Tribune News Service
New Delhi, May 21
A day after announcing the government’s decision to allow the resumption of domestic air services from May 25, after a two-month halt owing to the COVID-induced lockdown, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, on Thursday said, only one-third of the normal summer schedule flights would be permitted to operate, for which the routes had been divided into seven sections for the purpose of fare control.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said: “For example, a Delhi-Mumbai (the busiest domestic route) flight tickets will have to be priced between Rs 3,500 and 10,000 for the next three months, and at least 40 per cent of the seats should be sold at a price, which should not be more than the mean value of the price band.”
Limits on airfares have been set in seven bands as per the flight durations and they would be in place till August 24, said Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, on Thursday.
Puri said the first band, which would have a specific lower and upper limits of airfare, will consist of flights that were of less than 40 minutes duration. The second, third, fourth and fifth bands of upper limit would be of flights with durations of 40 to 60 minutes, 60 to 90 minutes, 90 to 120 minutes and 120 to 150 minutes, respectively, while the sixth and seventh bands would consist of flights with durations between 150 to 180 minutes and 180 to 210 minutes, respectively, he added.
“All stakeholders, such as airlines, airports have cooperated. So, we took the decision to resume flights from May 25,” Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri added.
On the issue of compulsory institutional quarantine of passengers after they reach their destination, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said it was not feasible as not only the number of flyers were less, but all precautionary measures were in place before they board a plane for travel.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri also clarified that given the experience the Ministry had gathered while operating flights under the ‘Vande Bharat Mission’, there was no proposal to keep the middle seat vacant.
“Even if the seat is kept vacant, the social-distancing norm is not met and then, we also had to balance between the interest of flyers and commercial viability of the airlines,” Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri insisted.
Meanwhile, in a set of detailed guidelines, the Ministry advised the vulnerable people such as the elderly, pregnant women and the passengers battling health issues to avoid air travel till the COVID-19 pandemic abates. People residing in the containment zones will also not be allowed to travel.
All passengers will have to provide their medical details through the Aarogya Setu app or by filling up a self-declaration form. They will have to go for web-check-in as physical check-in counters in airports will not operate.
Passengers will have to report to airports two hours before flights are scheduled to depart and they will have to strictly follow social distancing rules.
Airports have been advised to earmark areas for isolation as well as to carry out COVID-19 testing of suspected passengers. They will also have to ensure easy availability of hand sanitisers at all entry points and at various touchpoints.
Guidelines for passengers at departure airport
Passengers should wear a mask throughout the journey
Passengers to get down from the vehicle with the face mask on and with the required documents
Passengers to arrive at the thermal screening facility near the entry gate before two hours of departure time and get checked for temperature
Passengers to display the status of the Aarogya Setu App to the staff at the entry gate and if the person does not have it, he/she will be facilitated to go to a counter provided by the airport where the application can be downloaded. If a passenger does not have a compatible mobile handset, he/she will fill a form declaring health condition.
Passengers to proceed to the baggage drop counter and show his/her PNR to the staff and an electronic receipt shall be sent to the passenger
Passengers to complete the check-in procedure and baggage drop at least 60 minutes before departure
Arrangements have been made at airports to guide passengers to walk through the ore-embarkation security screening
Passengers to follow the directions as announced by the authorities and divest of all metal on the body to facilitate the security screening
Passengers to proceed to the security hold area after security screening
Guidelines to abide by while boarding
Passengers to collect the safety kit (three-layered surgical mask and sanitiser) from the airlines near the boarding gate
Passengers to wear a face mask and sanitise their hands before proceeding to the boarding gate for scanning of the boarding pass
Display of identity cards by passengers is a must and check-in of the boarding pass would be done by the passenger by self-scanning of e-boarding pass
Guidelines to follow inside the aircraft
Face-to-face interaction to be minimised
Passengers to minimise the use of toilets and avoid non-essential movement in the aisle
No meal service in the aircraft, water bottle to be made available on the seats
Eatables not to be consumed during the flight
No newspaper/magazine will be available
Guidelines to follow at destination airport
Transit passengers will not be allowed to come out of the transit area
Passengers to hire only authorised taxis
On arrival at the destination, passengers to adhere to health protocols as prescribed by the destination