More than 20 airlines, including Malaysia Airlines, have published emergency procedures outlining how they respond to the presence of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and the Saudi Arabian Civil Aviation Authority (SCAI) will soon follow suit.
Families of passengers affected by the virus fear airlines will not be prepared to deal with a possible outbreak in the future.
Some argue it’s been over two years since the virus was first documented and airlines have yet to implement any standard travel procedures.
Almost 200 passengers from Malaysia Airlines have contracted the virus, which kills over 40% of the people who contract it, and are still awaiting news on their conditions. Three of those passengers died.
Meanwhile, the SCAI announced it would continue to publish EOC procedure for airlines to follow should there be a terrorist attack.
“The SCAI has taken note of the plan for airlines to publish emergency procedures in the event of an EOC activation and it will be going forward, alongside other emergency procedures and protocols for the safety of aircraft, personnel and passengers,” said committee member Muhd Muhsin Al Emri.
The advice encourages airlines to use and publish the instructions in the first written and broadcast flight plan as the EOC signal is dependent on the aircraft’s weight.
The SCAI says any aircraft classified as a “Class A” airline will be required to inform their airline pilots and ground personnel of the emergency as well as instructing them to view the EOC website for information.
Mental and Emotional Health
South Africa is a launch pad for MERS infection because of the lack of airports offering real-time passenger information. The MH industry which has nearly 300 flights a day have been held to ransom by the SCAI’s rules for data collection.
MIA has only announced their EOC plans for passengers departing from Malaysia but does not yet have an MERS emergency plan in place, although MDT, the Cebu Pacific, and Lion Air have confirmed they will soon do so.
FlightNetwork managing director Robert Atkinson called for airlines to reconsider the current safety protocol as it’s out of step with global trends on health and environmental threats.
Lion Air CEO Edward Sirait says that so far that airline has not experienced any outbreaks and has plans in place should the situation arise.
Malaysia Airlines CEO Tony Fernandes tells TechRadar the airline is still struggling to assess how to deal with the MERS situation.
“We never knew what to do with the number of people who are coming on to the [Kuala Lumpur] terminal. We had to find out where the hell they all were, what was going on in their personal lives,” he said.