Domestic flights: First flight from Bengaluru with 150 passengers lands at Ranchi airport
Frequent fliers described Monday’s flight as an unusual experience because of thermal screening and body temperature reading carried out by airport authorities to prevent the spread of the pandemic.Updated: May 25, 2020 11:12 IST
The first domestic flight, carrying 150 passengers, since the resumption of air travel after the nationwide lockdown restrictions, which were imposed on March 25 to contain the spread of coronavirus disease (Covid-19), landed at Ranchi’s Birsa Munda Airport at 7.35 am on Monday, airport officials said.
The last flight took off from the airport on March 24, a day before the Centre suspended flight operations because of the nationwide lockdown restrictions.
“The first flight to Ranchi operated by Air Asia came from Bengaluru carrying 150 passengers. The same flight took off for Bengaluru at 8.50 am. On Monday, six flights are expected to operate from the airport,” said Vinod Sharma, director, Birsa Munda Airport.
Frequent fliers described Monday’s flight as an unusual experience because of thermal screening and body temperature reading carried out by airport authorities to prevent the spread of the pandemic.
“It was a new experience. We maintained social distancing throughout the trip. The security check-up mechanism was also a departure from the past,” said Ruchi Kumar, a Ranchi resident and a frequent flier.
Incoming air passengers have been urged to stay under quarantine at home for the next 14 days, as per the guidelines issued by the Jharkhand government late Sunday evening. Those who are travelling to Jharkhand and planning to exit within 72 hours would be exempted from mandatory quarantine in the state, according to the state disaster management department.
All airlines operating from Birsa Munda Airport have been directed to share the list of incoming passengers with the state government. The passengers have been asked to arrange their own private vehicle or taxi for movement to their destination from the airport.
The authorities have ensured touch-free entry, screening, scanning, and security checks at the airport. “Web-cams have been installed, which read passengers’ boarding passes and their faces. Flyers with confirmed web check-in will be allowed to the airport terminal. Boarding pass will not be issued at the airport,” said Sharma.
The authorities have also made preparations for sanitising passengers’ luggage in an automatic mode. Passengers have been urged to follow guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation.
Earlier, Rai Mahimapat Ray, deputy commissioner, Ranchi, and other senior officials visited the airport on Sunday to review the preparedness ahead of the resumption of domestic flights. The use of masks and hand gloves has been mandatory for all air passengers. They would have to compulsorily under thermal screening, Ray said.
“Besides, the passengers have to reach the airport two hours ahead of the scheduled departure of the flight. They’ve to maintain social distancing and santisation protocol. All fliers have been asked to install the Aarogya Setu application on their mobile phones. They can only bring two luggage for cabin and hand of a size specified by the airlines.”
Jharkhand has reported 370 Covid-19 positive cases, including 115 in the state capital Ranchi, so far. There has been an increase in the cases of the viral outbreak in Jharkhand because of the influx of stranded migrant workers from other states amid the easing of lockdown restrictions. The state government officials said that an estimated over 3.2 lakh migrant workers and students have returned to their native places so far. While over seven lakh have registered on the state government portal to return home.
The ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) has opposed the Centre’s move to resume domestic flight operations from Monday and the passenger train service from June 1.
JMM general secretary-cum-spokesperson Supriyo Bhattacharya said the Covid-19 crisis would deepen, as the Centre is planning to run over 26,000 Shramik Special trains to ferry over 3.6 million migrant workers across the country over the next 10 days. “The states will be in deep trouble because of the influx of passengers by air and train, as many may have contracted SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19,” he said.