American Airlines to Use “Virus-Killing” Surface Coating on Planes

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has given the carrier the green light to use a newly approved antimicrobial solution to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

American Airlines to Use “Virus-Killing” Surface Coating on Planes

American Airlines can now use a new product that reportedly kills COVID-19 on surfaces for up to seven days.

Courtesy of American Airlines

On August 24, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it has given American Airlines approval to use a new product that kills COVID-19 on surfaces for up to seven days.

As a result of the decision, American said it would be upgrading its cleaning protocol to include the electrostatic spraying solution SurfaceWise2, a longer-lasting disinfectant produced by Texas-based Allied BioScience.

According to the carrier, SurfaceWise2 creates a clear protective layer that actively kills viruses. As coronavirus comes into contact with the antiviral coating, the solution physically breaks down the virus, American explained. In the coming months, American will begin using SurfaceWise2 throughout its aircraft and will ultimately use the product on its entire fleet, including on American Eagle regional planes.

The solution’s maker, Allied BioScience, said that not only will the product be effective on airplanes, but it also hopes to use it in offices, schools, gyms, and other high-traffic areas.

“The EPA approval clears the way to begin effectively protecting consumers against COVID-19 as the only solution proven to provide long-term, non-toxic surface protection from the virus,” Allied BioScience CEO Michael Ruley said in a statement.

Fort Worth, Texas-based American Airlines is able to use the product because the EPA granted the Texas Department of Agriculture an emergency public health exemption to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). This means the disinfections can only take place while the planes are in Texas until and unless other states are granted an exemption to use SurfaceWise2 as well. The EPA has currently approved SurfaceWise2 for reapplication every 7 days, an American spokesperson told AFAR.

“The product is safe, nontoxic to humans and non-aquatic pets and has been EPA-approved for this type of usage,” the American spokesperson said. “Allied BioScience has a similar solution already being used in hospitals because of its proven effectiveness to reduce the spread of infection.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that while it is possible to get COVID-19 by touching a surface that has the virus on it, “this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads,” according to the agency.

In addition to applying the new solution, American has implemented other health and safety measures to help combat the spread of coronavirus. The airline will continue with its enhanced aircraft cleaning that is performed prior to each flight and a deeper overnight cleaning using standard disinfectants. Additionally, staff and passengers are required to wear masks (from the time they enter the airport until the time they leave the airport in their destination). Those who refuse to wear one could be denied boarding and future travel on American; only children under age two are exempt.

As of August 19, 2020, masks with exhaust valves or vents are prohibited— the CDC notes that a mask with an exhalation valve, which can make it easier to breathe, “should not be used in situations where a sterile field must be maintained because the exhalation valve may allow unfiltered exhaled air to escape.”

The carrier also requires temperature checks for staff and is asking customers to verify that they are symptom-free before traveling. American does not block middle seats.

>> Next: How Safe Is Flying During COVID-19?

Michelle Baran is a deputy editor at AFAR where she oversees breaking news, travel intel, airline, cruise, and consumer travel news. Baran joined AFAR in August 2018 after an 11-year run as a senior editor and reporter at leading travel industry newspaper Travel Weekly.
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