOVES”.
In addition to increased cleaning, Thai Airways has also ditched its on-board pillow and blanket service in response to hygiene concerns.
Qatar Airways has released a series of videos focusing on various aspects as flight hygiene, from interior air quality to linen laundry measures.
Budget airline AirAsia this week sent a mass email to customers detailing its six-step cleaning procedures, and released a video highlighting how to stay clean and safe while travelling.
Last week, Qantas was ordered to improve how it cleans its aircraft after a SafeWork NSW report revealed cleaners had been seen wiping tray tables and other surfaces with the same cloth and handling items such as used tissues without proper equipment.
SafeWork NSW gave Qantas a March 30 deadline to develop a “safe system of work” for cleaners and to work with a hygiene and infection control expert to minimise risk of infectious diseases.