As people around the world fear possible impacts of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the airline industry is taking a big hit due to a dramatic decrease in demand for travel. Airlines are cancelling flights or reducing frequencies, while they also have to address operational challenges such as aircraft cleaning. 

Within the last few days we have seen airlines ranging from British Airways and Singapore Airlines to Finnair and Qantas adjust their traffic and resourcing due to impacts of the coronavirus. Lufthansa is grounding 150 planes and Cathay Pacific has parked half of its fleet in Hong Kong. The most dramatic actions are currently linked to China and Italy, but an overall softening of demand is challenging most airlines.

While airlines do their best to reduce costs and cut their losses as best as they can, they are also faced with operational challenges. In an effort to fight the virus, airlines are turning to some of the world’s hardest hitting disinfectants, spraying cabins and implementing hospital grade sterilization procedures. Seats, floors, armrests, tray tables, overhead luggage bins, walls, lavatories, galleys and dividing curtains all receive the full disinfection treatment, and air filters are replaced. We find these efforts reassuring and somewhat fascinating to observe, as illustrated in the below videos from Thai Airways and Qatar Airways.