Guidelines for domestic air travel announced: What's allowed, what's not
The Airports Authority of India, AAI, on Thursday released the standard operating procedure (SOPs) for domestic air travel, underlining that downloading the Aarogya Setu app will not be mandatory for children below 14 years. Other passengers will have to download the app, without fail. This directive came a day after Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said domestic flights will resume from May 25.
All flight operations — domestic and international — were suspended in India in March, in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. The lockdown, which started on March 25, was extended thrice; Lockdown 4.0 will end on May 31. The Union Government has now allowed certain industries to function, to kick-start the fragile economy. Domestic travel was included in the list too.
Gloves and masks are a must, so is screening
Puri underlined that not all flights will start from Monday, and that services will resume in a "calibrated manner". He had also said keeping the middle seat vacant, to promote social distancing, isn't a "viable" option as rates would shoot up. Meanwhile, as per AAI, all passengers will have to wear masks and gloves, and will be thermally screened at entry points.
Reach two hours before departure: AAI tells passengers
AAI said passengers will have to reach two hours prior to take-off, a departure from the pre-corona days when fliers were expected to reach the airport 45 minutes early for domestic travels. Further, passengers will be allowed to the terminal building if their flights are within four hours. No trolleys will be given, except for special cases. They will also be disinfected.
Not every vehicle will be allowed
AAI said state governments and administrations will have to provide taxis or public transport for the crew. Only personal vehicles and few private taxis will be permitted to ferry passengers or staff to and from the airport, the SOP said.
Web check-in at home to avoid physical contact
The new guidelines have been framed to minimize physical contact between passengers and airport staff. For this, fliers have been asked to do web check-in and print a boarding pass at home. Initially, only one handbag and one check-in bag will be allowed. They must have all documents handy for inspection. The entire procedure has to be completed 60 minutes before departure.
Bags will be sanitized, printed receipts won't be given
Once the flight details and passengers' health are ascertained, they will be sent to the baggage drop counter. The PNR will be flashed through a glass screen, after which baggage tags will be attached. The luggage will be sanitized too. The passengers will get an SMS instead of a printed receipt. Passengers will be asked to maintain social distancing at all times.
Eating inside flights not allowed
Further, passengers were asked to maintain distance from any food or beverage or retail outlet that could open. Inside the flight, passengers will be given three-layered surgical masks, face shields, and sanitizers. They will not be permitted to eat, magazines/newspapers won't be distributed, and they have been advised against needlessly roaming in the aisle. Passengers should avoid lavatory too, the guidelines added.
Here are the exhaustive rules
With travel restrictions imposed, the airline industry suffered drastically. As per a report in CRISIL, a global analytics company, India's aviation industry will incur a loss of Rs. 24,000-25,000 crore this fiscal. While airlines will contribute to 70% of these losses, airport operators could register a Rs. 5,000-5,500 crore loss and airport retailers could lose Rs. 1,700-1,800 crore, the company predicted.
Meanwhile, booking for 200 trains started today
The Centre also partially restored train services, announcing this week that 200 trains will start from June 1. The Shramik special trains being run to send migrant workers to their home states aren't included in this list. The bookings for these trains started at 10 am today. Durontos, Sampark Krantis, Jan Shatabdis, and Poorva Express will resume services soon.