INDIA NEWS: The Indian government has now allowed airlines to resume domestic flights from Monday with the condition of just one-third of the pre-lockdown capacity. A set of standard operating procedures for passengers, airlines and airports have been issued by the Ministry of Civil Aviation that need to be followed.
There are specific pre-flight, in-flight and post-flight guidelines, travelling passengers are required to adhere to relating to health protocols that are specific to each destination state or union territory governments. A mandatory quarantine period will have to be undertaken by passengers on arrival. According to Indian Express, bookings will be formally opened for flights that will operate from Monday, on Thursday evening.
What airports will flights initially connect?
Even as the government has allowed airlines to operate to all airports across the country, the airlines will take the final decision on which airports to include in their network depending on the demand from passengers.
This will depend on a number of factors including whether the respective states have allowed complementary mobility infrastructure such as public transport to and from the airports. According to some airline officials, flights on some of the trunk routes such as Delhi-Mumbai, Delhi-Bengaluru, Mumbai-Bengaluru, Ahmedabad-Mumbai, etc may be resumed initially. Given that only a part of flights will be operating, the government has asked airlines to adhere to lower and upper limits of fares prescribed by the ministry during the period of Covid-19 pandemic. The fare limits are expected to be issued by the government on Thursday evening.
How does the pre-flight experience change?
To begin with, passengers have been asked to report at least two hours before departure time. It will be mandatory for passengers to wear a face mask, and a self-declaration or safe status on the Aarogya Setu app (for those with compatible devices) will be obtained to ensure that the passenger is free of Covid-19 symptoms. Passengers with “red status” on the app will not be permitted to travel.
While entering the airport terminal building, the passenger will have to undergo thermal screenings. At the airport, no physical check-in at the counters will be allowed. Only those passengers with confirmed web check-in will be allowed to enter the airport. Further, the passenger will also be required to print the baggage tag and affix it on the baggage so it is prominently displayed. Passengers have been advised to carry minimum baggage as use of trolleys only will be permitted sparingly. In addition to this, only one cabin baggage will be allowed to be carried.
The ministry has strongly advised passengers to not arrive at the airport at the last minute given that it is expected that processes will be slower than before. An Indian national repatriated under the Centre’s Vande Bharat Mission at Lucknow’s international airport on May 9, 2020. (Express Photo: Vishal Srivastav)
For the security check, arrangements have been made at airports to guide passengers to walk through the pre-embarkation security screening. The security staff have been instructed to practice “minimum touch” concept to reduce physical contact with the passengers.
Even as the government has advised vulnerable people such as very elderly, pregnant women or passengers with health issues to avoid air travel, there will be a waiting area after the security hold area where passengers have been advised to maintain social distancing and sanitisation protocols. Chairs for seating will also be open, but those marked “not for use” should not be occupied.
The food and beverages, and retail outlets inside the airport terminal building will be open but passengers have been advised to maintain hygiene and social distancing.
While boarding the flight, passengers will need to self-check-in using their boarding passes by scanning it at the equipment near the boarding gate. Passengers will be provided a safety kit comprising three-layered surgical masks, face shield and sanitisers from their airlines at the boarding gates. They will be asked to wear the mask, face shield and sanitise their hands before proceeding to the boarding gate.
How does the in-flight experience change?
Inside the aircraft, no meal services will be made available in addition to newspaper, magazine, and even on-board sale of items being prohibited to minimise physical contact. Passengers have been advised to minimise the use of lavatory and avoid any non-essential movement in the aisles.
Passengers will also not be allowed to consume any eatables during the flight except on grounds of health requirements. Additionally, water bottles will be made available by the airline in the galley area or on the seats.
If any passenger feels uncomfortable, fatigued or has cough, it should be brought to the notice of the crew.
Airlines have been advised to clean and sanitise the lavatories after every one hour of flight and to clear the seat pockets of all items except the safety card, which will be replaced or sanitised after every flight.
Upon the landing of the flight, the airlines have been asked to ensure that passengers exit in a sequence to avoid any bunching.
How does the post-flight experience change?
The passenger baggage will arrive in batches and the passengers have been advised to wait in the hold area. The airport operators have been advised to put social distance markings like a circle, square around the baggage collection carousel. Further, they have been told to ensure staggered placement of baggage on the arrival carousel.
Upon arrival at the airport, passengers will be allowed to take only the authorised taxis to leave the airport.
Most importantly, the travelling passengers will need to adhere to health protocols as are prescribed by the destination state or union territory governments. This would determine whether passengers arriving into any destination will have to undergo a quarantine period or not.
A senior civil aviation ministry official said ideally the passengers need not undergo repetitive quarantining but the ultimate decision on that will rest on the states.
Source: Indian Express