- Airlines can now serve inflight meals: DGCA
- Passengers refusing to wear mask can be put on no-fly list
- Domestic flights resumed in India from May 25 onwards
New Delhi: It’s been three months since the government resumed domestic commercial flights in India on May 25. From the initial, strictly implemented no-food in flight rules to control the spread of COVID-19, the government has now permitted the airlines to serve pre-packed snacks, meals and beverages on domestic flights and hot meals on international flights.
These guidelines were issued in the latest order from Ministry of Civil Aviation. The order further states that any passenger who refuses to wear a face mask in a flight can be put on the no-fly list by the airline. A senior official of the aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), told NDTV,
A passenger who refuses to wear a face mask can be put on no-fly list by the airline. We have not passed any new order in this regard, as the airline and its cabin crew are sufficiently empowered under the existing DGCA rules to take action.
As per the DGCA rules, an airline can choose to put an unruly passenger on its no-fly list after internal deliberations; subsequently, other airlines may follow suit in putting that passenger on their no-fly lists.
If the cabin crew or flight commander finds that an air passenger does not intentionally wear a face mask and poses a threat to other passengers, such ‘reckless’ air passengers will be put on the no-fly list.
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The official said that face masks can be removed only for genuine or legitimate reasons, like drinking water and having food.
Furthermore, when it comes to the in-flight meals, the official said,
Owing to the coronavirus pandemic, we had prohibited in-flight meal service on domestic flights since their resumption. On the other hand, on international flights, we were serving only pre-packed cold meals and snacks, depending on the flight duration.
The official said that the Civil Aviation Ministry has now permitted some pre-packed food items on domestic flights, depending upon the duration. He said,
The government has now allowed the airlines to serve pre-packed snacks, meals, pre-packed beverages on domestic flights but this will be depended on the duration of the flight. Airlines and charter flight operators, however, are allowed to serve hot meals and limited beverages on international flights, as per the standard practices.
As per the order, only single-use disposable trays, plates and cutlery should be used while serving food or beverages in domestic and international flights.
Crew will wear a fresh set of gloves for every meal and beverage service, the official said.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation also permitted the aircraft operators to let passengers use the in-flight entertainment system on international as well as domestic flights, wherever available.
Disposable earphones or cleaned and disinfected headphones will be provided to passengers at the start of the journey, the ministry order read.
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Dr Brijesh Kumar told NDTV that the decision regarding the masks is a great move to show our seriousness towards the usage of masks. Dr Kumar further said that it’s unclear what the impact of prohibiting meals had on the COVID transmission in the first place. He said,
I think the meals were stopped in the first place to make the travellers wear masks at all times and control fomites transfer through the meals. What I don’t understand is that what impact did it have in the first place, as there has been no notification related to that; moreover if there was an impact, I am worried about the easing in restriction now, when the spike in cases are at an all time high. Why are we providing these relaxations now?
Dr Kumar suggests that the travellers should be free to bring their own meals and snacks, and the flights should continue the prohibition of meals for some more time until the daily reported cases come down. He also expressed some concern over the disposable items being used by airlines to control COVID transmission. He said,
With India’s commitment to reduce plastic usage and enhance their waste management, how wise is the decision to get everything in disposables? This according to me is going to put some major stress on our waste burden.
While international passenger flights remain suspended in India, since March 23 due to the COVID-19 pandemic; special international flights have been operating under the ‘Vande Bharat Mission’ and bilateral air bubble arrangements that have been signed with various countries. Domestic flights resumed in India on May 25 after a gap of two months in view of the pandemic. However, airlines are allowed to operate with only 45 per cent of their pre-COVID domestic flights.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.