From 3 May, wearing a face mask inside the cabin of planes of Belgium’s airline Brussels Airlines will no longer be mandatory, according to a corporate press release.
“This extends the experience at the airport, where the mask has not been mandatory for some time, to the plane itself,” a spokesperson for Brussels Airlines told Belga News Agency.
According to the airline, passengers are less likely to get sick inside the aeroplane than in the terminal.
“The plane has always been a place where the risk of infection is very low, thanks to advanced air filtering systems,” the spokesperson insists.
However, some doctors have noted that the robust HEPA filtration systems onboard aircraft only offer protection while the engines of the aircraft are running. When sitting on the tarmac, boarding and refuelling, the aircraft offered no protection against Covid-19 infection.
Nevertheless, many major airlines are now permitting passengers to travel without masks. Major airline chiefs have expressed their doubts over the effectiveness of masks in aircraft.
Airlines ditch mandatory masks en-masse
Most major U.S airlines have dropped mandatory face masks. United Airlines, Delta, American Airlines, Southwest, JetBlue, Frontier, Spirit and others all dropped their requirements in April.
European airlines have been more cautious to ditch face masks. Most airlines allow for the optional wearing of masks, so long as the destination country does not legally require its wearing for the duration of the flight.
British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, EasyJet, KLM, Norwegian, Icelandair, and others have also decided to drop mandatory face masks.
In Belgium, low-cost charter airline TUI was the first to ditch compulsory face masks. Now, Belgium’s flagship airline has followed suit. Brussels Airlines says that the move is “a step closer to a ‘normal’ travel experience after the pandemic.”
While the mask may no longer be necessary for flights out of Belgium, it is often still required in foreign airports. The airline allows passengers to check the covid policies of their destination countries before travelling.