Domestic flights to resume from May 25, details on process soon: Govt

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Wednesday domestic scheduled commercial passenger flights will resume in a calibrated manner from May 25, two months after the services were shut due to coronavirus.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • India suspended flight operations after announcing lockdown on March 25
  • Govt will release SOP for domestic air travel soon, said Hardeep Puri
  • Expected changes include using Aarogya Setu app, no cabin luggage

Exactly two months after the government of India imposed a nationwide lockdown due to coronavirus, domestic flight operations are set to resume again. Union Minister for Civil Aviation Hardeep Puri on Twitter announced that India will start domestic flight operations in a “calibrated manner” from May 25.

“All airports and air carriers are being informed to be ready for operations from May 25,” he added.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation will soon be announcing the standard operating procedure for domestic air travel.

The civil aviation minister had previously said that India is fully prepared to start air travel as soon as the Centre gives the green light.

Airports across various parts in the country including have started introducing fresh measures to keep travellers protected from the deadly coronavirus.

Earlier this month, in a communication to airport managers across the country, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) had asked all airports to be prepared to handle flight operations.

AAI’s directorate of operations said: “Once the lockdown period is declared to be over, airports shall be facilitating limited domestic/international scheduled flights in phases, to start with, maybe at 30 per cent capacity to facilitate required social distancing.” It added initially, airline operations may be limited to Tier-l cities and major Tier-ll cities.

HOW WILL AIR TRAVEL CHANGE?

Filling up of a detailed questionnaire related to Covid-19, carrying no cabin baggage, using Aarogya Setu app and reaching the airport at least two hours before a flight departure might well be among the requirements for air passengers during the initial phase after the resumption of commercial flights.

Union minister Hardeep Puri had previously outlined some of the changes that will be witnessed in air travel keeping in mind Covid-19 precautions. “Now we won’t be able to permit queues at airports. Maybe you will have to print your boarding pass from home and passengers may have to arrive at the airport before the scheduled time. Even several airport procedures may have to be reduced. We may allow just one bag per person. The meal service also might be restricted. We have developed a strategy and will finalise this soon,” he had explained.

Cabin crew members of Indian airlines will have personal protective equipment (PPE) like face shields, gowns and masks as part of their attire on commercial passenger flights when they resume operations, industry sources said.

India has been under lockdown since March 25 to curb the spread of coronavirus. All commercial passenger flights have remained suspended for this period.

However, cargo flights, medical evacuation flights and special flights to repatriate Indian citizens had been operating during this period.

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