Airport Authority of India issues guidelines for domestic air travel, ministry says not final
Passengers will have to report two hours in advance and only those who have a departure scheduled in the next four hours will be allowed to enter the terminal building, the Airport Authority of India’s fresh guidelines on domestic air travel state.
However, the civil aviation ministry has categorically stated this will not be the final standard operating procedure (SOP) on domestic air travel.
The ministry has said the final guidelines on the resumption of air travel will be issued by the ministry later in the day.
“The AAI will have to follow the guidelines decided by the civil aviation ministry and the DGCA,” a senior government official said.
India will resume domestic flights beginning May 25, the government said on Wednesday, announcing a gradual reboot of air travel that was halted two months ago on the account of the lockdown imposed to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in India.
“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 the civil aviation ministry,” civil aviation minister Hardeep Puri tweeted.
According to the AAI’s guidelines, all passengers will have to compulsorily register on the Aarogya Setu app and the same will be verified by CISF security at the airport.
“However, Aarogya Setu is not mandatory for children below 14 years of age. State governments and local administrations will have to ensure the availability of public transport and private cabs for providing connectivity to the airport for passengers,” the AAI has said.
“For commuting to and from the airport, both by staff and passengers, only the personal vehicles or select authorised taxi services/transport services with restricted seating to be permitted,” it said.
Upon arrival, an announcement will be made in the aircraft by the airline on for deplaning passengers in batches sequentially to maintain social distancing norms.
“At each point of interaction with the passengers, the airport operator should try to provide a glass shield or any other transparent separation as far as practically possible, for additional protection of airport personnel and passengers,” it said.
Inside planes, middle seats might not be left vacant, although such a proposal was initially on the table, said an official who also informed that measures will be taken to maintain social distancing at airports. On the completion of travel, passengers will have to abide by the guidelines laid down by the destination state.
Passengers may also have to quarantine upon reaching their destination depending on the norms decided by the states.
“On arrival at the destination airport, passengers will have to adhere to such health protocols as prescribed by the destination states/ UTs,” the guidelines added.
Domestic flight services have been put on hold since March 25, when the nationwide lockdown was first imposed. International flights have not arrived in India since March 22. Cargo flights and those evacuating foreign nationals have been operating though.
Resuming domestic flight services is seen as yet another step by the government in the direction of a graded exit from the lockdown which has been extended till the end of this month. The curbs have taken a toll on the Indian economy, stalling activities across sectors, including the aviation industry.