Airport guidelines to bring more checks, reduce rush
Flight operations are likely to be scaled up in a gradual manner towards their previous level, according to the government’s plan. Airline operations are likely begin in Tier-I cities first, the statement added.Updated: Apr 30, 2020 02:13 IST
Once restrictions on passenger flights are lifted, airports will facilitate limited domestic and international scheduled flights in phases, may be at 30% capacity to facilitate social distancing, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) said in a set of guidelines for resumption of service once the lockdown is lifted.
Flight operations are likely to be scaled up in a gradual manner towards their previous level, according to the government’s plan. Airline operations are likely begin in Tier-I cities first, the statement added.
“Initially it is presumed that airline operations will be limited to Tier-I cities i.e. metros and some of the state capitals & major Tier-II cities. The flights schedule may be cleared on city pair basis, so the origin and destination airports are open fully ,” said the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for recommencement of operations at AAI airports after the lockdown.
At airports with more than one terminal, initially only one terminal shall be used and larger terminals can be scaled down to reduce cleaning area, considering limited availability of material resources, the SOP stated.
“Immediately after the lockdown is lifted, or as per government directives in this direction, the scheduled flight operations will commence. Hence, all airports are required to be in preparedness to handle the flight operations,” it added.
Strict social distancing norms will be introduced inside the planes to ensure space between two passengers, Hindustan Times reported on April 9. According to the SOP, passenger seating arrangement shall be done in such a manner so as to maintain social distancing (1- 1.5 m) between passengers.
“Sufficient staff shall be deployed near washrooms (in airports), X-Ray machines, conveyor belts etc. to guide passengers to maintain sufficient distance,” it said. Alternate check-in counters may also be introduced to avoid congestion.
“Queue at counters shall be managed by airlines staff to manage sufficient distance among passengers. Also, check-in counters may be opened well in advance to stagger the crowd,” it said. Social distancing (1-1.5 meter) markings and stickers will be provided at airports.
Based on social distancing norms, airports will work out terminal building capacity and forward it to AAI so that the slots can be accordingly allocated by airline operators for the scheduled flights can be done.
Food and Beverage Services and retail outlets will be limited till operations of airlines gradually increase. “Initially they should serve tea/coffee etc. with take away snacks in boxes,” it said.
India has suspended international flights since March 22 while domestic flights were grounded from March 25. The current lockdown period is scheduled to end on May 3 , although it is not clear if flights will resume immediately.
There will be a need for coordination with respective state governments and local administrations to ensure availability of proper public transport and private taxis for passengers and airline staff to reach the airport, the SOP said. “Also, coordinate with the respective local administration to ensure that petrol and diesel is adequately available for sustaining operations at airport,” it added.
The guidelines also said that the hours of operation of airports would initially be limited.
“Airlines are required to file their schedule with DGCA and simultaneously apply for slots at CHQ for approval well in advance to operate within the limited watch hours to be made available at airports, as initially the summer 2020 schedule cannot be fully implemented. The slots will be provided for ensuring staggered operation based on capacity restriction of terminal buildings to facilitate required social distancing,” the SOP said. CHQ stands for Central Headquarters.
Recommencement of international flights should be also done in a similar coordinated manner, it added.