Virgin Australia’s chief executive has reassured passengers that all the airline’s aircraft are equipped with face masks and hand sanitisers, in light of coronavirus fears.
In an email to customers obtained by The Australian Financial Review, Paul Scurrah said all planes were cleaned every 24 hours with antibacterial products and that cabin crew have been trained in “cough etiquette”.
The message comes weeks after rival Qantas was criticised by the NSW safety watchdog for having cleaning standards so poor they could put passengers at risk of coronavirus.
Scurrah said, “To date, there has been no confirmed in-flight transmission of COVID-19 anywhere in the world.
“Despite this, it [is] important you’re aware that we maintain the highest hygiene and cleaning practices on our aircraft and on the ground.”
The note added the airline has also fitted aircraft with ‘high-efficiency particulate air’ filters designed to keep air sterile.
“We’re ensuring our crew maintain high hygiene standards in the cabin, including practising proper hand sanitising procedures and cough etiquette,” Scurrah said.
“All our flights are equipped with hand sanitiser and face masks, and if any guest presents as unwell or with flu-like symptoms on one of our flights, they’ll be provided with a face mask and hand sanitiser, and where possible, moved away from other passengers.”
Two weeks ago, the SMH obtained a copy of a Qantas hygiene inspection that noted how cleaners were wiping tray tables without disinfectant and performing tasks such as handling soiled nappies and dirty tissues without wearing “protective equipment” for “the majority of these tasks”.
SafeWork NSW has issued Qantas with an “improvement notice” and ordered the airline to develop a new system specifically to deal with COVID-19.
Qantas strongly rebutted the findings, saying in a statement, “All of our Fleet Presentation teams are provided with personal protective equipment for cleaning the aircraft and for more hazardous items, we have additional equipment such as masks and safety suits.”
The company added it was considering appealing the notice.