India sets up new air travel ground rules; Domestic flights to recommence from 25 May

From 25 May, domestic airline activities set to restart from airports throughout all major cities. The new standard operating protocols (SOPs) set up on Wednesday, calls for travelers boarding and disembarkation in groups based on seating arrangements in the airplane to avert crossing inside the airplane. 

On Wednesday, all airports and airline companies have been briefed to be prepared to restart operations, stated Hardeep Singh Puri, Civil Aviation Minister via tweet. 

Considering this re-commencement, the lengthy list of do’s and dont’s begin from an individual’s home itself. Taking this into account, it is speculated that at first these airlines may only permit web check-ins and the travelers will be required to print their boarding tickets and check-in baggage passes before they head to the airport.

Also, newspapers and magazines will not be permitted in the terminal building and lounges; and also it will be made mandatory for travelers to have Arogya Setu App previously installed on their phones.“All the departing passengers must compulsorily be registered with ‘Arogya Setu’ App on their mobiles and the same shall be verified by CISF/Airport staff at the entry gate. However, Arogya Setu is not mandatory for children below the age of 14 years,” the SOP said and added, “Passengers not showing “Green” on ‘Arogya Setu’ are not to be allowed to enter.”

The SOPs for ‘recommencement of domestic flights’ state that only personal cars or selected approved taxi/transport services with limited seating will be allowed to enter the airport. While travelers will need to reach the airport two hours before taking off.

All the airports will also have mats and carpets soaked with bleach (sodium hypochlorite solution) positioned at the entry door for sanitizing shoes and thermal scanners for travelers. 

The strategy involves the use of trolleys to be prohibited in the departure and arrival sector, and all baggage to be disinfected by the airport workers in the baggage break up area before placing on the conveyer belt and prior to giving over the luggage to the travelers.

The SOPs also implied the application of open-air ventilation wherever possible in place of central air-conditioning and in places where this is inevitable, guaranteeing switches in air circulation in a few hours beside the change of air-filters.

Apart from maintaining social distancing, markings/stickers placed at not less than 1 meter at suitable places; masks, gloves and hand sanitizers for travelers and staff. These airports have also been asked to add counters fitted with a glass or perspex/plexiglass sheet. These sheets will also have a corner magnifying area to verify the boarding ticket and identification papers.“In case the same is not feasible, the concerned personnel should wear a transparent face shield behind a counter to provide a physical barrier,” the SOP stated.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has also appealed for the disinfection of the passenger drop off/pick up zone and curbside outlets along with a special isolation region for the suspected or approved COVID patients.

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