Demand for airplane seat covers that repel viruses and bacteria has skyrocketed during the Covid-19 pandemic, as carriers seek to reduce the time and cost of cleaning cabins.
“The stakes are high for airlines,” said Quentin Munier, head of strategy and innovation at the seats division of aircraft parts giant Safran. Tenders for new orders are increasingly using fabrics with anti-virus properties, he said.
The airline industry has been among the hardest hit by Covid-19 and most carriers have adopted strict health protocols on mask wearing and cabin cleaning to cut transmission, reassure passengers and boost travel. .
The industry lobby International Air Transport Association released a 32-page document on how to clean the interiors of airplanes.
“The airlines are cleaning up now, but that’s what they want to reduce,” Munier said. A carrier that managed eight daily rotations on a given route before the pandemic can now only do six due to time-consuming disinfection procedures, he said.
Paris-based Safran is conducting tests with hospitals on the effectiveness of tissues in which biocides have been incorporated during manufacturing, he said. Another possibility is the use of sprays which can be applied to existing seats and last between six months and a year.
These could ease some of the procedures between flights and add a new dimension to the jet seat market of around US $ 4.2 billion.
IATA recommends using a vacuum cleaner to remove loose particles from fabric seat covers, and wiping and drying those made from leatherette covers. He also recommends removing visible stains or changing the fabric, and also cleaning and disinfecting belts and buckles.
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