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Government issues SOPs for domestic flight operations from Monday

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A day after announcing resumption of domestic flights from 25 May, the Union Aviation Ministry has issued standard operating procedures (SOPs) to prevent the spread of coronavirus. New rules have made physical distancing, the Aarogya Setu app on mobiles, and thermal screening compulsory for passengers entering airports.

Addressing a press conference, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that quarantine for domestic flight passengers might not be required. According to the new SOPs issued by the ministry, passengers have to be thermal screened and must have Aarogya Setu on their mobiles, except children below 14.

If they don’t show “green” or do not have the government contact tracing app, they will not be allowed entry. Face masks and hand sanitisers will also be compulsory. Hand sanitiser containers of up to 350ml will be allowed in hand baggage. 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.

“A passenger will require to wear protective gear, face mask & carry sanitizer bottle. Airlines shall not provide meal on board. Water bottles will be made available in gallery area or on seats,” said Hardeep Puri. He also added, “The cabin crew will be required to be in full protective gear. Only one check-in bag will be allowed. Passengers should report before at least 2 hours before departure time. Fares will be regulated and will be in a fixed range.”

Currently the routes have been divided into 7 sections. One section flight duration will be less than 40 min, second section of 40-60 min. Third segment 60-90 min, fourth segment 90-120 min, fifth segment 120-150 min, sixth segment 150-180 min, and seventh segment 180-210 min. Fares will be regulated and fares will be fixed on the basis of flight duration.

The minister also added that for operations from metro to non-metro cities and vice-versa, where weekly departures are greater than 100, the government allows onethird of approved summer schedule capacity. For operation from metro to non-metro cities and vice versa where weekly departures are less than 100, airlines are free to operate any routes of the 1/3rd capacity of approved summer capacity 2020.

For all other cities, airlines are free to operate any routes of the approved summer capacity 2020. As per the ministry, this is the first stage of resumption of domestic flights and later looking at the situation more flights and airports will be opened. Puri also emphasised PM Narendra Modi’s “Jaan Hai Toh Jahan Hai” slogan and said: “The time has come for us to open up and strike a balance between life and livelihood.”