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Low Transmission Risk on Board Aircraft

IATA's director general and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac: "In the immediate term, our aim is to make the cabin environment even safer with effective measures so that passengers and crew can return to travel with confidence." 

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) upholds the use of middle seats in passenger aircraft as it stated that evidence, although limited, suggests that the risk of virus transmission on board aircraft is low even without special measures. It cited the following information:

  • Contact tracing for a flight from China to Canada with a symptomatic COVID-19 passenger revealed no onboard transmission

  • Contact tracing for a flight between China and the US with 12 symptomatic COVID-19 passengers revealed no onboard transmission

  • Communication with IATA member airlines indicates similar results:

- An IATA informal survey of 18 major airlines identified, during January-March 2020, only three episodes of suspected in-flight transmission of COVID-19, all from passengers to crew. A further four episodes were reports of apparent transmission from pilot to pilot, which could have been in-flight or before/after (including layover). There were no instances of suspected passenger-to-passenger transmission.

- A detailed IATA examination of contact tracing of 1,100 passengers (January to March 2020) who were confirmed for COVID-19 after air travel revealed no secondary transmission among the more than 100,000 passengers in the same group of flight. Just two possible cases were found amongst crew members.


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