Below you can read Croatia Airlines' press release about flight OU411 operating on route Frankfurt-Zagreb, relating to COVID-19 positive passengers.
"By following a strict set of rules and regulations set by European, Croatian and German public health authorities, as well as rules set by aviation authorities, by operating flight OU411 Frankfurt-Zagreb from April 1st to May 10th 2020, Croatia Airlines brought more than 3500 Croatian citizens back home from all around the world. For all those passengers, being potential virus carriers, Croatian Public Health Authority has determined compulsory 14-day self-isolation. Taking into account that the flights were operated in conditions of a global coronavirus pandemic, Croatia Airlines' Crisis Management Office was constantly assessing all potential risks regarding those flights. The estimated loss for operating flights Zagreb-Frankfurt-Zagreb in the period mentioned was 244.000€.
According to diagnostic results, Croatia Airlines can confirm that two pilots from the flight Frankfurt-Zagreb on May 2nd are tested positive for COVID-19, while cabin crew members who were in direct contact with passengers are negative. The presence of coronavirus within flight crew can not be related to passengers on that flight, who were later diagnosed with COVID-19 as well. During the flight, pilots are sitting in the cockpit which is physically isolated from the passenger cabin, and therefore can not be in close physical contact with the passengers before, during, or after the flight.
Furthermore, all COVID-19 positive passengers were workers coming back from Sweeden, and two more passengers from Spain. According to now available results, none of the other passengers nor crew are infected with coronavirus, so it is impossible to find a relation between the infection of pilots and passengers. Therefore it is not possible to state that reason for infection was seating organization nor cabin load factor.
The crew from the mentioned flight was informed about infected passengers as soon as possible, and according to the internal protocol, they were released off their duties for 14 days, with compulsory telephone consultations with their primary care doctor and carrying out other recommendations given by public healthcare authorities. Also, according to the procedures and protocols, flight crew onboard that flight was given compulsory self-isolation as well. Their health is continually monitored, while all needed tests are carried out, having in mind the health of employees as well as passengers.
Also, according to the protocol for situations like this, all documentation (seating chart of possibly infected passenger - row in which he was sitting as well as two rows in front and in the back) about passengers and crew members on the mentioned flight were delivered to epidemiological services of Croatian Institute for Public Healthcare on May 8th 2020.
All Passenger location forms - PLF must be filled and handed to the Airport authorities upon arrival, which according to Croatian Civil Aviation Authority must be stored and archived for 30 days. If authorities ask, as it was the case with flight Frankfurt-Zagreb on May 2nd, the air carrier must deliver data about passengers and crew members. The airport of arrival must also deliver PLF forms to authorities if asked.
Croatia Airlines is carrying out all safety and protection measures since the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic, according to public healthcare authorities' requests and recommendations. During the flight, crew must wear protective gear (mask, gloves) and use disinfection agents. If the need arises, cabin crew must wear protective goggles and protective disposable robes.
According to available research carried out by public healthcare and regulatory authorities, possibility of infection in the aircraft is very small, since the air in the passenger cabin is taken from the atmosphere and is purified by most modern filters, and circulating vertically (from the floor upwards) in the cabin.
It is worth noticing and saying again that the flight crew (captain and first officer) are sitting in the cockpit which is physically separated from the passenger area, and passengers are not in close contact with flight crew neither while boarding or disembarking the aircraft. Close contact of cabin crew with the passengers is also minimal, taking into account that since the beginning of the pandemic, Croatia Airlines suspended serving of food and drinks on all flights. Furthermore, contact of cabin crew with passengers is brought to a minimum, all with the goal of maximum protection od crew and passengers.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the recommendations were published for passengers to wear protective face masks during the flight to protect themselves, the crew, and other passengers. However, the Company decided that wearing face masks or face covers is compulsory for all passengersyand this decision is in action from May 4th.
On Company websites, PLF form is published and all passengers are advised to fill this in and give it to the crew, otherwise, they will fill this form onboard, having in mind that passengers need to bring their own pencils. Also, passengers are asked to check their health status (body temperature, possible symptoms, etc.) before arriving at the airport.
It is important to note that up until May 10th there was no single recommendation about air transport and limiting aircraft seat capacity. Up until then, seating onboard was organized in the way that, if possible, there was a distance between passengers, while 18 seats in the last three rows on board Airbus fleet and 14 seats on Dash 8-Q400 were blocked and assigned for passengers with possible COVID-19 symptoms.
Since May 10th seating arrangement is organized in the way that, if possible (depending on cabin load factor, aircraft configuration, weight and balance procedures, etc.), maximum possible distance is left between the passengers. The last row of seats in the whole fleet is blocked, in addition with one seat in business class onboard Q400 fleet.
It is also worth mentioning that, at the moment, none of the international regulatory bodies (IATA, EASA) are not prescribing limitations in aircraft capacity, but are recommending everything mentioned in the text, what is by now fully implemented. " - says national air carrier in their press release.
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