An early release article to be published by the Center for Disease Control in November warns of the potential spread of COVID-19 aboard airliners

If you read this website regularly, you already know this. The typical flight aboard an airliner has over 700 potential contact points that lack social distancing. That compares to under 20 for private travel. Now, a preview of an upcoming report from the Center for Disease Control warns of spread on airline flights beyond the oft-used recommended spacing of six feet. The report could push more folks to private jets.

In the report, due for final release in November, the CDC notes, “The latest guidance from the international air travel industry classifies the in-flight transmission risk as very low and recommends only the use of face masks without additional measures to increase physical distance on board, such as blocking the middle seats.”

We conclude that the risk for on-board transmission of SARS-CoV-2 during long flights is real and has the potential to cause COVID-19 clusters of substantial size, even in business class

– Center for Disease Control

It continues, “Our findings challenge these recommendations. Transmission on flight VN54 was clustered in business class, where seats are already more widely spaced than in economy class, and infection spread much further than the existing 2-row or 2 meters rule recommended for COVID-19 prevention on airplanes and other public transport would have captured.”

The CDC adds, “Similar conclusions were reached for SARS-CoV superspreader events on a flight in 2003, in which a high risk for infection was observed for passengers seated farther than 3 rows from the index case. This finding also concurs with transmission patterns observed for influenza virus and is generally in line with the mounting evidence that airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is a major yet underrecognized transmission route.”

The conclusion: “We conclude that the risk for on-board transmission of SARS-CoV-2 during long flights is real and has the potential to cause COVID-19 clusters of substantial size, even in business class–like settings with spacious seating arrangements well beyond the established distance used to define close contact on airplanes. As long as COVID-19 presents a global pandemic threat in the absence of a good point-of-care test, better on-board infection prevention measures and arrival screening procedures are needed to make flying safe.”

Some 72% of Private Jet Card Comparisons’ subscribers cited COVID-19 avoidance as their number one reason to fly by private jet in a recent survey. However, the answer was more tilted to new users of private aviation to existing users by an 87%-to-63% margin.

Jet card providers have been regularly updating various initiatives to prevent the spread of the virus. You can find an overview here.

You can read the full report here.

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