How to change air travel after May 14 (interview Lucian Bode)

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In an interview with the ProTV News correspondent Vitalie Cojocari, the Minister of Transport, Lucian Bode, stated that currently, at the level of the European Union, all member countries come with proposals and solutions for the resumption of freight and passenger transport in Europe. But that normalization, at the pre-crisis level, will be done gradually and in compliance with certain common regulations.

I extracted from the interview with Mr. Lucian Bode (click to listen to the interview) only the part that interests us directly. That is, just what he said about aviation and how the air travel changes after May 14th. Below is an excerpt from the interview.

Vouchers instead of money for plane tickets

"There were two topics for discussion. On the one hand, urgent measures to mitigate the negative impact of the crisis on the transport sector. And on the other hand, it was discussed what we are doing in the post-crisis stage, the stage in which certain states, including Romania, announced that they will relax the measures, from May 15th. When the state of emergency expires, we must know exactly how each mode of transport will take place in Romania and in all Member States.", Explained Lucian Bode.

According to the Minister of Transport, one of the proposals made by Romania, regarding air transport, was that to replace cash compensation with vouchers, in the case of trips not made due to the crisis.

"One of Romania's proposals in the air field was the temporary amendment of Regulation 261/2004, in order to allow carriers, for a limited period of time, to offer vouchers for the flights of passengers whose flights have been canceled, due to COVID-19 reasons.

Initially, we were 11 states that officially requested this. And by the end of yesterday's talks, there were more than 20 states that joined this request, and I believe that in the final recommendations of the European Commission we will find this possibility.", The minister explained.

The official also said that, secondly, amid declining air travel, he called for the development of new air traffic forecasts and performance plans for air traffic control through Eurocontrol.

How to change air travel

With regard to air passenger transport, the Minister of Transport stated that the priority is to ensure the safe movement of citizens and the maximum limitation of the risk of illness.

"We need to make sure that citizens can move around safely and that the risk of illness is minimal. From 15 May, for example, all domestic and international flights are unlikely to resume. We are in discussions both at national and European level to see how we resume this activity gradually. For example, airlines are likely to resume domestic flights regionally, not to all 16 airports.

For this we need to know what will happen throughout the chain, from the airport, to the companies that provide services at the airport, to the airline, how tickets will be issued, how passengers will be distributed in the aircraft - all this the detachments need to be clarified in those standards that we have requested from the European Commission and which I believe will come at the latest next week. A set of recommendations for all Member States to implement ", said Bode.

Free space on the plane

Regarding the option of leaving a free seat on the plane between passengers, in order to keep the distance, the minister said that such a proposal came from Italy.

"Such proposals came from the Member States - for example, Italy made this proposal, sent it to all Member States, as they see it positioned in every post-crisis mode of transport. Specifically, these things were not discussed.

I asked all specialized departments on all modes of transport in the ministry to come up with a concrete proposal, as they see the development of air transport, for example, in Romania, taking into account all the data we have at this time at national level, without waiting for those standards. And they came up with proposals on each segment, what will happen at the airport, what those colors will be like to keep their distance ", the minister specified.

What is the state doing to keep alive the two Romanian operators Tarom and Blue Air

"In Romania, we are talking about 15 airlines, two of which operate more than a third of their flights - I'm talking about Tarom and Blue Air, which are currently in difficulty, because their revenues have dropped by over 95%. In parallel, we identify solutions to keep these companies alive, 90% of Blue Air employees and over 60% -70% of Tarom employees are already technically unemployed.

We have that memorandum requesting state aid for the two companies, they paid part of the debts they had these days. At this time, our concern is to keep this company afloat, to keep them alive, active and after the crisis, and when we start operating we will also decide how to give these vouchers, for how long, or we refund the money - because we did not eliminate this option, but we cannot refund the money in 7 days, as the regulation writes ", said Lucian Bode.

This interview brought to our attention, of all of us, some ideas and plans we wanted after May 14th. But there are no firm actions, there is nothing concrete. We are waiting for the final decisions!

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