Coronavirus: All passengers required to wear masks on SIA, SilkAir and Scoot flights

Passengers on flights arriving in Singapore will also undergo a basic health assessment. ST PHOTO: BENJAMIN SEETOR

SINGAPORE - All passengers on Singapore Airlines (SIA), SilkAir and Scoot flights will be required to bring their own mask and wear it throughout the flight.

Passengers of SIA and SilkAir must also observe safe distancing measures when embarking and disembarking from a flight and when queueing to use the lavatory.

These measures, which are in accordance with a Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore directive, will take effect from 11.59pm on Sunday (May 10), SIA said in a statement posted on its website on Saturday evening.

The Straits Times understands that these measures will be in place until further notice.

The International Air Transport Association, the body representing global airlines, recommended on Tuesday the wearing of masks on flights to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Airlines in countries such as Canada, France, Germany, Thailand, the United States and the United Arab Emirates have also required passengers to wear masks or facial coverings during flights.

SIA said on Saturday that passengers on flights arriving in Singapore will also undergo a basic health assessment, including a verbal health declaration and temperature checks, before boarding the aircraft.

Meal services will be suspended on flights within South-east Asia and those servicing China. A bag containing water and refreshments will be provided upon boarding instead.

Meals will be provided on all other flights. Customers who have special meal requirements can choose from a reduced list based on International Air Transport Association guidelines.

These measures are in addition to the existing precautionary measures that SIA and SilkAir have in place "to safeguard the well-being of customers and crew", SIA said in its statement.

One such existing measure is that every SIA and SilkAir aircraft undergoes a thorough cleaning process that includes the use of an approved strong disinfectant to clean all common areas, said the airline.

It added that its aircraft are equipped with high-efficiency particulate air (Hepa) filters, which "effectively filter more than 99.99 per cent of airborne microbes and have a similar performance to those used in hospital operating rooms".

Adjustments to its in-flight services also include the suspension of hot towel service and the removal of menu cards and magazines from the back pockets of seats on all flights.

Cabin crew members and pilots have their temperatures taken before flights and wear masks and goggles, or eye visors, during flights. They do not report for work if they are unwell, SIA said.

SIA and SilkAir have grounded most of their fleet following a plunge in global demand for air travel as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Just 10 out of 200 SIA Group's airplanes are currently taking to the skies with passengers. Others have been deployed for cargo-only services.

A large number of its planes are parked at Changi Airport, while 17 are parked at the Asia Pacific Aircraft Storage facility in the Australian town of Alice Springs, SIA has said earlier.

According to the national carrier's website, which lists its flight schedules from May to June, SIA and SilkAir currently ply a reduced schedule of services to a few cities in South-east Asia; Chongqing and Shanghai in China; Tokyo, Japan; Seoul, South Korea; Frankfurt, Germany; and Zurich, Switzerland; as well as London in the United Kingdom, Sydney in Australia, and Los Angeles in the United States.

On Friday, SIA said it expects to make a full-year net loss for the first time in its 48-year history as the coronavirus pandemic continues to hammer the global aviation sector.

It made the forecast despite "strong results" in the first nine months of the financial year that ended in March 2020, it said in a Singapore Exchange update.

SIA added that a small operating profit is still expected for the full year. The full results for the year will be announced on May 14.

In a separate statement on Saturday, budget carrier Scoot likewise said that all passengers are required to bring their own mask and wear it on flights, in accordance with the CAAS directive.

Noting that it has already implemented precautionary measures since earlier this year, Scoot said that passengers also need to submit a health declaration form before they check in, either at the check-in counters or online. They will receive an SMS notification 24 hours before their flight.

Temperature screening will also be conducted during check-in and passengers found to be having higher than normal temperatures will not be allowed to board.

To limit baggage on board and facilitate security clearance and boarding, the airline has reduced the volume of baggage that passengers can bring on board to 3kg. Any additional baggage can be checked in at no additional cost.

Previously, the airline allowed up to 10kg of cabin baggage in its economy class and 15kg in ScootPlus.

"As Covid-19 continues to pose uncertainties, customers are encouraged to prepare for possible contingencies in their travel plans, including purchasing travel insurance, during this period," said Scoot.

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