BY Izah Azahari
Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) is closely monitoring the developments of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the directives from the World Health Organization (WHO) and government agencies in countries that RB serves.
In a press statement on Tuesday, RB stated that its crew and guests’ safety is the highest priority. RB is working closely with the authorities to take measures to minimise the COVID-19 spread and is taking proactive measures for guests and crew. RB upholds the highest standards when it comes to cleaning its aircraft and have stringent standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place.
All RB aircraft undergo a thorough cleaning and disinfectant process which includes cabin cleaning and wipe down of all tables, seat trims and inflight entertainment screens together with headsets. All headsets, pillows and blankets (used and unused) are removed after every flight.
RB also carries on board disinfectant sprays, masks and hand sanitisers for additional preventive measures. The aircraft are equipped with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters with similar performance to those used in hospital operating rooms. The cabin air is refreshed every few minutes and is sterile and particle free. To date there has been no confirmed inflight transmission of COVID-19 anywhere in the world.
RB has also introduced changes to its in-flight services as a preventive measure.
Travellers are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with healthcare providers immediately in case of symptoms suggestive to respiratory illness before or after travel.
With the entry ban to Brunei Darussalam and transit ban at the Brunei International Airport, which has been extended to all countries except citizens of Brunei (effective March 24), foreign nationals will not be allowed into Brunei. Foreign nationals previously granted re-entry visas, travel visas, student visas and dependent visas who are still residing in their own country are to delay travel to the Sultanate.
Additionally, all visitors arriving into Brunei will be required to undergo a 14-day self-isolation period immediately at appointed monitoring centres – in accordance with the Infectious Diseases Act, Chapter 204. All guests are advised to familiarise themselves with the latest travel advice from their origin, departure, transit and home nation before travelling, as significant restrictions may be in place. Following the Brunei Government travel advisory, RB will not permit guests to board or travel if they have visited Hubei province in China, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Europe (including the United Kingdom and Italy) in the last 14 days, except for Brunei citizens and diplomats.
As part of RB’s temporary measures, effective April 1, check-in counters at Brunei International Airport will be opened two hours before scheduled departure, while check-in counters at Changi International Airport (SIN), Melbourne Tullamarine Airport (MEL), Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) and Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) will also be opened two hours before scheduled departure. In-town check-in service in Hong Kong will be temporarily suspended.
RB also waived all rebooking fees for all booked tickets issued for travel up to May 31, 2020, with immediate effect. Guests can cancel their existing flight itineraries, retain the total value of their booking and rebook their travel up to 12 months from the date the credit voucher is issued.
Booking can be done at a later date when guests are able to firm up their new travel plans across any RB route by paying any applicable fare difference. Guests can submit a request form for RB to process, but in view of the high volume of incoming requests, response will take within seven business days.
RB will continue to monitor the situation closely working with industry, international and government stakeholders. Guests on affected flights will be contacted by the RB Customer Service Centre over the coming days for alternative flight arrangements. As RB is experiencing high call volumes, guests are asked to refrain from calling unless travelling in the next 72 hours – so RB can first help those needing urgent rebooking.
The temporary operating hours for RB Call Centre in Brunei is from 8am to 6pm (Monday to Thursday and Saturday) and from 8am to noon and 2pm to 6pm on Friday. During the month of Ramadhan, the temporary operating hours will be from 9am to 4pm (Monday to Thursday and Saturday), from 9am to noon and 2pm to 3pm (on Friday), and from 9am to 3pm during public holidays.
-- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin