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Flying in Lockdown 4: Minimum touch & baggage; health status check mandatory

A day after announcing resumption of domestic flight services, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has released a set of guidelines for flying in lockdown 4

  • On the day of commencement of domestic flight services, the government has permitted limited operations — 1/3rd

  • No physical check-in at airport counters would be done and only those passengers with confirmed web check-in shall be allowed to enter the airport

New Delhi: A day after the government announced the resumption of domestic flight services in India, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has released a set of guidelines for flying in lockdown 4. Among the new norms prescribed by the ministry are mandatory health status checks on Aarogya Setu app, thermal screening, web check-in and minimum touch and baggage at airports. The SOP for flying in the fourth phase of the extended lockdown put in place to contain the spread of Coronavirus comes a day after airlines and airports were asked by the government to prepare to resume domestic flight services from May 25.

“Air travel of passengers, both domestic and international, has been prohibited since 25th March 2020. Now it has been decided by Government that domestic air travel of passengers shall resume with effect from 25th May, 2020 (order of MHA dated 20th May, 2020). Accordingly, Ministry of Civil Aviation has developed general instructions and detailed guidelines for air travel of passengers and major stakeholders (Airlines, Airports, Security Agencies, Ground Handling Agencies and Health Authorities, etc.) by incorporating necessary safeguards in consultation with experts and stakeholders,” the Ministry of Civil Aviation said on Thursday.

Flying in Lockdown 4: Only 1/3rd operations permitted initially

Upon commencement of domestic flight services, the government has permitted limited operations — 1/3rd of the Summer Schedule — in the initial phase. “Further augmentation of flights will be done in a calibrated manner,” said the notification. The government has also asked vulnerable people, such as elderly, pregnant women and passengers with health issues, to avoid travel. It has asked airlines to adhere to the lower and upper limits of fares prescribed by the Ministry during the  Coronavirus pandemic period.

Fare structure

Commenting on the fare structure, Minister for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri said at a press conference on Thursday, "We've set a minimum and maximum fare. In the case of Delhi-Mumbai, the minimum fare would be Rs 3,500 for a journey between 90-120 minutes, the maximum fare would be Rs 10,000. This is operative for three months, till one minute to midnight on 24th August." He added, "40 percent of seats have to be sold at a fare less than the midpoint of the band. For example, the midpoint of Rs 3,500 & Rs 10,000 is Rs 6,700. So 40 percent of seats have to be sold at a price less than Rs 6,700. This is how we're ensuring that fares don't go out of control."

Checking health status on Aarogya Setu app will be mandatory

In lockdown 4 and its aftermath, if there is one thing that is going to be as indispensable as face masks for moving around in the country, it is Aarogya Setu app. First, Railways made it mandatory for passengers to check health status on the app before travel, and now the guidelines released by the Civil Aviation Ministry have deemed it mandatory for flying in lockdown 4. “A self-declaration/ Aarogya Setu App status (for compatible device) would also be obtained (to ensure) that the passenger is free of COVID-19 symptoms. Passengers with “Red” status in Aarogya Setu App would not be permitted to travel,” the notification said.

Other guidelines

No physical check-in at airport counters would be done. Only those passengers with confirmed web check-in shall be allowed to enter the airport. Passengers will be required to wear face masks before entering airports and throughout the journey and will be allowed to carry one hand baggage and one checked-in baggage as per the specifications provided by the airline of their travel in the initial phase of resumption of services. Passengers should report at the airport at least two hours before the departure time. And people living in containment zones will not be allowed to travel.

The ministry has asked airlines to not provide meals or newspapers, magazines onboard flights to flyers and has mandated the cabin crew to wear a full protective suit. Mats/carpet soaked with bleach (Sodium Hypochlorite solution) is to be placed at the entrance for disinfecting shoes. And the use of trolleys is to be discouraged in departure and arrival area. “However, select few passengers, requiring the same due to genuine reasons, could be provided on request basis only. All trolleys must be disinfected by suitable means like disinfecting spray etc,” said the notification.

Here’s the link to a detailed document delineating the new guidelines.