Centre issues guidelines to expedite vaccination of aviation personnel
The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) on Thursday issued guidelines to facilitate the vaccination of aviation personal, associated with both government and private entities, in an accelerated manner. Dedicated vaccination facilities will be established by airport authorities at their respective airports, the MoCA said in a statement adding that personnel involved in aviation and related services (casual/contractual) will be eligible to take the jab.
Airport operators to ensure required facilities; protocol in place
The airport operators must establish facilities like drinking water, help desks, ventilation, fans, washrooms, vaccination counters (for both before and after the vaccination process), and segregated waiting areas, the MoCA said. The cost of the doses can be decided by the airport operators in agreement with the service providers. Airport operators have further been advised to designate a nodal officer for coordinating the efforts.
Priority to air traffic controllers, cockpit/cabin crews
The guidelines suggested that air traffic controllers (ATCs), cockpit and cabin crews of the airlines, as well as mission-critical and passenger-facing staff should be accorded priority vaccination. Operators should immediately contact government or private service providers who can set up COVID-19 vaccination centers at airports, they said, adding that there can be more than one service provider depending on the number of personnel.
Frontline workers in aviation face significant risk: Official
In a letter written to all states' chief secretaries on April 27, Tuhin Kanta Pandey, Secretary (Civil Aviation) stated, "It is understandable that the crew, engineers, air traffic controllers, technicians, ground staff, and frontline workers in aviation face significant risk in discharging their duties."
Guidelines may be contextualized for local situations: MoCA
The MoCA said that in view of exclusive local circumstances, the suggested guidelines may be contextualized and tweaked accordingly. "This is the broad framework to facilitate expeditious vaccination of the civil aviation community in the country," it said. However, all safety protocols related to COVID-19 put in place by the Union Health Ministry and the concerned state governments should strictly be adhered to.
Smaller airports may approach local administration for aid
While the guidelines encouraged airports to tie up with private service providers, they also stated, "For the smaller airports where the numbers to get vaccinated are less...the airport operators can approach the district or local administration for extending the vaccination program."
Chairman of Airports Authority of India to review progress
The Chairman of the Airports Authority of India (AAI), which manages over 100 airports across India, will hold regular meetings to review the progress of the vaccination program. In case there are any challenges related to logistical arrangements or the availability of vaccines, the AAI will coordinate with the Aviation Ministry and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to address these issues.
Air India assures employees of vaccination by May-end
National carrier Air India on Tuesday said that all of its employees will be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of May. "A schedule for vaccination is being drawn up and it is expected to commence as early as next week," AI said in a statement. The pilots' union of the airline had threatened to "stop work" if they were not accorded priority vaccination.
IndiGo, Vistara, GoAir roll out vaccination drives
Airlines such as IndiGo, Vistara, and GoAir have also rolled out their respective vaccination drives for their employees. While IndiGo has commenced the drive at 39 stations, a Vistara spokesperson said that frontline staffers are getting vaccinated progressively. GoAir aims to vaccinate all of its employees by May-end, too, while AirAsia India said it has carried out drives in Gurugram, Bengaluru, and Delhi.
World's first fully-vaccinated flight took off from Qatar last month
Qatar Airways holds the record for successfully flying out the world's first fully-vaccinated flight on April 6. All 188 passengers on board the flight, two pilots, and 18 cabin crew members had received vaccines against COVID-19. Ground staff working the flight were also vaccinated.