3 Links I Love: Just How Empty Those Planes are, Virgin Australia on the Brink, Delta Clean

American, Links I Love

This week’s featured link

Ethics of Airline Bailouts in Spotlight With Virgin-Qantas FeudBloomberg
Quite the brawl going on down under. Virgin Australia wants the government to bail it out. Qantas sees blood in the water and wants no help. There has been talk of letting the airline fail and then having a new airline created. This puts the government in quite the position.

Image of the Week: I got my hands on American’s departing load factors from LAX Wednesday and sadly, this isn’t an April Fools joke. That Albuquerque flight had 1 passenger onboard. Note that excluding non-revenue passengers, a mere 8.3% of seats were filled across 103 flights.

Two for the road

‘Delta Clean’ delivers new standard of airline cleanliness, now and alwaysDelta News Hub
I don’t know why, but I find it really amusing that we are now in a world where it makes sense to brand the fact that you clean your airplanes. Good on Delta for stepping things up, but I do wonder what the media coverage looks like when it is reported that someone got sick on a Delta airplane.

A Couple Drove 5,000 KM to Yukon to Escape Coronavirus. Locals Were FuriousVice
People are strange. I love how this couple from Quebec got it in their heads that the way to save themselves would be to drive across the country and then fly up to this tiny native town where they may very well freeze to death. They were also very clearly only thinking about themselves here, and they got smacked back to reality pretty quick upon arrival.

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22 comments on “3 Links I Love: Just How Empty Those Planes are, Virgin Australia on the Brink, Delta Clean

  1. Could you write an article on eventual feasibility of testing all passengers boarding a flight. It could make financial sense as cost of test is around $50 and tests can be now done in 15 minutes. Thanks.

    Khush Mittal

    1. I don’t have any details on feasibility, but I’d assume it is not high.
      There are enough problems getting tests in the hands of those who have legitimate needs. Airlines could certainly do temperature scanning and things like that, but a virus test is a whole different level of difficulty.

      1. You are right about availability of tests right now, but eventually case numbers will go down, as in China and elsewhere, and abundant testing ability should become available for non-clinical settings. The 15 minute test from Abbott is a relatively simple test that can be done with minimal training. Incidentally, airline passenger testing could also serve as a surveillance tool for the government to identify any breakout hots pots early.

        1. Yes, but the Abbot testing equipment, as I understand it, processes one test in about 15 minutes. If you want to test a fully loaded 737, you either need lots of machines to run tests in parallel or it takes a really long time if you run them sequentially. That test is really designed for point-of-care (urgent care or ER) style settings where the treating physician needs a quick answer for an individual patient to make treatment decisions.

          1. You have a good point Oliver. The company can probably supply the equipments free given the volumes that will be generated. Alternatively, screening can be done a few days earlier in drive through type of setups and tested on larger machines.

            1. Also, what do you test for? Just corona? Colds, flu, HIV? What results would determine fitness for travel?

            2. You test just for Corona. Other infections are not as serious. Mortality from Coronavirus is 10 to 20 times that of flu.

            3. Just because they may not be infected, doesn’t stop an individual from carrying the virus on them or their belongings. Just going to the airport and mixing with other people increases the chances of that happening.

            4. Potentially, you can have separate lines and area at the airport for individuals that have been tested negative to protect them. Airlines could also set aside portions of the plane for such individuals if they do not wish to do this for the entire plane.

  2. Everything at Delta is branded!

    Seriously though, it’s a simple strategy. After 9/11, it took convincing people flying was safe/secure to get them back in the air.

    Same thing today, only safe=clean=hygienic.

    1. I understand the marketing behind Delta’s campaign, but you will need to convince a good percent of the public that being outside is safe after being told repeatedly to “stay home” for months. This is far different than say 9/11 in that the former was a singular event while this viral outbreak will burn through over the course of a year or more & who knows what impact will linger in the American psychy post virus.

  3. I recall something similar to the “fogging” mentioned in the Delta cleaning article happening years ago on an international flight from ATL to EZE. After the doors to the plane were closed, the flight attendants made an announcement that disinfectant was required for international flights (or possibly just to international flights to Argentina) and that it was safe to breathe, then quickly walked down the aisles spraying some aerosol disinfectant into the air. That was a cursory fogging at best, just the flight attendants going through the motions as quickly as possible, but I assume they are more diligent about it now.

    1. Back in the day (like 20 years ago), every time we landed in New Zealand on a flight, it was sprayed with insecticide before we could get off.

  4. I couldn’t help but notice that not every employee in the video is using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when disinfecting surfaces, the majority are, but not all. It seems odd that the PR and legal teams missed that. I can’t help but wonder if a future comedy skit will show a parody of this with a tagline akin to “Delta, now we actually clean our planes”! I also wonder how long it will be before people are taking pictures of grime on Delta aircraft with the hashtag #Deltaclean. I understand what they are trying to do but it seems like this could backfire on Delta in a variety ways.

    I also can’t help but wonder what impact thoroughly disinfecting every aircraft will have on turn times and on-time performance. They mention being known for their on-time performance and it seems that either additional labor will be needed to quickly disinfect aircraft or they may either end up sacrificing the new cleanliness standard to keep their on-time performance record.

    I think the biggest issue is that their timing is off. Right now I think the majority of people are no where close to even considering flying. It seems like at best this campaign would be more fitting in a month or two when people MIGHT actually start to consider flying again.

    1. With such drastic cuts to the number of flights, they can substantially increase the amount of ground time for cleaning without an adverse impact to on time performance. For example, instead of hourly service from ATL to LGA, make it every two hours. That should give the necessary time for additional cleaning.

  5. The local context here in Australia that makes the Virgin situation especially interesting is that the government repeatedly uses the phrase “temporarily putting the economy in hibernation” when discussing the current lockdown measures to try to reassure Australians and our businesses that the government will see us through the crisis and out the other side.

    Yes, Virgin has had trouble for years but was finally and clearly on the right path when Covid hit. To now let one of the most visible brands in Australia fail and leave an effective monopoly in Australian aviation certainly won’t instil much confidence that the government can deliver on its promise to successfully “hibernate” the economy.

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