The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Monday told the airlines either to keep the middle seat vacant in flights or provide a “wraparound gown” to the passengers if they are allotted the middle seats due to higher load. However, it has allowed members of the same family to seat together. In addition, the passengers will also be provided safety kits, which include three-layered surgical face shield and adequate sanitiser.
The order came a week after the Supreme Court pulled up the DGCA for putting passengers’ life at risk by allowing booking of middle seats. In a hearing on 25 May, the apex court had said, “It is common sense that social distancing is important as a precaution against coronavirus and the government should be more worried about the health of citizens rather than the health of commercial airlines.” The DGCA circular also said that no drinks, including water, would be served on board except in extreme circumstances arising due to health reasons.
The airlines have also been asked to set the air-conditioning system in such a way that air is replaced at the shortest possible intervals. The embarkation or disembarkation should be in a sequential manner and passengers should be advised by airlines to follow the instructions and not to rush to the entry or exit gates. The airlines should ensure orderly entry or exit of the passengers.
The new directives by the aviation regulator will come into effect from 3 June. The domestic commercial flights started after two months on 25 May and Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had said that if middle seats were kept vacant, airfares would shoot up considerably.