The Civil Aviation Ministry has come up with a draft Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for commercial flights as the lockdown nears its end. The ministry said that passengers might have to fill a detailed questionnaire, carry no cabin baggage and use Aarogya Setu app mandatorily. Passengers might also have to reach the airports at least two hours before departure, according to the ministry's suggestions.
"It is clarified that suggestions were sought on a draft discussion paper from airlines and airports. The suggestions have now been received. The final SOP is yet to be issued," the ministry said in a statement. Flights have remained suspended since March 25 due to coronavirus.
The draft SOP proposes that passengers would need a green status on Aarogya Setu app and would have to do web check-in as well as undergo temperature checks. "A questionnaire to be circulated to the passenger and filled up by them in advance about their past history related to COVID-19 and quarantine, if any, in the last one month. Any passenger who has undergone quarantine in the last one month to be sent for security at the isolated security check unit only," stated the ministry in the document.
The ministry has also suggested airlines maintain the same set of cabin and cockpit crew in the roster for as long as possible to prevent cross contamination.
The draft SOP has suggested measures that could be followed by security agencies as well as airport operators, including doing away with identity card checks at airport entry gates and ensuring social distancing requirements. Another suggestion is to keep three rows of an aircraft vacant for isolating any passenger who has a medical emergency onboard.
The ministry prepared the draft SOP after discussing with stakeholders, including airlines and airport operators. Comments have been sought from stakeholders.
However, the draft does not address the issue of keeping the middle seat vacant.
Further, the ministry has suggested that passengers denied travel due to high temperature or age should be permitted to change their date of travel without penalty and airlines would have to maintain their records.
Airports should have an isolation zone in the terminal building. State governments should provide requisite help with medical infrastructure if the airport does not have an APHO set-up, stated the draft. Airports would have to put in place distance markings, disinfecting all common areas like lifts, escalators, chairs in seating areas, food and beverages, and retail outlets.
Availability of moveable hand wash cart or alcohol-based hand sanitisers within the terminal should be ensured, the ministry has proposed.