Ryanair is set to ignore the Department for Transport’s (DfT) aviation guidelines when it returns next month. New government guidance was issued last week to protect crew and passengers onboard flights as airlines return to the skies in the wake of coronavirus. The recommendations are designed to reduce interaction and avoid transmission of the virus onboard planes.
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The DfT has suggested airlines “limit duty free or other non-essential product sales on board and accompany these with procedures to minimise the contact between crew and passengers.”
They also suggest carriers “reduce the food and drink service” and reduce “movement of passengers within aircraft.”
The DfT told consumer site Which? that the purpose of limiting trolley services is to reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus by limiting interaction between passengers and cabin crew in line with guidance from European Aviation Safety Agency and the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
Despite this, Ryanair will continue to sell food and drink.
Meanwhile, fellow budget airline, Wizz Air, which resumed flights from London Luton Airport last month, is continuing to offer a full trolley service with passengers able to buy duty-free items and gifts on-board.
This contrasts to the decisions of other major airlines.
Norwegian has confirmed that it will not be offering any catering on board when it resumes flights from the UK on July 1.
British Airways and easyJet have also suspended all onboard sales, with BA handing out complimentary water, snacks, tea and coffee instead of its full trolley service.
Wizz Air has maintained that it is fully compliant with all local and international health guidelines.
An airline spokeswoman told Express.co.uk: “Wizz Air has been leading the industry re-start for almost two months with its stringent health and hygiene measures, ensuring that passengers and crew are protected and that the airline fully meets all local and international health guidelines. Wizz Air’s enhanced hygiene measures ensure the most sanitary conditions on board and reduce any non-essential physical contact.
“For the airline’s onboard services, all products are packaged (including sandwiches which are produced under HACCP regulations) and all payments are encouraged to be contactless. Passengers and crew are required to wear face masks, with crew also required to wear gloves. Onboard magazines have been removed and aircraft are regularly disinfected with an industry-leading fogging process and further disinfected overnight with the same antiviral solution.
“Wizz Air’s number one priority has been and always will be the safety, health and wellbeing of its passengers and crew.”
Ryanair also defended its decision, insisting that passengers would require sustenance.
“We have reduced our inflight service, which will be confined to pre-packed products (bottled water, foil-wrapped food, etc), which many of our customers correctly consider to be essential,” a Ryanair spokesperson told Express.co.uk.
The airline went on to deem the latest guidance from the DfT as “rubbish and “idiotic.”
The government is advising passengers to “check in all baggage including hand luggage and remain seated as much as possible during the flight.”
According to the DfT, limiting hand-luggage will mean fliers can board more rapidly.
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Furthermore, they won’t be obliged to walk up and down aisles in search of overhead locker space, potentially spreading infection.
However, Ryanair is now encouraging customers to pay an extra £6 to £20 per person for its Priority Boarding and select the second cabin bag option, as seen in a Covid-19 safety video posted on its website.
A Ryanair spokeswoman told Express.co.uk: “We are encouraging extra cabin bags because this reduces the risk of Covid-19 compared to the DfT’s idiotic advice to maximise checked-in bags, which pass through eight different sets of hands and significantly increase the risk of Covid-19.
“Which?’s false claim that ‘Ryanair is putting profits before safety’ is – as always – wrong because Ryanair charges more for checked-in bags (which we are actively discouraging) than we do for carry-on.”
The spokeswoman added: “Ryanair will not follow the DfT Covid guidance which is rubbish.
“The DfT are still promoting their useless form filling at arrival airports, which delivers no quarantine benefit whatsoever.
“Thankfully our customers are also ignoring the DfT’s useless guidance.”
Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, said: “It’s incredibly concerning that these airlines would put the health of their passengers and their own crew at risk by ignoring important government safety guidelines.
“It’s essential that airlines take the risks of infection seriously to give passengers the confidence to fly again once the FCO’s ban on non-essential travel is lifted.”
Meanwhile, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has described the DfT guidance to airlines as “a positive next step towards ensuring a safer and more sustainable aviation sector.”
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