- Passengers will be required to report to the airport 2 hours before flights
- Arogya Setu app is compulsory for passengers
- People living in containment zones will not be allowed to travel
New Delhi: The aviation sector is preparing to resume about a third of its operations, as domestic flights resume from Monday (May 25), under strict norms after 60 days of lockdown. The civil aviation ministry has released Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for flying in times of coronavirus, cautioning vulnerable persons, including the elderly, pregnant women and passengers with health issues to avoid air travel. While those living in containment zones will not be allowed to travel.
— MyGovIndia (@mygovindia) May 21, 2020
Passengers will be required to report to the airport 2 hours before flights and it is compulsory for them wear face mask. They will also be mandated to ensure social distancing at all places by following markers and signs prepared for this purpose, as per the guidelines.
At the airport, passengers will be required to go through thermal screening and the airport staff will also check passenger’s status on the Aarogya Setu contact-tracing app. If the app is not installed on the passenger’s phone, they will be directed to another counter facilitated by the airport, where the app can be downloaded.
Passengers showing COVID-19 symptoms, or those whose Aarogya Setu status is “red”, will not be allowed to enter the terminal. Children under the age of 14 need not use the Aarogya Setu app. All passengers must also fill in a self-declaration form, the government has said.
In order to ensure that the security staff doesn’t contract COVID-19, they will have minimum physical contact with passengers.
Passengers will be able to do only web-check in and obtain the baggage tag online as well, which will be printed and attached to luggage. They will be allowed one check-in bag per passenger and will need to drop off at least an hour before flight. The baggage receipt upon drop off at counter will be confirmed to the passenger via SMS.
— MyGovIndia (@mygovindia) May 21, 2020
For security check, passengers will have to remove all metal items from their body to facilitate security screening. Staff will practice “minimum touch” to reduce physical contact with passengers.
After security screening, when passengers move to departure areas, they must follow sanitisation protocols.
Food and beverages (F&B) outlets at the airport can open on the condition that they must follow all COVID-19 precautions and enable take-away, digital payments, self-ordering booths. Passengers have to maintain social distance around any food and beverage or retail outlet that may be open.
Passengers will have to collect safety kit, mask, face shield, sanitiser near the boarding gate. They will scan the boarding pass near the gate and show their ID card to staff, to board the aircraft in a sequential manner,
All biohazardous waste – such as masks, gloves and tissues – must be disposed of in marked bins and bags.
— MyGovIndia (@mygovindia) May 21, 2020
Once inside the aircraft, passengers are advised to minimise use of lavatory and not form queues on planes for bathrooms. They will not be served meals and passengers cannot bring their own food either but water bottles will be kept on every seat. Passengers will also not be allowed newspapers or magazines on board.
Upon arrival, passengers have to follow social distancing while waiting for baggage to arrive.
When it comes to the airlines maintaining hygiene and cleanliness to protect their staff and passengers, private aviation companies have independently released statements on the precautions they will be undertaking.
All the airlines have said that their crew, including cabin crew and ground staff, will wear appropriate PPE like masks, face shields, protective gowns and gloves, for their roles.
Vistara Airlines has said that it will operate a “reduced network” for the next few weeks connecting 24 cities across the country. All employees will wear personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times.
The airline will also ensure disinfectant cleaning of all aircraft at the turn-around of every single flight and deep cleaning of all aircraft every 24 hours with approved disinfectant cleaners, Vistara said in its statement.
AirAsia India too announced that their pilots will have access to an ample amount of PPE like masks and sanitisers to upkeep their safety and hygiene.
Our well-trained cabin crew will be operating with adequate PPE, including masks, face shields, protective gowns and gloves and have been trained to assist with and manage medical situations in-flight, AirAsia India said in their statement.
On the other hand, IndiGo Airlines’ CEO Ronojoy Dutta released a statement where he said that all common surfaces such as baggage drop counters, boarding gates, coaches, ramps, wheelchairs, crew vehicles will be thoroughly disinfected using “approved cleaning agents”.
We will disinfect the aircraft before every flight. In addition, we will also follow a periodic fumigation of the aircraft. IndiGo will deep clean its aircraft every night, he noted.
He also said ground staff and cabin crew members will be wearing PPE.
IndiGo, will serve water on demand and hand over safety kits to passengers at the boarding gate, the statement further read.
The passenger kit provided by IndiGo would consist of sanitisers and surgical masks, it added.
SpiceJet Airlines has also ensured that all its aircraft will be deep cleaned extensively with Boeing approved disinfectants before each boarding.
SpiceJet has implemented the best-in-class cleaning procedures on all its aircraft in addition to disinfecting customer touchpoints and surfaces before every flight. The cleaning procedure for flights includes a thorough wipe down using an effective, high-grade, Boeing-approved disinfectant across aircraft interiors including the places customers touch most – the tray tables, seat covers, armrests, seatbelts, window shades and lavatories and their knobs.
They further said that all SpiceJet aircraft now have synthetic leather seats, the statement read,
These are non-porous seats that don’t allow COVID-19 virus to penetrate inside them and can be easily wiped off compared to standard fabric seats.
Dr Praveen Danee, a physician in Delhi, spoke to NDTV about the recent orders issued and said that despite the fear-mongering related to COVID-19, it is time to go back to normalising of lives. He said,
It is a scary and unprecedented situation. There’s a fear in the air, and even if you step out right now and see people around, you can tell they are scared and the life is not normal. And as a matter of fact, it may not be normal for quite some time now. So the best thing to do as a population for us is to move forward. Follow the government guidelines and orders as these are formulated with expert advice. We all know what we need to do moving forward, we know how to go about living our lives. The only step is to follow up with the norms.
Dr Dani further highlighted the plight of people living in distress and couldn’t travel back to their hometowns due to the short notice of the lockdown.
We all are aware of the plight of poor migrant workers and daily wagers, it is absolutely shocking, heart-wrenching and an unfortunate situation. We can’t compare their stress with the target population who are capable to use airlines. However, this population includes migrant young students and bachelors or elderly citizens who are stuck in different towns other than their families. So resuming airlines with all the precautions in the place might be a good idea now, not in terms of controlling the virus but in terms of ‘till when will we live our lives in a halt’? Dr Dani signed off.
All scheduled commercial passenger flights had been suspended since the lockdown was imposed on March 25, fight the coronavirus pandemic. However, repatriation flights, medical evacuation flights and cargo flights have been allowed to despite the lockdown.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, addressing a press conference said that all the air travel routes have been divided into seven sections based on the duration of flights ranging from 40 minutes to 210 minutes. The aim of the exercise is to control the fares.