British Airways and Lufthansa have become the world’s first airlines to gain a ‘Covid-19 Airline Safety Rating’ from Skytrax.
The respected UK-based air transport rating agency says both airlines have achieved a four-star rating based on ‘detailed investigation and analysis of the effectiveness and consistency of measures they have put in place to ensure that their Covid-19 safety and hygiene measures are the highest standards’.
The Covid-19 rating, which goes up to five stars, covers ‘all potential customer risk and concern elements across the airport and onboard environment’.
British Airways has been given a four-star Covid-19 Airline Safety Rating from Skytrax
For their assessments, British Airways’ airport standards were based on its operations at Terminal 5 at London Heathrow Airport, and for Lufthansa on Terminal 1 at Frankfurt Airport.
According to Skytrax, the audit analysis incorporates relevant areas from the International Air Transport Association Health Safety Standards Checklist, the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s Cart Take-off guidance and World Health Organisation recommendations.
It explains that to gain a four-star rating an airline must display ‘good airport processing standards that include some elements of contactless technology, customer handling, and social distancing protocols for check-in, boarding and arrival’.
Skytrax adds that the four-star rating recognises that airline lounges ‘have good cleanliness, which has been validated visually and supported with ATP testing [surface cleanliness analysis], and there are reasonable measures in place that facilitate social distancing, and safe delivery systems for food and beverages’.
It also explains that on a four-star airline ‘onboard cleanliness and cabin presentation is at a good quality level, which may use techniques for UV sanitisation, and mass disinfectant treatments which are scientifically evaluated’ and that ‘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 its Covid-19 audit analysis, Skytrax says it uses ATP testing to measure surface contamination across the high-touch areas in the airport and onboard environment.
Lufthansa has received a four-star Covid-19 rating based on operations at Frankfurt Airport’s Terminal 1
It explains: ‘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.’
Skytrax says that with its audit teams having to evaluate a variety of flights to assess each airline’s standards, 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.
After Covid-19 audits on European airlines, the rating agency intends to cover airlines in the Middle East and South America and expects later this year to start in Asia and North America.
Edward Plaisted of Skytrax said: ‘We see it as important to introduce reality and accuracy by providing Covid-19 airline safety ratings based on actual travel experience and assessment.
We see it as important to introduce reality and accuracy by providing Covid-19 airline safety ratings based on actual travel experience and assessment
Edward Plaisted of Skytrax
‘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 Airways and Lufthansa on achieving this commendable four-star Covid-19 rating.’
Carolina Martinoli, British Airways’ Director of Brand and Customer Experience, said: ‘Safety is at the heart of everything we do at British Airways, so we are really pleased to see that the changes we have made to our customer experience have been recognised by Skytrax, with a certified four-star Covid-19 safety rating.
‘As we continue to navigate our way through this crisis, we will work with our team of experts to inform every decision we make to look after the safety and wellbeing of our customers and staff.’
Since August, Skytrax has also been similarly assessing airports on their coronavirus safety measures.
So far, it has assessed 17 airports across Europe with Rome Fiumicino Airport the first to be awarded five stars.
Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Birmingham airports have all been awarded three stars.