The Covid-19 pandemic has already grounded the airline industry. But as the lockdown is gradually lifted, the entire experience of travelling by air is going to be changed, when the flight operations resume in June. To commence the domestic and international operations in India, the government is expected to take a call sometime over the next one week.
According to the sources, the ministry of civil aviation has already reached out to various stakeholders, including airlines, airports and ground-handling firms, about the preparations to resume the operations. A detailed set of SOPs is being worked out by the government in consultation with the aviation industry, a number of new rules and regulations will change the flying experience.
The safety guidelines issued by the Airport Authority of India for the passengers at the airports include, among other things, compulsorily wearing a mask, carrying a hand sanitizer, registration to the Aarogya Setu app, web check-in, and maintaining 4-ft physical distance.
Airport sources say that social distancing will start from the point when someone gets down from their cars at the airports. CISF men, who are posted at airports, will be equipped with thermal temperature scanners and will not allow passengers with fever to enter the premises; passenger ID and boarding pass may not be checked physically at the entry.
This practice will be maintained during the check-in and security check procedure as well. Passengers have to arrive at the airport only after completing their web check-in at home. The reporting time for travellers at the airport is likely to be increased. Cabin luggage may not be allowed, and only one piece of checkin baggage weighing less than 20kg could be allowed.
Frisking of passengers could be minimised and carried out only if the metal detector beeps. The stamp on the passenger’s boarding pass will be done away with. Once passengers reach the aircraft, a secondary temperature check at the boarding gate shall commence. Once they board the aircraft, they will find middle-row seats unoccupied in order to maintain a distance between passengers. We are also told that the last three rows of the aircraft will be kept vacant for any passenger who develops a medical condition.