In a major relief for flyers, India is set to resume domestic flights from May 25 onwards, after almost three months. However, the civil aviation ministry has issued standard operating procedures (SOPs), which will make travel experience very different passengers.
From fare hike and slower processes at airports, to the use of authorised taxis, here is what is going to change for passengers as they fly in the time of coronavirus.
Departure guidelines for passengers
1. Aarogya Setu app will be mandatory for all passengers (children below 14 years of age are exempt from this)
2. Passengers not showing 'Green' on Aarogya Setu won't be allowed to enter
3. Newspapers and magazines will not be provided in the terminal building/lounges
4. Passengers shall compulsorily walk through the screening zone for thermal screening at a designated place in the city side before entering the terminal building
5. Only authorised taxi services or personal vehicles with restricted seating will be permiited for commuting to and from the airport.
6. Face masks and gloves will be mandatory
7. Passengers must reach airport at least 2 hour before the scheduled time of departure
8. Digital payments, self-ordering booths at food and beverage (F&B) and retail outlets will be encouraged
9. Only those passengers whose departure is scheduled in next 4 hours will be allowed to enter the terminal building
10. Passengers must board the plane in batches so as to maintain social-distancing measures
Passengers are advised to familiarise themselves with the new procedures at the airport, especially about social-distancing norms and ensure minimum touching of various surfaces.
They should also be familiar with baggage limitations.
Departure guidelines for airports/airlines
1. Airport operators must make appropriate arrangements for sanitisation of a passenger's baggage before his or her entry into the terminal building
2. Only authorised taxi services or personal vehicles with restricted seating will be permiited for commuting to and from the airport
3. Face masks and gloves are mandatory
State government and local administration must ensure availability of proper public transport and private taxis for connectivity to the airport for passengers as well as airport/airline staff
5. Passenger seating arrangement will be done in such a manner than social distancing among passengers is maintained using chairs by blocking those seats that are not to be used, with proper markers/tapes
6. Safe and proper disposal of all catergories of waste generated at the terminal building will have to be ensured to limit the spread of infection, if any. Also, proper disposal facilities with biohazard bins/bags for disposal of masks, etc, have to be ensured at stratergic locations, and frequent disinfection/removal of the same must be understaken.
7. All F&B and retail outlets to be opened with Covid-19 precautions. Take-away to be encouraged to prevent crowding. Digital payments, self-ordering booths at F&B and retails outlets will be encouraged.
12. Only those passengers whose departure is scheduled in the next 4 hours will be allowed to enter the terminal building.
Arrival guidelines for passengers
1. Passengers must deboard the plane in batches
Other hygiene and social-distancing guidelines must be followed strictly
Departure guidelines for airports/airlines
1. Announcement will be made in the aircraft by the airline for deplaning passengers in batches sequentially so as to maintain social-distancing measures.
2. Passengers will be deplaned in batches
3. Luggage will have to be sanitised before it is handed back to the passenger
4. Sufficient staff must be deployed near washrooms.
Airlines estimate they would have to increase average fares by anything between 50 per cent and 100 per cent to break even. CAPA, an international aviation consultancy firm, has estimated that on the Delhi-Mumbai route, a flight ticket must sell at Rs 9,700 if an airline wants to meet the costs for meeting norms on social distancing and empty seats.
Airlines have suffered huge losses during the lockdown — some estimates say that the number could be as high as $1.75 billion in the first quarter of FY21. The result will be that the Indian aviation business will shrink, as some airlines shut down and others merge.