Misconceptions About Cabin Air Quality Will Hinder Airline Recovery, Says AAPA

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- "The public have still not got the message that the air in aircraft cabins is probably safer than anywhere else," says Richard Stirland, director general of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) in a statement today.

"As many of our members have reported, and we know by anecdotal evidence, the traveling public have become non-travelers due to the misconception that the chances of acquiring SARS is greater on an aircraft than elsewhere. This is principally as a result of lack of knowledge regarding air circulation in the cabin."

"In reality, as both the airlines and the aircraft manufacturers have stressed, the air in the aircraft cabin is, on average, changed every three minutes. Moreover, the air is a mix of fresh air drawn from outside the aircraft, and air that has passed through very efficient filters, which provide an environment that is as sanitized as a hospital operating theatre. This information has been disseminated widely, but is still not as well known as it should be."

He continued, "What is even less well known, but of equal or even greater importance, is that air supplied to aircraft toilets and galleys is not recirculated even in a filtered form, but is expelled from the aircraft. A further point to stress, which passengers can see for themselves, is that air vents are at the level of overhead stowage bins, extraction is at floor level. Air is thus drawn down, not up, and most importantly, there is no longitudinal flow of air through the cabin. It is vital to get this message across to the public, and indeed to government authorities, otherwise the airlines will be suffering from disastrous load factors long after the epidemic is over. Travel by air does not increase the risk of contracting this infection."

The AAPA is a group of 17 scheduled international airlines based in the Asia-Pacific region. It is the trade association of the region's airlines, created to represent their interests and to provide a forum for all members to exchange information and views on matters of common concern. The 17 members include Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways, Asiana Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airlines, China Airlines, Dragonair, EVA Air, Garuda Indonesia, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Qantas Airways, Royal Brunei Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways International and Vietnam Airlines.

Source: Association of Asia Pacific Airlines