Aer Lingus said it is reviewing procedures on its Belfast to London flights following an assertion that it was not following any social distancing measures.
Passenger Sean Mallon took photos on a flight to Heathrow on Monday, showing most of the passengers seated against each other.
Almost all of the seats were occupied and there was “no social distancing,” said Mallon.
Aer Lingus has declared safety to be its “top priority” and that any necessary changes will be implemented urgently.
The coronavirus crisis has seen all flights suspended, with the exception of two London services operating from Belfast and Derry airports.
“95% of seats occupied”
Mallon, who was traveling to England for work, said airline staff offered no social distance guidance before or during Monday morning’s flight, and passengers were allowed to take their seats as normal .
“I would say there were around 95% of the seats occupied on the flight,” he told the BBC’s Evening Extra program.
Passengers queued up and boarded the plane as they would have done before the pandemic, he said.
“The queues were at the bottom of the steps and on the tarmac as they were before all that,” he added.
Passengers were not offered hand sanitizers or told of additional safety measures when they boarded the plane, said Mallon.
The only advice they received was a reminder to wash their hands after landing.
In a statement, the airline said: “In light of the surprisingly high charges on Belfast – London Heathrow service this morning and the level of demand for the route, Aer Lingus is reviewing its processes and procedures for operating this service.
“The safety and security of Aer Lingus customers and crew is our top priority and any process changes identified as necessary will be implemented urgently. “
Social distance from the cabin “impossible”
The only other route operating from Northern Ireland is the Logan Air service between Derry City Airport and London Stansted.
In other developments on Monday:
- The leaders of the four main Christian churches in Northern Ireland say that this is not the right time for a return to collective worship
- Economy Minister Diane Dodds Calls for More “National Support” for Higher Education Sector
- One of Northern Ireland’s largest home builders, Hagan Homes, resumes work on eight of its sites
- The reduction of the number of hot offices and alternatives to social separation where this is not possible are among the measures envisaged to allow the reopening of workplaces.
The two benefited from a £ 5.7 million government program to support the remaining NI flights during the pandemic.
Loganair CEO Jonathan Hinkles said conversations were continuing on how to continue after the lockdown, but social distancing on board was impossible, due to:
- The economic cost
- Air conditioning systems in airplanes that recycle air in the cabin, which, according to Hinkles, thwarted the goal of social distancing
Instead, Loganair said it would provide passengers with masks – what other airlines will have to think about.
The European Commission is about to unveil a set of rules for the safe reopening of air travel once the lockdown is completed.
The measures envisaged include mandatory face masks, disinfection of aircraft and requirements for social distancing on aircraft and airports.