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Skytrax Bestows Four-Star COVID-19 Safety Ratings to Two Airlines

The agency that rates airlines annually on several factors is now extending their services to how carriers are handling pandemic conditions. Skytrax announced two airlines have received their first COVID-19 Safety Ratings: British Airways and Lufthansa.

Every year, international air carriers wait with anticipation on the Skytrax Ratings, as they are one of the premier customer experience awards in the industry. Now, the group known for giving star ratings to airlines is extending their services to a new area: COVID-19 safety. Skytrax announced their first four-star COVID-19 safety ratings for to two European carriers: British Airways and Lufthansa.

COVID-19 Safety Ratings Based on IATA, ICAO and WHO Recommendations

According to Skytrax, their latest service evaluates “airport and onboard standards, to determine how effectively COVID-19 enhanced systems and procedures are performing.” The framework is based on the IATA Health Safety Standards Checklist, ICAO CART Take-off guidance, and recommendations from the World Health Organization.

Both British Airways and Lufthansa were given four-star reviews by Skytrax, one star short of their highest rating. British Airways earned their four-star rating based on their operations at Terminal 5 of London Heathrow Airport (LHR), while Lufthansa was judged on their customer experience at Terminal 1 of Frankfurt Airport (FRA).

To earn a four-star rating, Skytrax says airlines must maintain “good airport processing standards that include some elements of contactless technology, customer handling, and social distancing protocols for check-in, boarding, and arrival.” Much like their other ratings, the group looks at all parts of the customer experience, including lounges, onboard cleanliness, cabin presentation, and how in-flight service has adapted to accepted COVID-19 standards.

In determining cleanliness, Skytrax used ATP testing to measure surface contamination on high-touch surfaces at the airport and in the aircraft. Although the tests do not detect if the COVID-19 virus was present, it can determine if the virus was there based on biological residues.

“We see it as important to introduce reality and accuracy by providing COVID-19 airline safety ratings based on actual travel experience and assessment,” said Edward Plaisted of Skytrax in a statement. “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.”

New Ratings Come as COVID-19 Research on Aircraft is Disputed

While the COVID-19 ratings are part of Skytrax “Travel Safely” program, the new ratings system comes as researchers are questioning the research done on how the virus is spread on aircraft. While airlines have commissioned work to suggest air ventilation systems and face mask usage reduces the chances of contracting the novel Coronavirus on a flight, one MIT professor suggests that the tests are limited and do not reflect how actual humans interact on an aircraft.

Feature image courtesy: Skytrax

OWdevotee November 19, 2020

Skytrax is not an ‘agency’ it’s a for-profit corporation that shills bogus ratings to airlines willing to cough up $$$ for useless bragging rights.

talkandfly November 19, 2020

Antigen testing is a tool for detection. It is not 100% in detecting asymptomatic carriers. If it were, than nobody in the West Wing or the Senate would be positive or in quarantine. So I fully agree with reliable testing as a valuable tool but at this time, but, only distancing, masking and isolation of known contacts will actually prevent disease transmission. In the absence of any other preventative measures, that's all need we've got.

sfoeuroflyer November 18, 2020

What matters now is getting flights going again. We have enough technology to do quick antigen tests, which although not perfect are better than masks. We DONT need regulations. What we need is acceptance by government of the programs that the airlines want to start. It is government that is standing in the way....and that means not only US governmental entities but foreign as well. Everyone is looking for perfection. That does NOT exist. If you want perfection, stay at home with your doors locked. An antigen test would improve things a lot. And also, the claim by dvs7310 that the "US has bungled it" plainly means that news has not been followed. Europe is much worse than the US...all over: UK, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland etc. All have statistics far worse than the US.

FEasy November 12, 2020

Everyone knows Covid is spread via the airways :)

psusaver November 12, 2020

Also I am very positive that the headline could have been written in a different manner that indicates that the audit was conducted only on European airlines as of now.