Aviation is one of the industries that has been blighted during the lockdown period of more than 60 days when travel was banned, airports were shut down, and the planes remained grounded. However, the phase-wise unlocking of the country saw the resumption of domestic flight operations on May 25th with all the safety protocols in place. The increasing number of cases on the one hand and the fact that there’s no licensed vaccine or cure to the virus on the other hand is greatly impinging on travel post lockdown. So, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has released a set of sanitization rules for airlines and their crew as part of their precautionary measures to contain the spread of coronavirus among travelers.
- Airlines should provide safety kits to all passengers boarding the flight. The kit must include a three-layered surgical mask, a face shield, and adequate hand sanitizer for a single person.
- The seat allocation shall be managed such that the middle seat is left unoccupied depending on passenger load and seat capacity. However, members belonging to the same family can be allowed to sit together.
- If the middle seat has to be occupied, then additional protective equipment like ‘wrap-around gown’ is to be provided to the person.
- The air-conditioning system must be set in such a way that air gets replaced regularly at the shortest intervals possible.
- Aircraft shall be sanitized after the passengers disembark. Also, at the end of the day, each aircraft shall be thoroughly cleaned as per the procedure suggested by the DGCA.
- Airlines shall carry out regular health check-up of the crew.
- All the crew members must be informed to download the Aarogya Setu app.
- The crew members shall be advised to change the masks once every 4 hours. They shall prioritize communication through intercom systems and avoid contact.
- Members of the crew should not assemble for meals or in-flight services and not dine in groups. They must sanitize their hands before and after using their protective equipment.
- The lavatory is to be cleaned frequently.
- The last three seats are to be reserved for quarantine purposes in case of any emergency on board. The rear lavatory should only be made accessible only to those under quarantine.
- Due care must be taken while cleaning the flight deck, cabin, and cargo compartments.
- If there is any COVID-19 related medical emergency on board, all the affected and adjoining seats must thoroughly be cleaned during aircraft disinfection.
- Before contacting or serving unwell passengers, the crew members are advised to wear personal protective equipment.
- In case symptoms such as fever, dry cough, cold, or fatigue are seen in any crew member, he/she must be relieved from the duty and should be put in the quarantine area.
Even as the domestic air passenger traffic has gradually risen after the initial dip post lockdown, India has decided to continue the suspension of scheduled international passenger flights (with the exception of repatriation flights) till the end of July, causing travelers to wait a little longer in order to book flights from the USA to India.