Draft SOP issued for restarting post lockdown flights

Draft SOP issued for restarting post lockdown flights
Representational Pic

Filling up of a detailed questionnaire related to COVID-19, carrying no cabin baggage, using Aarogya Setu app and reaching airport at least two hours before a flight departure might well be among the requirements for air passengers during the initial phase after resumption of commercial flights.

The civil aviation ministry has come out with a draftStandard Operating Procedure (SOP) for restarting commercial air passengerservices in the country, which remain suspended since March 25 in the wake ofthe lockdown to curb spreading of coronavirus infections.

Green status on Aarogya Setu app, web check-in, andtemperature checks for all domestic departing and arriving passengers have alsobeen proposed.

The draft SOP, accessed by PTI, has also mooted rosteringthe same set of cabin and cockpit crew as long as possible in order to preventpossible cross contamination.

Not just for passengers, the draft SOP has suggestedmeasures that could be followed by security agencies

as well asairport operators, including doing away with identity card checks at airportentry gates and ensuring social distancing requirements.

Anothersuggestion is to keep three rows of an aircraft vacant for isolating anypassenger who has a medical emergency onboard.

The draft SOPwas prepared after discussions with stakeholders, including airlines andairport operators. Comments have been sought from the stakeholders on it,according to sources.

Notably, thedraft document is silent on leaving the middle seat of the aircraft vacant formaintaining social distancing. Aviation regulator DGCA had made a suggestionabout leaving middle seat vacant, prior to suspension of commercial flightservices in March.

"Aquestionnaire to be circulated to the passenger and filled up by them inadvance about their past history related to COVID-19 and quarantine, if any, inlast one month.

"Anypassenger who has undergone quarantine in the last one month to be sent forsecurity at the isolated security check unit only," as per the document.

According tothe document, passengers should be advised to familiarise themselves about thenew procedures at the airport, especially about social distancing norms andensuring minimum touching of various surfaces.

They shouldalso be familiar with baggage limitations, COVID-19 questionnaire, need toregister on Aarogya Setu app, possibly slower processes at airports and use ofauthorised taxis to reach airport, it said.

The ministryhas proposed that passengers should reach the airport at least two hours beforea flight and do away with passenger identity checks at airport entry gates tominimise rush at the entry points.

Passengers cando web check–in and carrying cabin baggage should not be allowed in the initialphase of operations, as per the document.

Further, theministry has suggested that passengers denied travel due to high temperature orage should be permitted to change their date of travel without penalty andairlines would have to maintain their records.

Airportsshould have an isolation zone in the terminal building as well as the airsidefor passengers showing symptoms and state governments should provide requisitehelp with medical infrastructure in case an airport does not have an APHO(Airport Health Organisation) set-up, it noted.

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.

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