Updates to flight laws and international travel have been gazetted and signed off by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula under lockdown level 1.
Surprisingly, many airline passengers were shocked to find that only consumables offered by on-board catering is limited to bottled water and under no circumstances are passengers allowed to eat on domestic flights – even if bringing their own food onboard.
In short, no alcohol and no eating is allowed on any domestic flight.
Irate passengers might be frowning at the thought of a dry flight, but there is a reason behind this. It all comes down to supporting better adherence to mask wearing on board planes in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
“Air travel and the spread of coronavirus have been totally conflated in our minds, but what we forget is that people weren’t necessarily getting ill on aircraft, rather it’s the act of infected folks travelling from one community to another that perpetuated the spread of the disease” said Kirby Gordon, the chief marketing officer at FlySafair.
The government’s reasoning for these new rules could also stem from a 2018 study by the University of Florida. It confirmed that that there was a low probability of direct transmission of droplet-mediated respiratory diseases during airline flights, thanks to the air-management system in modern aircraft.
MIT, which cited the data, further noted that the particular study was conducted before the introduction of masks which add an additional significant layer of protection.
This is the primary factor motivating the new regulations around the consumption of food on aircraft.
Supporting the findings, when several airlines in SA recommenced with on-board catering, passengers took the opportunity to drop their masks for extended periods during flights.