Social distancing in aircraft cabins is not a viable and sustainable option, and trying to distance oneself by various means would be a useless thing, according to the president of Emirates.
Tim Clark also mentioned that removing the seat from the middle, reducing passenger capacity to 50% and other proposed measures are not useful because they will not be really effective for social distancing.
He says it makes no sense for the middle seat to be empty or non-existent, because if someone in the back sneezes and the flight is a long-distance one, then there will be no difference that he will travel even 10 meters away. The air circulates in the cabin, even if there are hepa filters that filter the air to the smallest particles.
He also mentions that these measures would be to the detriment of low cost airlines, which rely on the volume of passengers to make their financial income viable.
Therefore, until there is a vaccine or medicine against Covid 19, precautions to prevent and spread the infection fall on the burden and confidence of passengers. Of course, companies will take all necessary measures regarding the disinfection of public spaces, both on the ground and in the air.
Regarding the measures and protocols imposed, Emirates in Dubai has developed strict protocols, including uniforms consisting of protective equipment for cabin crew, containing gloves, masks and sanitary products for passengers. Also, every 30 minutes the toilets of the cabins are sanitized during a flight and the air filtration system changes the air every two minutes.
Last but not least, the president of Emirates is optimistic that air traffic will be resumed in full by mid-2021.