The Airports Authority of India (AAI) issued Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for airports as the government announced resumption of domestic flights. The air travel was halted two months ago on account of a lockdown imposed to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
Apart from other things, the SOPs say that Aarogya Setu mobile application is not mandatory for children below 14 years of age. The app is being widely promoted by the government as it helps in tracing Covid-19 infection in the vicinity.
Other passengers, however, are required to install the app on their phone and it will be verified by the airport staff or Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel stationed at the gate. Passengers who don’t show “green” on the app, won’t be allowed to enter.
They have also been asked to wear masks and gloves.
“Passengers must compulsorily walk through thermal screening zone on city side before entering airport terminal building. Airport operators must make appropriate arrangement for sanitisation of passengers’ baggage before entry into terminal building,” the SOPs released by AAP say.
The AAI has asked parking and kerb areas to be strictly monitored in coordination with CISF and traffic police to prevent congestion and maintain social distancing. Only personal vehicles and authorised taxi services will be allowed to enter.
It has also asked state governments and local authorities to ensure availability of public transport and taxis for providing connectivity the the airport for passengers as well as staff of the airlines.
Passengers have been advised to reach airport two hours before the scheduled time of departure of their flights. “Passengers who have departure in next four hours will only be allowed to enter the building,” the AAI says in the document.
However, the civil aviation ministry has categorically stated this will not be the final SOPs on domestic air travel. The ministry has said the final guidelines on resumption of air travel will be issued by the ministry later in the day.
The government on Wednesday announced the resumption of domestic flights from May 25. “All airports and air carriers are being informed to be ready for operations from 25th May. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for passenger movement are also being separately issued by civil aviation ministry,” civil aviation minister Hardeep Puri tweeted.
The government’s plan for the resumption of services may feature recommending a price band for different routes keeping in mind “the interest of both the consumer and the airline”, a civil aviation ministry official who did not want to be named said.
Inside planes, middle seats might not be left vacant though such a proposal was initially on the table, according to the official, who also said measures will be taken to maintain social distancing at airports. On completion of travel, passengers will have to abide by the guidelines laid down by the destination state.
In the first phase, the flights are likely to cater to all major Tier-1 cities.