Delta doubles cabin cleaners in 'pit stop' revamp, buys kits to test for germs
By Tracy Rucinski CHICAGO (Reuters) - Delta Air Lines has doubled its staffing to handle revamped pre-flight 'pit stops' for deeper cleaning and wants to ensure that tray tables and restroom door handles are germ-free with a new testing process, an executive told Reuters. Airlines' efforts to reassure travelers of their safety during the pandemic have spurred a behind-the-scenes scramble to complete the enhanced cleaning that they are promising without sacrificing turnaround times, a cornerstone of profitability, once more passengers take to the skies. 'We've done quite a lot of change to our turn process,' the head of Delta's new Global Cleanliness division Mike Medeiros said in an interview detailing the airline's strategy for 'turns' -- the time a plane spends on the ground between flights.
By Tracy Rucinski
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Delta Air Lines
Airlines' efforts to reassure travelers of their safety during the pandemic have spurred a behind-the-scenes scramble to complete the enhanced cleaning that they are promising without sacrificing turnaround times, a cornerstone of profitability, once more passengers take to the skies.
"We've done quite a lot of change to our turn process," the head of Delta's new Global Cleanliness division Mike Medeiros said in an interview detailing the airline's strategy for "turns" -- the time a plane spends on the ground between flights.
Depending on the aircraft's size, Delta is deploying at least eight pre-flight cabin cleaners, up from three to five previously, and has adopted a new "pit stop mentality" based on industrial engineering studies into the extra resources required for cleaning each plane type, he said.
After cleaners spray with disinfectant and wipe down high-touch surfaces, a flight attendant and gate agent walk the cabin together to inspect. If the cabin is not up to par, they call back the cleaners.
"Even if that means taking a delay to the flight," said Medeiros, who is among managers who receive daily cleanliness reports in their inbox based on customer surveys taken after every flight.
"As important as (being) on-time is to our company, we know that cleanliness, particularly in this environment but also going forward, will be just as important," he said.
Delta's average clean time for its domestic fleet is now 20 minutes, up from 10 minutes to 15 minutes previously depending on the aircraft size, but it aims to speed up the procedure to protect its turn times once schedules are heavier by adding resources.
To verify levels of cleanliness, Delta is purchasing ATP test kits that measure the amount of bacteria on airplane and airport surfaces. The kits cannot test for COVID-19 .
It has already purchased 30 of the hand-held units, which cost about $1,000 each, to test the effectiveness of its cleaning program. The plan is to buy the tests for all of its global airport bases, though details are still being developed.
Among large U.S. rivals, American Airlines
All of the airlines are eyeing new cleaning technology. United, for example, is testing ultraviolet sanitation deployed by drones and hand-held wands for airport and aircraft surfaces.
Delta is rolling out antimicrobial LED light technology by Vital Vio in all its aircraft restrooms that will continuously prevent the growth of bacteria, fungi, mold and yeast.
The airline is also in talks with Boeing Co
Last week Delta said it would continue blocking middle seats through Jan. 6. Southwest is limiting seating capacity through October, while American and United are selling all seats. Beyond the jet, Delta is looking at bipolar ionization to improve air filtration at its airport facilities, including jetways. Airplanes already use hospital-grade HEPA that refresh air every two to four minutes.
"We're not afraid of adding costs to the business, but it has to add value," said Medeiros. "If people are fearful or uncomfortable, travel won't come back in the near term."
(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Daniel Wallis)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.