CALGARY — WestJet’s president and CEO has issued a statement about the ongoing coronavirus outbreak to reassure travellers that they can continue to “book with confidence.”
Noting how the safety of its passengers “has always been, and remains, our number one priority,” Ed Sims confirmed that the airline has trained for such scenarios as part of its overall emergency response, and has also created a COVID-19 direct response team.
“From the onset of the coronavirus, we have been in contact with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), Transport Canada and other agencies around the world to ensure we are aware of, and aligned with guidance regarding air travel,” he said, adding that there are “hundreds of WestJetters” across Canada involved in the airline’s coronavirus response.
“In addition to the standard aircraft cleaning that has been part of our daily maintenance schedule, we have introduced additional measures to increase the sanitization of our aircraft.
“We already disinfect and sanitize our aircraft using industry-approved products and have also introduced hospital-grade Clorox Wipes and Spray to our cleaning processes. These new products are used to clean the galleys, lavatories, tray tables, seat armrests and headrests, seatbelt buckles, the power supply unit panel, overhead bin door latches and lavatory door handles,” said Sims.
While in the air, WestJet’s aircraft are equipped with HEPA filters similar to those used in hospitals. According to Sims, these filters achieve a viral and bacterial removal efficiency of greater than 99.99%. Plus, aircraft also introduce fresh air into the cabin every two to three minutes.
Sims is reminding customers of WestJet’s flexible change policy, which allows guests who booked between March 3-31, 2020 to change their flights without the applicable change fees.
“In addition, we are temporarily removing the normal change and cancel restrictions for guests who had previously booked a Basic fare for travel beginning on or before March 31, 2020,” he added.
Sims is also reminding the public that the risk associated with coronavirus remains low for Canada, according to PHAC, and that there are no known cases where the virus has been transmitted from one person to another on an aircraft.
“We recognize that this is an evolving story and my commitment is to provide you with up-to-date information as it becomes available. We will continue to post to the WestJet blog, which remains the best place to find the most current information,” he said. “I hope this gives you confidence in the actions we are taking on your behalf. We remain committed to providing you a safe travel environment and I look forward to welcoming you onboard in the near future.”