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An SAS plane. Photo: SAS
Masks will be mandatory for all passengers over the age of six from the moment they board the aircraft until the moment they disembark at their destination, SAS said in a press release on Wednesday.
“The measures aimed to prevent the spread of coronavirus together with clean and dry air onboard makes flying a safe means of transportation,” Mattias Hedrén, the airline's vice president in charge of safety and security, said in a press release.
“Many people in Scandinavia are completely dependent on SAS and air travel. They can rest assured we are taking all aspects concerning health and safety extremely seriously.”
On Thursday, Norwegian followed up with its own announcement, saying it would begin to require masks on all flights from May 17.
“It is important for us that our customers, who are currently dependent on being able to fly, feel safe on board with us,” said Andreas Hjørnholm.
“That is why we have introduced and will also continuously introduce new routines and measures that will help to reduce the risk of infection on board even further than it already is.”
The new requirement was one of a list of measures brought in by SAS, which the airline said it believed meant that passengers could fly without a serious risk of infection.
It said that studies indicated that only “an extremely small number” of coronavirus infections could be traced to air travel.
The airline accompanied the announcement with posts on social media, connecting the new guidelines to a history of safety-consciousness.
As well as making masks mandatory for all passengers over the age of six years old, the airline said it would also now clean and disinfecting aircraft “in accordance with new procedures adapted to the extraordinary situation”.
It has changed boarding procedures so that passengers with seats at the rear of the aircraft board first. This will mean that no one will have to pass other passengers to get to their seats.
It has removed all loose items, such as magazines in the seat pockets, pillows, blankets and trays. It has stopped food and drinks service on board to reduce contact between passengers and crew. And it has limited luggage to one item per passenger.
Norwegian said that as well as masks, the airline would try to put passengers as far apart as possible away from each other on the aircraft.
SAS said it was likely to make further changes to its procedures over the coming weeks, as governments bring in new guidelines for flights as they gradually lift travel bans.
As many countries require protective face masks to be worn at airports and on public transport, the airline asked passengers o make they had enough face masks for their entire trip, and also to bring their own supplies of hand sanitiser.