America’s air traffic remains far more congested than Europe

Amid the pandemic, the USA has continued to allow flights to be in service. At present, thousands of flights that can still be tracked flying across the country.

European countries like Italy do not have a single aeroplane that can be detected on tracking websites. The USA currently has the highest death rate in the world. There have been questions raised on whether the US should consider adopting a European strategy to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Italy, Spain and the UK have been significantly hit by the virus in Europe. The UK surpassed Italy yesterday to have the highest count in Europe from Covid-19 deaths.

Italy had acted earlier than the UK to shut down all international travel and ordered citizens to not travel to work. UK flights have dropped by 90% with only 700 detected flights in a week. The UK is recently showing signs of improvement since there have been 354 fewer deaths in a previous week to 24th April.

Not all flights in Europe have taken the same measures as each other. Social distancing rules were not applied on an Aer Lingus flight from Belfast to Heathrow earlier this week.

A passenger had complained that no strict social distancing rules were applied. Northern Ireland has 250 recorded deaths from the coronavirus and social distancing rules haven’t been as stringent as Italy or Spain.

The chief executive of Loganair responded that it is impossible to introduce social distancing on aeroplanes because of the recycled air that is caused by the air conditioning systems.

It has been noted that passenger planes in America are also sometimes filled up because other flights have been cancelled – defeating the purpose of trying to contain the virus. It creates a higher possibility of people sitting closer to each other on new flights they have been issued.

This raises the point on why the plane was full in the Aer Lingus flight. There are not many flights that are landing from Belfast to Heathrow at this time. Passenger planes, therefore, will be more full since the selection of planes to choose from are fewer. The average of people who travel in a US domestic flight is around 17 passengers. All airlines in America also require crew members to wear face masks. These same rules weren’t applied from the domestic flight in the UK with Aer Lingus airlines.

America’s internal air traffic remains far busier than Europe’s. If America changes its policy to restrict more flights, the number of coronavirus infections is expected to increase in the short term.

The ratio of planes that are flying in America and Europe doesn’t mean each plane has fully filled seats with passengers. Internal flights in America are not showing the actual amount of people on board these flights.

Regular citizens are travelling less freely after March 2020 due to other restrictions related to work. With other policies put in place to help reduce the spread of Covid-19, the air traffic is not expected to change across America anytime soon.

By Tadhg Ormond

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