New Delhi: After a two-month long shutdown, domestic flights will be allowed to resume operations in a staggered manner starting May 25, the government said today. Airports and carriers will be given guidelines to follow soon, Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted.
Fliers may be advised to carry only one baggage item, reach airports earlier than usual, be thermal scanned while departing and arriving, and stand at marked designated areas at every place from check-in counters to food and beverage outlets. Airlines and airport operators have been formulating scenarios for resumption of operations, and the other guidelines being discussed include passengers mandatorily carrying medical certificates to airports and being supplied with masks and gloves on board. A lot of points are being discussed and there are inputs being given by all stakeholders, including airport operators and security agencies,” a person privy to the discussions said.
“The aviation ministry in consultation with the health ministry will come up a set of guidelines soon.” “We are very clear that we want to entirely discourage cabin baggage and advice passengers to carry just one luggage item,” said the person quoted above. “More the luggage, the higher are the chances of contamination.” According to proposals from Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), passengers should reach the airport at least two hours before departure and the security gates would be shut one hour before the flight departure time. Delhi international airport, the busiest in the country, has set up a system for UV disinfection of all incoming baggage. All trolleys will undergo disinfection through a tunnel, sources said. The busiest airports in the country are in cities which have the highest cases of Coronavirus infected patients. Operators need to be extra cautious in their operations.
Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad airports are also setting up thermal screening counters at departure and arrival gates. Mumbai and Bengaluru will maintain social distancing through distinctive markings at both the terminals, maintaining 1.5 metres distance between each passenger, officials said. The special markings will be spread across the entry gate, check-in counters, self-check-in kiosks, security checkpoints, food courts, lounge area and the boarding areas, they said. Most airports will keep all F&B outlets open. Delhi airport has set up self-order kiosks while Mumbai and Bengaluru airports have reshuffled seating arrangements at the food court as well as in the terminal building in a manner that promotes social distancing.
Mumbai airport has also created quarantine centres at both the terminals of the airport in case any passenger shows symptoms of the novel coronavirus during the screening that will be conducted before entering the terminal building. Entry and boarding, too, will be different, sources said.
Delhi plans to open only Terminal 3 so it can transfer all passengers through aerobridges. It has rejigged entry gates and check in rows for airlines. It has also come with a separate set of guidelines for cab drivers, including disinfection of their vehicles.