The Ministry of Civil Aviation has issued an order, including guidelines for passengers, airports and airlines
Domestic flights will resume on May 25 with limited operations, with airlines operating one-third of their schedule.
“Further augmentation offlights will be done in a calibrated manner,” Ministry of Civil Aviation has said in an order released on May 21.
It has said that ‘vulnerable persons, such as very elderly, pregnant ladies, passengers with health issues are advised to avoid air travel.”
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Importantly, there will be no physical check-in at airports, and only those passengers with confirmed web check-in shall be allowed to enter the airport.
The government has also asked airlines to adhere to “the lower and upper limits of fares prescribed by the Ministry during the period of COVID- t9 pandemic.”
Domestic flights were suspended on March 24, coinciding with the start of the national lockdown. While the fourth phase of the lockdown gets over on May 31, the government has decided to re-open the skies before that.
The resumption will bring relief to airlines, and also customers who were stuck in different parts of the country and were unable to return home.
All the carriers, including IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir, are facing severe cash crunch, and have been forced to cut salaries and send employees on leave without pay.
Much to the airlines’ relief, the guidelines have not asked the carriers to keep the middle seat in flights, vacant. This was one of the proposals that was initially suggested. But it was vehemently opposed by airlines, who argued that keeping the middle seat empty will rob them of one-third of the capacity, making operations unviable.
Booking of tickets is expected to open up later in the day, on May 21. Executives from all the airlines have met officials of industry regulator DGCA and in the Ministry, to chart out details.
“If an airline has 21 flights from Delhi to Mumbai, it will now have only seven,” a senior official had told Moneycontrol. Another official added that Delhi airport may operate only 14 flights an hour.
The following are some of the important things fliers should remember.
The Ministry has said that those who had tested positive for COVID-19, or live in a containment zone, should refrain from travel. If the passenger does travel, he or she will be liable for penal action.
A customer will need to self-declare that she doesn’t have any COVID-19 symptoms. Also, she will need to download the Aarogya Setu app. “Passengers with “Red” status on Aarogya Setu App wouldnot be permitted to travel,” the Ministry order says.
In case of a PNR having more than one passenger, the declaration would be deemed to be covering all the passengers mentioned, the order says. One would also need to print – it won’t be given – the baggage tag and affix it on the bag at a prominent place. If not a tag, then the PNR number and name of the passenger has to be written on a paper and stuck on the luggage.
Passengers, who will be required to wear face mask all the time, will be allowed only one check-in bag. There will be no meal service on board.
“No newspaper or magazine shall be provided on board by the airlines.Use of baggage tiolleys has to be minimised. Passengers should report at least two hours before the departure time,” listed the order.
This is a developing story. Please check back later for more details.
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First Published on May 21, 2020 11:58 am