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Macron: ‘Too early to say’ if summer holidays possible

French President Emmanuel Macron has said it is “too early to say” if summer holidays abroad will be possible this year, as airlines warn that enforcing social distancing on planes could see ticket prices soar by up to 54%.

“It is too early to say if we will be able to have holidays [and] we will only know this at the beginning of June, “ he said, during a television interview.

There will be no “letting up” and no immediate “return to normal” - even in so-called “green zones” - after confinement is lifted on May 11, Mr Macron also said this week.

The French public should also continue to expect “constraints on long journeys, and continued checks” for which “the government will issue [further] rules [soon]”, he said during a defence council meeting last week.

He said: “We will limit major international travel, even during the summer holidays. We will stay among Europeans, and we may need to reduce it even more. There are restrictions, and that is to be expected. We have not won the battle against the virus. It is still there, we have just slowed it down.”

The President said that he did “not want to go backwards after three weeks”, and be forced to “shut down” entire parts of the public’s daily life once more.

Plane ticket cost to rise by ‘up to 54%’

The comments come as international travel federation IATA (International Air Transport Association) - which comprises 290 member airlines - announced yesterday (Tuesday May 5) that plane tickets could rise by as much as 54% if social distancing measures are required on aircraft.

In a statement, it said that measures such as removing the middle seat on planes would see the maximum occupation of a plane drop “by 62%, well below the viability threshold [of a flight] of 77%”.

Plane ticket prices could “rise by 43 to 54%, depending on region, just to cover costs”.

IATA has instead called for passengers to be required to wear masks when travelling, and for further health precautions to be put in place “temporarily, when air travel restarts”.

IATA is also calling for temperature checks on planes, no-contact boarding procedures, a limit on movement during the flight, “simplified” food on board, and more frequent and in-depth cleaning of cabins.

It also suggested that measures such as “an eventual vaccine, an ‘immunity passport’ and a wide scale, easy-to-do Covid-19 test’ would help in the long-term.

The news comes as low-cost airline Ryanair said that it would run a “skeleton service only” until at least July, and cut 3,000 jobs.

Airline boss Michael O’Leary also said: “Taking out the middle seat in an aircraft achieves no social distancing. There’s less than two feet between the aisle and the window seats.”

Mr O’Leary echoed IATA’s calls for temperature checks at the airport, instead.


IATA: ‘Low risk of spreading the virus on planes’

IATA also said that there was a “low risk” of spreading the virus on-board.

The federation said that it had examined cases of 1,100 passengers who had been confirmed as infected with Covid-19 after taking a plane journey.

According to IATA, there were no cases found of people having spread the virus through the 100,000 other passengers on the same planes, and only two potential cases were detected amongst the cabin crew.

There are several “plausible reasons” for this lack of spread, it suggested.

In a statement, it said: “Passengers are looking straight ahead, with little interaction face to face; the seats act as a barrier; the air ventilation is done from the ceiling to the floor, reducing possible spread towards the front or the back of the cabin...and on newer planes, the [air] filters are of equivalent quality to an operating theatre.”

The federation added that discussions were ongoing between the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), in collaboration with IATA, and the Airports Council International (ACI) to decide on the measures that will eventually be put in place when air travel resumes.

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