New Delhi: The country’s aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Monday (June 1) asked airlines to try and leave the middle seats on planes vacant as much as possible to ensure physical distancing as a measure to curb the spread of coronavirus. In case the middle seat cannot be left empty then airlines should provide the passengers with “wrap-around gowns” or protective gears, said the Directorate General of Civil Aviation directions order that will come into effect from June 3.
This new order has come a week after the Supreme Court pulled up the aviation regulator and Air India for putting passengers at risk by allowing booking for those seats as domestic flights resumed after two months amid the coronavirus lockdown. Earlier, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had also ruled out keeping middle seats vacant for domestic flights, pointing out that airfares would shoot up.
Along with these directions, the DGCA guidelines also said that the additional protective equipment like a wraparound gown should be Textile Ministry approved standards. In addition, passengers getting a middle seat should also get a face mask and shield.
It also reiterated other basic rules in the wake of coronavirus pandemic. The order said, ‘all aircraft shall be sanitised after the end of each sector when there is no passenger on board. On transit flights, airlines can sanitise those seats that have been vacated. Seat belts and all other contact points must be thoroughly cleaned. At the end of the day, each aircraft must be deep cleaned.’
Apart from sanitisation, airlines shall also set the air-conditioning system in such a way that the air gets replaced at the shortest possible intervals. It also said that all passengers should be provided with safety kits which will include three-layer surgical mask, face shield and sanitiser. Apart from this, the order also mentioned that no meals or drinking water shall be provided onboard except in extreme circumstances.
Directorate General of Civil Aviation directions to come into effect from June 3. Airlines asked to provide all passengers with safety kits, which includes three-layered surgical mask, face shield and adequate sanitizer (sachets/bottle). pic.twitter.com/8mGzcsMOGo
— ANI (@ANI) June 1, 2020
Currently, domestic passenger flights have been only restarted on May 25 after a gap of two months due to the coronavirus lockdown. However, International commercial passenger flights still remain suspended in the country. As of June 1, according to the ministry of health and family welfare, India has reported more than 1.90 lakh coronavirus cases, of which, 5394 have been reported dead.