British Airways and Lufthansa have become the first airlines in the world to be given a COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating by Skytrax, the international air transport rating agency. The COVID-19 Airline Safety Ratings are part of the Skytrax Travel Safely programme.
Both airlines have achieved the 4-Star COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating, based on investigation and analysis of the effectiveness and consistency of measures they have put in place to ensure that their viral safety and hygiene measures are the highest standard. The rating covers potential customer risk and concern elements across the airport and aircraft cabin environment.
British Airways’ airport standards are based on their operations at Terminal 5, London Heathrow Airport, and for Lufthansa it is based on Terminal 1 at Frankfurt Airport.
The audit analysis incorporates relevant areas from the IATA Health Safety Standards Checklist, ICAO CART Take-off guidance, and WHO recommendations.
Edward Plaisted, CEO of Skytrax stated: “We see it as important to introduce reality and accuracy by providing COVID-19 airline safety ratings based on actual travel experience and assessment. Airlines are in the midst of the most challenging time in their history, and encouraging customers back onto flights involves not only changes to PCR testing, quarantine and country travel policies, but also in being able to demonstrate the necessary level of assurance for their COVID-19 measures through independent and professional assessment. We congratulate British and Lufthansa on achieving this commendable 4-Star COVID-19 Rating.”
T1 at Frankfurt Airport during COVID-19
The 4-Star COVID-19 Airline Safety Rating recognises good airport processing standards that include some elements of contactless technology, customer handling, and social distancing protocols for check-in, boarding, and arrival. Airline lounge cleanliness has been validated visually and supported with ATP testing, with checks to ensure there are reasonable measures in place that facilitate social distancing, and safe delivery systems for food and beverages.
To attain four stars, cleanliness and cabin presentation onboard aircraft must be at a good quality level, which may involve the use of techniques for UV sanitisation, and mass disinfectant treatments which are scientifically evaluated. Most service systems for catering are adapted for COVID-19 times, with some reduced contact delivery and enhanced food safety measures for meal presentation.
As part of the COVID-19 audit analysis, Skytrax uses ATP testing to measure surface contamination across the high-touch areas in the airport and onboard environment. Contact surface areas are tested to analyse any variance in surface contamination levels. ATP systems do not detect viruses directly; however COVID-19 infected material that contains biological residues will be detected by an ATP system.
T5 at Heathrow Airport during COVID-19
Skytrax’s audit teams evaluated a variety of flights to assess each airline’s standards, so the roll-out of the COVID-19 Airline Safety Ratings is being carried out according to travel restrictions and border openings of countries around the world. Following COVID-19 audits on European airlines, Skytrax is covering airlines in the Middle East and South America, and expects to start in Asia and North America later this year.