“If you literally sequester the markets, which is to say remove all scheduled service, you really eliminate the possibility of practical access to those markets by public health officials and public health [groups] who are trying to help,” Mann said. “You would force them into the charter market, which is very expensive and in some cases also not very practical.”
Mann said the economics of chartering a plane to operate in West Africa are particularly challenging — and, by extension, especially expensive, likely rising quickly out of reach for most non-government organizations or aid workers.
He said a 16-seater plane capable of flying from North America to Western Africa nonstop, chartered from a reputable firm, would cost around $12,000 per hour for a 16-hour round-trip flight, not including ground handling costs, plus fuel costs for the return trip. He said some charter companies might be reluctant to even offer services to an Ebola hotspot, for the same reason an airline wouldn’t care to fly there.
“It’s really not practical for 16 people to pay what may be $200,000 to charter a jet — and compare that to the fares on scheduled airlines,” which might be about $1,200 per person.