Airspace closures due to Covid-19

Many Christmas travelers had their plans disrupted because of airspace closures due to Covid-19. We have been asked how a plane can land when a country has closed its airspace?

Hurry home now” – this is probably how many European travelers have felt as travel restrictions leading up to Christmas, were introduced with short notice. Some made it and got a flight home last minute, unfortunately, many were not able to get out. To all of those, we send our greatest sympathies.

Example. In the early hours of Monday the 21’st of December, Denmark announced that from 10:00 local time on Monday the 21’st of December, the airspace would be closed for all flights coming from the UK. An awake person would see on flight radar that at 11:13 local time, BA flight 814 from LHR crosses the Danish land border. The destination? Denmark, Copenhagen. According to flight radar, it landed at 11:40 Danish time.

Hang on a minute how is that possible?

Disclaimer: Of course we can only offer a possible explanation and we do not have the insight to say 100% this is what happened.

We will not comment on the political aspects nor any health-related decisions but purely focus on the aviation side. We will come with a possible explanation of why this was possible.

BA814 had a scheduled departure of 08:55 UK time, that is 09:55 local Danish time. According to flight radar, the plane departed 09:20 UK time, which is again 10:20 Danish time. By the time the airplane had got airborne from London, Denmark had officially closed the airspace borders. But this is it. When the decision to close airspace is made with short notice the information may take some time to pass on to the airline, the pilots, and the passenger. Also, you could argue that the originally scheduled time of departure complied with the regulations.

There is also the very likely possibility that the plane was not carrying any passengers from London but that it was sent to pick up stranded passengers. An indication that this might have been the case is that another flight BA818 from London landed later in Copenhagen at 16:51 Danish time. Both planes flew at 39.000 ft from London to Copenhagen. Typically a fully loaded plane would fly at 37.000 ft, so the fact that both planes flew higher could be an indication that they were not carrying any passengers. This practice (flying stranded passengers back) was also seen on other routes for example Amsterdam- London.

Air travel and Covid-19

A question we get a lot is if Air Travel is safe during the Covid-19 outbreak. Short answer – yes we believe it is.

From what we have seen and experienced it is possible to travel by air and keep Covid-19 guidelines. In the early days of the Covid-19 outbreak, we made a video about traveling during the covid-19 outbreak.

IATA (International Air Travel Agency) states:

“Be reassured that the risk of contracting COVID-19 on board a flight is very low”

Of course, some will ask, what is “very low”? This is a statement from IATA’s Medical Advisor, Dr. David Powell:

“With only 44 identified potential cases of flight-related transmission among 1.2 billion travelers, that’s one case for every 27 million travelers. We recognize that this may be an underestimate but even if 90% of the cases were unreported, it would be one case for every 2.7 million travelers. We think these figures are extremely reassuring.”

You can read the full IATA report here

You could argue that traveling by air, going through the terminal, etc. is down to the same principles as many of us have got used to in our everyday life. For example when we are out shopping or using public transportation. In easy terms, some countries have called the protection for Covid-19 for: Hands, face, space.

We do understand why some may still feel anxious about traveling by air during the Covid-19 outbreak. Maybe in particular if you already had a fear of flying. If there is anything you are worried about in regards to traveling by air or a fear of flying, we will be happy to answer your questions and try to help.

Happy Landings

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