After telling investors that the worst of travel’s Covid-19 woes may be over, airlines are continuing to formalize their new cleaning initiatives to earn traveler confidence.
This morning, United Airlines announced a new sanitization and cleaning initiative called United CleanPlus that will include a partnership with the cleaning products company Clorox.
United’s program is similar to Hilton CleanStay, which the hotel chain launched in late April and includes a partnership with Lysol.
“Safety has always been our top priority, and right now in the midst of an unprecedented crisis, it’s our singular customer focus,” said United CEO Scott Kirby in a statement. “We recognize that Covid-19 has brought cleanliness and hygiene standards to the front of customers’ minds when making travel decisions, and we’re not leaving a single stone unturned in our pursuit to better protect our customers and employees.”
The airline will work with Clorox to “enhance” its cleaning program and to “redefine” disinfection procedures. Clorox products will soon be visible at United’s hubs, starting with Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and Denver International Airport. The airline will also be taking notes from the Cleveland clinic.
While all airlines are leaning into cleanliness these days, Delta Airlines CFO Paul Jacobson told investors on Tuesday at a conference that he didn’t think it would be a competitive advantage.
An aviation expert Seth Kaplan, however, notes that it’s an important step as airlines work to pull themselves out of the economic slump caused by Covid-19.
“In the short term, the perception [of cleanliness] can be a differentiator,” Kaplan noted. “For now, until there’s a vaccine available, this is on people’s minds. Airlines used to advertise safety. They don’t anymore; people take for granted that all airlines are more or less safe. A couple of years from now, that’s how it will be for sanitization.”
The airline will also be temporarily shutting down self-service kiosks and in select locations introducing “touchless kiosks” and employees will have their temperature taken before their workdays.
Just yesterday in a filing, United told investors that as of this week, the airline had “seen a reduction in customer cancellation rates” and a “moderate improvement” in domestic demand as well as “certain international destinations” in the latter part of Q2. Delta and Southwest Airlines reported similar findings.
This morning JetBlue also announced it will continue to block middle seats through July 4. The New York-based airline was the first major U.S. carrier to require guests to wear face masks. Other airlines quickly followed.
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